"Easter Island syndrome" is the name given to self-inflicted ecocides
: situations in which a group of people cause their own collapse by destroying their natural environment
It is for example applied when talking about the Anasazi peoples
, who allegedly overexploited their natural resources and caused their own demise due to soil erosion, falling crop yields, and violent wars
Decolonial history of Rapa Nui
Rapa Nui, the indigenous name of Easter Island
, is an extremely remote island located in the Pacific Ocean, over 2000km away from any other inhabited territory. Some historians came up with the thesis that its inhabitants were responsible for their own collapse, due to a combination of deforestation, warfare, and even cannibalism
This view of Rapa Nui's collapse became accepted by the mainstream public, despite much evidence showing that not only were the natives of Rapa Nui extremely well aware of their environment's delicate balance
, but also that the island was actually thriving and its population growing when Europeans first discovered it
, with no archeological evidence whatsoever found of warfare, violence, or cannibalism
In reality, the collapse of Rapa Nui can be entirely attributed to external factors. Discovery of the island by Europeans introduced diseases which decimated its population
. Peruvian raids enslaved and killed over half of the island's population
. European sheep ranchers finished the native genocide by settling on the island and not only enslaving most of its remaining natives, but also destroying the island's forests in order to clear space for pastures
, the very thing its natives have been accused of.
When colonizers first landed on Rapa Nui, its native population was estimated to be in the thousands. Less than two centuries later, it was down to 111 natives, most of them old men without children
. To this day, the descendants of the Rapa Nui natives are still treated like second class citizens by Chile, the country currently colonizing them by claiming ownership of the island. Their struggle is still ongoing
The barbaric nature of colonization
requires excuses and pretexts. Painting colonized cultures as self-destructive fools allows colonizers to pretend to be "helping" them, putting themselves in the role of saviors instead of the monsters that they really are
Knowing what really happened on Rapa Nui, the expression "Easter Island Syndrome" makes no sense and should be retired.
The video below, made by Fall of Civilizations, digs beneath the surface of this topic and presents the whole history of Rapa Nui's natives, in the process dispelling many myths about the island's supposed self-inflicted collapse. Although it is nearly two hours long, it is a highly recommended viewing.
Sources & Links
 The truth about Easter Island: a sustainable society has been falsely blamed for its own demise
on The Conversation.
 Ancestral Puebloans
 Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
 Easter Island
 Easter's End
by Jared Diamond.
 Syndrôme de l'île de Pâques
on french Wikipedia.
 « Questioning Collapse » : des historiens et des anthropologues réfutent la thèse de « l’écocide »
by Entre les lignes entre les mots.
 Busting the Easter Island myth: there was no civilization collapse
by Stephen Johnson on Big Think.
 A Critique: Jared Diamond’s Collapse Put In Perspective
by Emma Gause on UCL Student Journal archive.
 History of Easter Island
 The struggle for freedom on Rapa Nui
on Toward Freedom.