Robert L. Carneiro

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Robert Leonard Carneiro (born in New York City on June 4, 1927) is an American anthropologist and curator of the American Museum of Natural History. Carneiro earned a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1957.[1]

Carneiro is an influential evolutionists [2], he is especially known for his theory of the state formation ("Carneiro's Circumscription Theory") that explains how the constraints of the environment interact with population pressures and warfare to form states.[3] For some criticisms of this theory see, e.g., Zinkina J. et al. Circumscription Theory of the Origins of the State: A Cross-Cultural Re-Analysis. Cliodynamics 7/2 (2016): 187–203. He has also made important contributions to the general theory of cultural evolution. He claims that in primitive war if the losers get away far enough then everything is quite fine. As seen with Ancient Egypt, when an area conquered along the Nile, the people can not just run off into the desert, therefore they are bound to their area, as seen with China, Iraq, etc.

Recent significant publications[edit]

Carneiro, R. L. "The Transition From Quantity to Quality: A Neglected Causal Mechanism in Accounting for Social Evolution." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 97 (2000): 12926-12931.

Carneiro, R. L. "Process vs. Stages: A False Dichotomy in Tracing the Rise of the State." In Alternatives of Social Evolution. Ed. by Nikolay Kradin, Andrey Korotayev, Dmitri Bondarenko, Victor de Munck, and Paul Wason, pp. 52–58. Vladivostok: Far Eastern Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2000.

Carneiro, R. L. The Muse of History and the Science of Culture. New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, 2000 [4]

Carneiro, R. L. "What Happened at Flashpoint? Conjectures on Chiefdom Formation at the Very Moment of Conception." In Chiefdoms and Chieftaincy in the Americas. Ed. by Elsa M. Redman, pp. 18–42. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998.

Carneiro, R. L. "Human History: A Domain of Competing Perspectives." Europaea 3, no. 2 (1997): 9-32.

Carneiro, R. L. "Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology: A Critical History" Westview Press, Boulder, CO, 2003.

Carneiro, R. L. The Evolution of the Human Mind From Supernaturalism to Naturalism An Anthropological Perspective. New York: Eliot Werner Publications, Inc., 2010.

External links[edit]


  1. ^ McGee, Jon R.; Warms, Richard L. (2013). Theory in Social and Cultural Anthropology: An Encyclopedia. California: SAGE Publications. p. 1056.
  2. ^ Sanderson, Stephen K. (2007). Evolutionism and its Critics: Deconstructing and Reconstructing an Evolutionary Interpretation of Human Society. pp. 161–171.
  3. ^ Carneiro, Robert L. (21 August 1970). "A Theory of the Origin of the State". Science. 169 (3947): 733–738. doi:10.1126/science.169.3947.733. PMID 17820299.
  4. ^ Sanderson, Stephen K. Review of Robert L. Carneiro The Muse of History and the Science of Culture. Social evolution & History . Vol. 2, num. 1. March 2003. Pp. 238–246 [1]