Dr. Paul “Jim” Roscoe

Dr. Paul "Jim" Roscoe

Professor of Anthropology
Cooperating Professor, Climate Change Institute
Cooperating Professor, School of Policy & International Affairs

Ph.D., University of Rochester, 1983

M.A., Manchester University, 1977

M.Sc. Manchester University, 1973

B.Sc., Manchester University, 1971


Professional Interests:

My particular research interests are the anthropology of war, cultural ecology, and political evolution, though I confess to being a closet generalist. My area interests are contact-era Polynesia and Melanesia; I have conducted over two years fieldwork amongst the Yangoru Boiken of the East Sepik, Papua New Guinea and have made a brief research trip to the Mountain Arapesh. My current research projects are: The hunters and gatherers of New Guinea; The anthropology of war in Sepik and Highland New Guinea; and The emergence of political complexity in New Guinea. Recently, I have been researching the human dimensions of climate change. I am particularly interested in how anthropological research can improve the models of human systems currently being used in predicting, mitigating, and adaptating to climate change.

Representative Publications:

2022 Rethinking the Prestige Economy and its Role in Trade: The Dominance Economy in Contact-Era New Guinea. In Trade before Civilization, Johan Ling, Richard Chacon, Kristian Kristiansen, eds. pp 75-106. London and New York: Cambridge University Press.

2021 with Daniel H. Sandweis and Erick Robinson. Population Density and Size Facilitate Interactive Capacity and the Rise of the State. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society – B. 1816:20190725.

2021, The Perplexing Heterarchical Complexity of Some New Guinea Polities at Contact. In Power from Below: Anthropological and Archaeological Approaches to Political Complexity. Manuel Fernandez-Goetz, ed. Pp.272-294. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press.

2021, with Cynthia Isenhour. Standing Out, Fitting In, and the Consumption of the World: Sustainable Consumption in a Status-Conscious World. In Consumption, Status, and Sustainability: Ecological and Anthropological Perspectives, Cynthia Isenhour and Paul Roscoe, eds. Pp.1-30. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

2021, with Cynthia Isenhour. Conclusion: On Social Change, Status, and Sustainability Policy. In Consumption, Status, and Sustainability: Ecological and Anthropological Perspectives, Cynthia Isenhour and Paul Roscoe, eds. Pp.324-341. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

2021, Conflict Management, Status Competition, and Consumption in New Guinea, Medieval England, and Contemporary Britain. In Consumption, Status, and Sustainability: Ecological and Anthropological Perspectives, Paul Roscoe and Cindy Isenhour, eds. Pp.59-84. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press.

2021, The Comparative Method in Religious Studies: An Anthropological Perspective. In The Wiley Blackwell Companion to the Study of Religion, Robert Segal and Nickolas P. Roubekas, eds. Pp.197-208. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

2020, with Daniel H. Sandweiss, Fred T. Andrus, Alice R. Kelley, Kirk A. Maasch, Elizabeth J. Reitz, and Paul B. Roscoe. 2021. Archaeological Climate Proxies and the Complexities of Reconstructing Holocene El Niño in coastal Peru. PNAS 117 (15): 8271-8279.

2020, Power Theory and the Rise and Reproduction of Patriarchy in Contact-Era New Guinea. In The Evolution of Social Institutions, Dmitri M. Bondarenko, Stephen A. Kowalewski, and David B. Small, eds. Pp.577-601. New York and Philadelphia: Springer.

2020, The Dynamics of Social Inequality among New Guinea’s Forager Communities. In Social Inequality in Hunter-Gatherer Societies. Luc Moreau, ed. PP.21-32. Cambridge: Macdonald Institute for Archaeological Research. https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/313532

2019, with Richard Chacon, Douglas Heyward, and Yamelitta Chacon. Social Signaling and the Warrior-Big-man among the Western Dani: A Man Called Tibenuk. Special issue of Human Nature 30(2):176-191. (Exploring Warfare and Violence from a Cross-Cultural Perspective: Selected Papers from the 2015 and 2017 WESIPS Conferences). doi.org/10.1007/s12110-019-09345-5.

2018, with Nathaniel J. Dominy, Samuel T. Mills, Christopher M. Yakacki, and R. Dana Carpenter. New Guinea Bone Daggers were Engineered to Preserve Social Prestige. Royal Society Open Science 5: 172067. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsos.172067.

2017, The Anthropology of War and Violence. In Ethnology, Ethnography and Cultural Anthropology, Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS). Paolo Barbaro, ed. Developed under the Auspices of the UNESCO, Eolss Publishers, Oxford, UK. Online at http://www.eolss.net.

2017, The Emergence of Sociopolitical Complexity: The Evidence from Contact-era New Guinea. In Feast, Famine, or Fighting: Multiple Pathways to Social Complexity, Richard J. Chacon and Rubén G. Mendoza, eds. Pp.197-222. New York and Philadelphia: Springer.

2017, The Fortunes of Foragers in Colonial and Post-Colonial New Guinea. In Hunter-Gatherers in a Changing World, Victoria Reyes Garcia and Aili Pyhälä, eds. Pp.3-20. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

2017, Trading-off Food and Military Security in Contact-Era New Guinea. In The Give and Take of Sustainability: Anthropological Perspectives on Tradeoffs, Michelle Hegmon, ed. Pp.84-108. New York, Cambridge University Press.

