John W. Schoenfelder 

Archaeologist and anthropologist

rice fields painting


Welcome!  I am a 2003 archaeology and ethnoarchaeology Ph.D. graduate of the UCLA Anthropology Department.  My dissertation, focused on the Gianyar Regency of Bali (Indonesia), explores causal linkages between the development and spread of irrigated rice agriculture and the evolution of Balinese political institutions.  Special attention is paid to the use of materialized ideological statements in power negotiations between polity and non-polity social groups.

At present, this web page is intended to serve as a basic hub providing access to several resources:

To view my "PDF" papers you will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader.  In the last few years many computers have been sold with this free program pre-installed; if you don't have it, you can get it from Adobe's site.


Below is a fuller description of my activities.  This text was last updated in late 2002; see my 2003 dissertation abstract for other information.

What I'm doing:
    Recent ethnographic and computer work by the ethnographer Stephen Lansing suggests that a process of self-organization could have been responsible for the emergence of Bali's yield-enhancing autonomous "complex adaptive system" of agromanagerial water temples. In my dissertation I am evaluating the possibility that 19th century Bali's ritual-focused Hindu polities and highly "heterarchical" organizational patterns may in part have been results of self-organization processes which occurred among community irrigation societies.  I am currently examining this possibility by tracing the spread of irrigated rice agriculture through time, using archaeological site distributions and analyses of extant canals and paddy field systems as my guides.  Compiling and synthesizing the required data will substantially improve our knowledge of Balinese culture history over the past two millennia; on a more theoretical level, I will be investigating the plausibility of a picture of the past in which, through the self-organization of new institutions, whole societies can be transformed by changes in the interaction patterns among agents in a single sector -- the agricultural sector in this case, though not perhaps in all.
    As of early 2001, articles discussing aspects of my Bali work have appeared in the Bulletin of the Indo-Pacific Prehistory Association and (with Vernon Scarborough and Stephen Lansing) in Research in Economic Anthropology.  Forthcoming articles are slated to appear in the Journal of Anthropological Archaeology and elsewhere (see my vita).  A post-dissertation research program using survey and excavation to further investigate first  millennium AD transformations in Bali's political and economic systems is in its early stages, with Dr. Elisabeth Bacus (Institute of Archaeology, University College London) and Dr. I Wayan Ardika (Universitas Udayana, Denpasar) as my co-directors.  The first phase of this project is being funded by the National Science Foundation under the umbrella of an interdisciplinary project entitled Biocomplexity: Emergence of Cooperation from Human-Environmental Interactions in Bali, which is under the overall direction of Dr. J. Stephen Lansing of the University of Arizona.
    My research interests include Indo-Pacific pre- and protohistory, complex adaptive systems, causality in social change, ethnohistory, complex heterogeneity, agricultural technology, sources of legitimacy, and functions of religion and cosmology.  My UCLA master's thesis, The Politics of Absolution: Restricted Access and Ritual Subordination at the Hawaiian Pu`uhonua, analyzes the social roles of reputed refuge sites throughout the Hawaiian Islands.


This page last revised on September 16, 2003