Review of R.J. McIntosh. Ancient Middle Niger: Urbanism and the Self-Organizing Landscape

Michael E. Smith
2006 Journal of African Archaeology  
Hierarchy is bad but heterarchy is good. Elites are bad ("social parasites", p. 150) but specialists are good. Old-fashioned models of early urbanism (in which cities are places of "powerlessness, misery, and oppression", p. 209) are bad, whereas vague complex systems models are good. States and centralized power are bad ("coercive institutions cast their filthy pallor over the land", p. 214), but local native traditions emphasizing respect and peaceful interaction are good. Urban citadels are
more » ... Urban citadels are bad, but clustered cities are good. These are some of the main points in this disappointing account of urbanization at Jenne-jeno and other sites in the Middle Niger region of Mali.
doi:10.3213/1612-1651-10082 fatcat:ruxoe6rkdbdabjwxcyfvhmqbhq