Technologies of Social Control

Essay 2

On the basis of class lectures and assigned and recommended readings thus far, please present an argument based on the following statement:

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“The emergence of states represents an extraordinary revolution in human social organization and in the technologies of social control available to rulers.” 

Your answer should define what a state is, should be cognizant of the range of hypotheses that scholars have put forth to explain the emergence of states, should discuss the relationship between urbanism and state formation, should discuss the significance of the principal changes in human social organization and technologies of social control (labour) that states entail, and should assess how revolutionary those changes and technologies were in terms of the human career as a whole.

Your essay should make use of, and incorporate, pertinent materials from class lectures and from relevant assigned class readings.

Required Reading List:

Week 4.  Urbanism in Ancient Civilizations (January 25, 27, 29)

Perspectives from urban civilizations in the Old and New Worlds.  Mesopotamia, Indus Valley, China, Mesoamerica and the Andes.  High density vs. Low-Density settlement clusters.

Readings: Ashmore and Sabloff 2002; Cowgill 2007; Smith 2002.

Recommended Readings: Algaze 2013; Smith 2007, Flad 2018.

Readings: I Say, They Say: Chap 11.

Week 5: Technologies of Social Organization: The Rise of the State (February 1, 3, 5)

The Birth of Tyranny.  The institutionalization of class and social hierarchies

Theories of the Origin of the State.

J.C. Scott: Cereals and Civilization.

Readings: Haas 1982, pp. 34-85; Scott 2017, pp. 116-149; Hariri 2015, chap. 6.

Recommended Readings: Hariri 2015, Chapter 11.

Readings: I Say, They Say: Chap 5.

Week: 6: Art as Propaganda: The representation of the King

(February 8, 10, 12)

Ideologies and Iconographies of Kingship in the Early States:

The Case of Mesopotamia

The Warka Vase as “Weltsanshauung” (Vision of the World)

Propaganda: The Exaltation of Sumerian Kings: The Standard of Ur.

Readings: Winter 2007; Schmandt Besserat 1993.

Recommended Reading: Brisch 2013.

Readings: I Say, They Say: Chap 8.

Happy St. Valentine’s day!

Week 7: The “Labor Revolution” (February 17, 19; Holiday: Feb 15)

Labour in Ancient Civilizations: The Mesopotamian and Incan Examples

Breaking the bonds of kinship in the organization of labour: Slavery in the Ancient Near East.

Readings: Hariri 2015, Chapter 8; Mendelsohn 1948; Snell 2011; Steinkeller 2015, pp. 1-35.

Readings: I Say, They Say: Chap 9. For more information on Technologies of Social Control see this:

Technologies of Social Control

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