This paper suggests that, rather than investigating “the origin of the state” within familiar sociopolitical typologies based on general evolution, anthropologists (I) study specific processes of state formation and (2) view sociopolitical transformations as a dynamic, continuous, processual evolution rather than as a succession of types. Data from several populations of Madagascar are used to illustrate material correlates of sociopolitical organization and the synergistic interaction of variables in specific sequences leading to state organization. Questioning the significance of distinguishing between pristine and secondary states, the article asserts that both local and regional factors must be analyzed as determinant inputs in processes of state formation.
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