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date: 04 December 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This paper focuses on various anthropological and archaeological explanations in the study of aspects of social complexity in societies on the Pacific Northwest Coast (NWC). The study of the groups in this area has provided a rich example of intensive, uninterrupted anthropological hunter -gatherer-fisher research for more than a century; it will be seen that many basic themes recur as knowledge continually reforms itself. Embedded within are two case studies, one analysing scholarly traditions of research on competitive feasting on the coast, through the mechanism of the potlatch, and the other about tracking the development of complexity by way of the archaeological record. Despite different approaches to analysis, it is argued that a balanced critical assessment of all modes of research should be embraced, and that the history and historiography of this region can continue to provide a testing ground for studies of emerging hunter-gatherer complexity world-wide.

Keywords: complex hunter gatherers, rank society, cultural ecology, original affluent society, behavioural ecology, potlatch, acculturation

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