Chapter

The Defeat of Hierarchy: Cosmological Authentication in Australia and New Guinea Bones and Stones

Annette B. Weiner

in Inalienable Possessions

Published by University of California Press

Published in print May 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076037
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520911802 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520076037.003.0005
The Defeat of Hierarchy: Cosmological Authentication in Australia and New Guinea Bones and Stones

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The aims in this chapter are twofold: First, to reexamine exchange in a range of societies without the formal establishment of ranking and hierarchy, from foraging groups to egalitarian and big-man societies, and to show how ownership of inalienable possessions still generates difference that establishes a degree of political autonomy for women and men. Second, to draw on data from diverse societies where descent is reckoned patrilineally to show how, even in these cases, men's and women's autonomy is dependent upon the bonds of brother–sister intimacy. Keeping to the general Pacific area, the chapter takes examples from several Australian Aboriginal groups and from the Bimin–Kuskusmin and Melpa peoples of Papua New Guinea. Comparisons show how the development of hierarchy is limited by the authentication and circumscription of inalienable possessions as well as by the way the roles of men as brothers conflict with their roles as spouses.

Keywords: exchange; ranking; hierarchy; ownership; autonomy; brother–sister intimacy; Aborigines; Bimin–Kuskusmin; Melpa

Chapter.  14260 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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