Centre for Agrarian Historical Dynamics

Mission Statement

CAHD considers history, at its best, to be a part of the social sciences. Its ultimate aim should be to establish the laws that govern the evolution of human societies. All scientific endeavour consist of two parts; one is the gathering of accurate information, the other the discovery of general rules or laws that explain the facts. It is a peculiarity of the discipline of history that, although it has been very industrious in gathering information, even to the extent of producing fine logical explanations to individual events or processes, it has neglected the second part of the scientific endeavour, that of establishing general laws to explain the facts.

This negligence of historians has produced a certain vacuum when it comes to establishing the laws of social evolution, a vacuum that scientists from other fields have often and understandably invaded. Anthropologists, political scientists and sociologists have sometimes sought to fill this 'no-mans-land' and their contributions are often valuable but, as they usually lack expertise in gathering facts about societies that no longer exists, they have a tendency to base their laws on current societies that can be studied directly and then apply them to older societies as well. While this approach can give interesting results it is methodologically questionable since there is no guarantee that the variety of current societies accurately represents the variety of previous societies. We need to determine general laws that are based on actual historical research and not just borrowed from other social sciences.

The exception, of course, is anthropological archaeology, which actually does more or less much what we are suggesting; develops laws from their actual hands-on research of their archaeological source material. However, archaeology is primarily concerned with prehistoric societies and even when it tries its hand at researching historical societies it tends to refer the greater questions and the broader perspective to historians which, unfortunately, rarely live up to the task. Therefore, archaeology usually does not, in its analyses, include societies that are primarily known through written sources. This is unfortunate since the mere presence of literacy does not necessarily change the nature of social relationships and including data from both illiterate and literate societies would obviously enhance our chances of discovering laws that apply to both.

We need to examine prehistoric, historical and current societies to establish the laws of social evolution. We, here at CAHD, are lending our hand to this enormous project but, because of its enormity, we limit ourselves to the study of agricultural societies.