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Societies against the Chief? Re-examining the value of ‘heterarchy’ as a concept for examining European Iron Age societies

Moore, T. and González-Álvarez, D. (2021) 'Societies against the Chief? Re-examining the value of ‘heterarchy’ as a concept for examining European Iron Age societies.', in Power from Below in pre-modern societies. The dynamics of political complexity in the archaeological record. , pp. 125-156.

Abstract

Carole Crumley’s (1979; 1995a; 1995b; 2015) explorations on the applicability of heterarchy as a concept within archaeology have been highly influential in Anglo-American discourse on social organization. Despite largely emerging from Crumley’s work on Iron Age France (Crumley, 1979), however, the relevance of heterarchy as a concept for challenging hierarchical models of European Iron Age societies has largely been restricted to Britain (e.g. Moore, 2007a; Hill, 2011), where evidence for “elites” seems most obviously lacking. Northwestern Iberia has also been a locus for discussion of acephalous and nonhierarchical social forms (Fernández-Posse & Sánchez-Palencia, 1998; González-García et al., 2011; González-Ruibal, 2012; Sastre-Prats, 2011), but one where explicit discussions of heterarchy have rarely featured. More recently, it has been argued that almost all European Iron Age societies can be regarded as “broadly heterarchical” (e.g. Bradley et al., 2015: 260), although the wider implications of this have yet to be explored. What is the place, then, of heterarchy in Iron Age studies? Has it merely become a label for all nonhierarchical models (Fernández-Götz, 2014: 36), creating various Iron Age “societies against the state” (Clastres, 1977), or does it offer ways of exploring not just alternatives to hierarchies but thicker descriptions of how all Iron Age societies worked?

Item Type:Book chapter
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009042826.007
Publisher statement:This material has been published in Power from Below in pre-modern societies. The dynamics of political complexity in the archaeological record, edited by T.L Thurston & Manuel Fernández-Götz. This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press
Date accepted:20 July 2021
Date deposited:13 May 2022
Date of first online publication:08 October 2021
Date first made open access:13 May 2022

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