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Henri J. M. Claessen

Henri Joannes Maria Claessen (born 1930, Wormerveer) is a cultural anthropologist specialized in the early state and Professor Emeritus in Social Anthropology at Leiden University,[1] He is an honorary member of several scholarly institutions (Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde [Royal Institute for Languages and Anthropology of the Royal Academy of Sciences]); Center for Asian and Pacific Studies (University of Nijmegen); Honorary Lifetime Member of the IUAES (International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences).


  • Background and education 1
  • Early State Research 2
  • Complex Interaction Model 3
  • Selected works 4
  • References 5
  • See also 6

Background and education

Claessen studied Of Princes and Peoples, a comparative study of the political organization of five Early States (ideology and legitimacy, he edited with Jarich G. Oosten in 1996 Ideology and the Formation of Early States. In his Structural Change was given a survey of evolution and evolutionism in Cultural anthropology. With Renée Hagesteijn and Pieter van de Velde he edited a special issue of Social Evolution & History under the title Thirty Years of Early State Research (2008).[6] Apart from a number of publications in Dutch, he contributed articles in English on traditional Polynesia in Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, and articles on evolutionism in Social Evolution & History where he is a member of the Editorial Council.[7]

Complex Interaction Model

Claessen's school developed a "Complex Interaction Model" (CIM) to explain the evolution of sociopolitical organization and early state formation, according to the model factors such as ideology, economy and societal format become aligned in ways which favour state organisation.

Not only the number of people was relevant, but also the number of people in relation to the means of production, and the spatial distribution of the population, which both played a role in the evolution of socio-political organization. We therefore coined the term societal format, which covers the number of people, possible population pressure, and spatial distribution) [8]

Selected works

  • 1978. The Early State: A Structural Approach. In Claessen, H. J. M., and Skalník, P. (eds.), The Early State (pp. 533–596). The Hague: Mouton.
  • 1981. Specific Features of the African Early State. In Claessen, H. J. M., and Skalník, P. (eds.), The Study of the State (pp. 59–86). The Hague: Mouton.
  • 1983. Evolutionary or not evolutionary; That's the question. Reviews in Anthropology 10: 21-24 [1].
  • 1984. The Internal Dynamics of the Early State. Current Anthropology 25: 365–379
  • 1985. From the Franks to France; The Evolution of a Political Organization. In Claessen, H. J. M., van de Velde, P., and Smith, M. E. (eds.), Development and Decline (pp. 196–218). South Hadley, MA: Bergin & Garvey.
  • 1989. Evolutionism in Development. Vienne Contributions to Ethnology and Anthropology 5: 231–247.
  • 1991. Verdwenen koninkrijken en verloren beschavingen [Disappeared Kingdoms and Lost Civilizations]. Assen: Van Gorcum.
  • 1996. Ideology and the formation of early states: Data from Polynesia. In. H. J.M. Claessen and J. G. Oosten (Eds.), Ideology and the formation of early states (pp. 339–358). Leiden: Brill.
  • 2000. Structural Change; Evolution and Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology. Leiden: CNWS Press.
  • 2002. Was the State Inevitable? Social Evolution & History 1(1) : 101–117.
  • 2005. Early State Intricacies. Social Evolution & History 4(2): 151–158.
  • 2006. with Martin A. van Bakel: Theme and variations. The development of differences in Polynesian socio-political organizations. In: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde. 162:218-268.
  • 2008. Before the Early State and After. Social Evolution & History 7(1): 4–18 [2].
  • 2009. Learning and training. Education in eighteenth century traditional Polynesia. In: Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkeknkunde 165: 324-356.
  • 2010 On early states - structure, development, and fall. In: Social Evolution and History 9(1):3-51 [3].
  • Claessen, H. J. M. & P. Kloos. Evolutie en evolutionisme (1978).
  • Claessen, H. J. M. & P. van de Velde. Een intercultureel model voor het feodalisme. In: Evomatica, ed. by Pieter van de Velde, pp. 203–215. Leiden: Institute of Cultural Anthropology Publication 42. (1981)
  • Claessen, H. J. M. & P. van de Velde. Complexe interactie. Een proces-model ter verklaring van de evolutie van de sociaal-politieke organisatie. Antropologische Verkenningen 3:120-136.(1984)


  1. ^ Toon van Meijl. Valedictory lecture by Professor Henri J. M. Claessen [4]
  2. ^ H.J.M. Claessen at the University of Amsterdam Album Academicum website
  3. ^ Bondarenko D. M. Claessen H. J. M. In Great Russian Encyclopedia. Vol. 14 / Ed. by Yu. M. Osipov. Moscow: Russian Encyclopedia, 2009. P. 220
  4. ^ Jarich G. Oosten, Pieter van de Velde 'Constructing the early state: The Rise of a Research Programme'. In 'Pivot Politics. Changing Cultural Identities in Early State Formation Processes'. Ed. by Martin van Bakel, Renee Hagesteijn, Pieter van de Velde. Amsterdam: Het Spinhuis, 1994
  5. ^ Leonid Grinin Early State, Developed State, Mature State: The Statehood Evolutionary Sequence [5]
  6. ^ Thirty Years of Early State Research. Special Issue. Social Evolution & History. Vol. 7, num. 1. 2008 [6]
  7. ^ Social Evolution & History homepage
  8. ^ Claessen H. J. M. 2000. Problems, Paradoxes, and Prospects of Evolutionism. In Kradin, N. N., Korotayev, A. V., Bondarenko, D. M., de Munck, V., and Wason, P. K. (eds.), Alternatives of Social Evolution (pp. 1–11). Vladivostok: FEB RAS.- P. 3

See also

  • Henri Claessen
  • Bondarenko D. M. Claessen H. J. M. In Great Russian Encyclopedia. Vol. 14 / Ed. by Yu. M. Osipov. Moscow: RussianEncyclopedia, 2009. P. 220.
  • Dmitri Bondarenko, Andrey Korotayev. 'Early State' in Cross-Cultural Perspective: A Statistical Reanalysis of Henri J. M. Claessen’s Database. Cross-Cultural Research February 2003, vol. 37, no. 1, 105-132.
  • Jean-Claude Muller. Compte Rendus de Henri J. M. Claessen and Peter Skalnik (Eds.): The Early State. New Babylon. Studies in the Social Sciences. Anthropologie et Sociétés, vol. 4, n° 1, 1980, p. 181-185.
  • Carneiro's Circumscription Theory
  • Surplus product
Claessen's thesis, [5] Henri Claessen has devoted much of his scholarly career to the study of Early States. The concept of the early state introduced by Henri J. M. Claessen and Peter Skalník appears to have been the last among the great epoch-making political-anthropological theories of the 1960s and 1970s.

Early State Research


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