The Growth and Collapse of Pacific Island Societies: Archaeological and Demographic Perspectives
432pp. July 2007
The Growth and Collapse of Pacific Island Societies: Archaeological and Demographic Perspectives
Editor: Kirch, Patrick V.; Rallu, Jean-Louis;
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title

Were there major population collapses on Pacific Islands following first contact with the West? If so, what were the actual population numbers for islands such as Hawai‘i, Tahiti, or New Caledonia? Is it possible to develop new methods for tracking the long-term histories of island populations? These and related questions are at the heart of this new book, which draws together cutting-edge research by archaeologists, ethnographers, and demographers.

In their accounts of exploration, early European voyagers in the Pacific frequently described the teeming populations they encountered on island after island. Yet missionary censuses and later nineteenth-century records often indicate much smaller populations on Pacific Islands, leading many scholars to debunk the explorers’ figures as romantic exaggerations. Recently, the debate over the indigenous populations of the Pacific has intensified, and this book addresses the problem from new perspectives.

Rather than rehash old data and arguments about the validity of explorers’ or missionaries’ accounts, the contributors to this volume offer a series of case studies grounded in new empirical data derived from original archaeological fieldwork and from archival historical research. Case studies are presented for the Hawaiian Islands, Mo‘orea, the Marquesas, Tonga, Samoa, the Tokelau Islands, New Caledonia, Aneityum (Vanuatu), and Kosrae.

71 illus.

"This collection is a seminal contribution to the longstanding concern with demographic levels and change before and following European contacts with Pacific Island societies. . . . The essays represent exemplary interdisciplinary meshings and, in developing a new level of technique for this research, remind readers of the excellence of the earlier work as well. . . . Undoubtedly, this will be a basic reference in Pacific Islands scholarship. Highly recommended." —Choice (45:2, October 2007)
Editor: Kirch, Patrick V.; Rallu, Jean-Louis;
Patrick V. Kirch is Class of 1954 Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. Jean-Louis Rallu is affliated with the Institut National d’Etude Demographiques. Contributors: J. Stephen Athens, Jacques Bole, David V. Burley, Eric Conte, Ross Cordy, Michelle Figgs, Roger C. Green, Valerie J. Green, Michael Graves, Brenda K. Hamilton, Jennifer G. Kahn, Patrick V. Kirch, Thegn Ladefoged, Charlotte Lee, Tamara Maric, A. Ouetcho, Jean-Louis Rallu, Christophe Sand, Matthew Spriggs, Shripad Tuljapurkar.
Read Chapter 1 (PDF).
List of Tables

List of Figures


1. Patrick V. Kirch and Jean-Louis Rallu
Long-Term Demographic Evolution in the Pacific Islands: Issues, Debates, and Challenges

2. Jean-Louis Rallu
Pre- and Post-Contact Population in Island Polynesia: Can Projections Meet Retrodictions?

3. Shripad Tuljapurkar, Charlotte Lee, and Michelle Figgs
Demography and Food in Early Polynesia

4. Patrick V. Kirch
"Like Shoals of Fish": Archaeology and Population in Pre-Contact Hawai‘i

5. Thegn N. Ladefoged and Michael W. Graves
Modeling Agricultural Development and Demography in Kohala, Hawai‘i

6. Patrick V. Kirch
Paleodemography in Kahikinui, Maui: An Archaeological Approach

7. Ross Cordy
Reconstructing Hawaiian Population at European Contact: Three Regional Case Studies

8. Brenda K. Hamilton and Jennifer G. Kahn
Pre-Contact Population in the ‘Opunohu Valley, Mo‘orea: An Integrated Archaeological and Ethnohistorical Approach

9. Eric Conte and Tamara Maric
Estimating the Population of Hokatu Valley, Ua Huka Island (Marquesas, French Polynesia) According to the Archaeological Remains

10. David V. Burley
Archaeological Demography and Population Growth in the Kingdom of Tonga 950 BC to the Historic Era

11. Roger C. Green
Protohistoric Samoan Population

12. Valerie J. Green and Roger C. Green
An Accent on Atolls in Approaches to Population Histories of Remote Oceania

13. J. Stephen Athens
Prehistoric Population Growth on Kosrae, Eastern Caroline Islands

14. Matthew Spriggs
Population in a Vegetable Kingdom: Aneityum Island (Vanuatu) at European Contact in 1830

15. Christophe Sand, Jacques Bole, and A. Ouetcho
What Were the Real Numbers? The Question of Pre-Contact Population Densities in New Caledonia

16. Patrick V. Kirch
Concluding Remarks: Methods, Measures, and Models in Pacific Paleodemography


List of Contributors