2016, Method, Measurement, and Management in IPCC Climate Modeling. Human Ecology 44:655–664.

2016, War and the Food Quest in Small-Scale Societies: Settlement Pattern Formation in Contact-Era New Guinea. In The Archaeology of Food and Warfare: Food Insecurity in Prehistory, Amber M. Vanderwarker and Gregory D. Wilson, eds. Pp.13-39. New York and Philadelphia: Springer.

2015, Ethnographic Gifts: Some Cautions on the Use of Ethnographic Analogies from Contemporary Cultural Anthropology. In Fremdheit – Perspektiven auf das Andere, Tobias L. Kienlin, ed. Pp.61-77. Köln: Kölner Beiträge zu Archäologie und Kulturwissenschaften.

2014, with David M. Carballo and Gary M. Feinman. Cooperation and Collective Action in the Cultural Evolution of Complex Societies. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 21:98–133. DOI 10.1007/s10816-012-9147-2.

2014, The End of War in Papua New Guinea: ‘Crime’ and ‘Tribal Warfare’ in Post-colonial States. Anthropologica 56:327-339.

2014, A Changing Climate for Anthropological and Archaeological Research? Improving the Climate Change Models. American Anthropologist 116:535-548.

2014, Foragers and War in Contact-era New Guinea. In Violence and Warfare among Hunter-Gatherers, Mark W. Allen and Terry L. Jones, eds. Pp.223-240. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.

2013 War, Collective Action, and the ‘Evolution’ of Polities. Cultural and Evolutionary Dynamics of Cooperation, David Carballo, ed. Pp.57-82. Boulder, CO: Colorado University Press.

2012 The Contact-era Economics of the Polynesian Outlier Communities. In Polynesian Outliers; The State of the Art. Richard Feinberg and Richard Scaglion, eds. Pp.91-108. Ethnology Monographs, No.21. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

2012 Social Signaling, Conflict Management, and the Construction of Peace. In War, Peace, and Human Nature: The Convergence of Evolutionary and Cultural Views, Douglas P. Fry, ed. Pp.475-494. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2012 “Before Elites: The Political Capacities of Big-Men.” In Before Elites: Alternatives to Hierarchical Systems in Modelling Social Formations, Vol.1, Tobias L. Kienlein and Andreas Zimmerman, eds. Pp.41-54. Universitätsforschungen zur prähistorischen Archäologie, Volume 215. Bonn: Rudolp Habelt. Article pdf

2011″Dead Birds: The ‘Theater’ of War among the Dugum Dani.” American Anthropologist 113 56-70. Article pdf

2011 “The Abelam ‘Invasion’ and the Rise of Ilahita Revisted.” In Echoes of the Tambaran, David Lipset and Paul Roscoe, eds. The Australian National University, pp.25-43. Article pdf

2010 “War, Community, and Environment in the Levantine Neolithic.” Neo-Lithics 1(10): 66-67.

2009 with Ulrike Claas, “A Journey up the Sepik River in 1887.” Journal of Pacific History 44:333-343

2009 “On the ‘Pacification’ of the European Neolithic: Ethnographic Analogy and the Neglect of History.” World Archaeology 41:578-588.

2009 “Social signaling and the Organization of Small-scale Society: The Case of Contact-era New Guinea”. Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 16:69-116.

2009 with Ulrike Claas, “Hot Air and the Colonialist ‘Other’.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. 15:131-150

2008 “Settlement Fortification in Village and ‘Tribal’ Society: Evidence from Contact-era New Guinea.” Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 27:507-519.

2007 “Intelligence, Coalitional Killing, and the Antecedents of War.” American Anthropologist 109:485-495.

2006 with Laurie Bragge and Ulrike Claas, “On the Edge of Empire: Military Brokerage in the Sepik Tribal Zone.” American Ethnologist 33:100-113.

2006 “Fish, Game, and the Foundations of Complexity in Forager Society: The Evidence from New Guinea.” Cross-Cultural Research: The Journal of Comparative Social Science. 40:29-46.

2004 with Borut Telban, “The People of the Lower Arafundi: Tropical Foragers of the New Guinea Rainforest.” Ethnology 43:93-115.

2003 “Margaret Mead, Reo Fortune, and Mountain Arapesh Warfare.” American Anthropologist, 105:581-591.

2002 “The Hunters and Gatherers of New Guinea.” Current Anthropology 43:153-162.

2000 “New Guinea Leadership as Ethnographic Analogy.” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 7(2):79-126.

2000 “Costs, Benefits, Typologies, and Power: The Evolution of Political Hierarchy.” In Michael Diehl (ed.), Hierarchies in Action: Cui Bono?. Pp.113-133. Center for Archaeological Research, University of Southern Illinois, Carbondale.

1996 “War and Society in Sepik New Guinea.” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 2:645-666.

1995 “Familiar Partners? The Mountain Arapesh and the Westermarck Effect.” The Journal of Anthropological Research 51:347-362.


Telephone: 207.581.1896

Fax: 207.581.1823

Email: paul.roscoe@maine.edu

Department of Anthropology
University of Maine
5773 S. Stevens Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5773

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