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Ku Waru
Language and Segmentary Politics in the Western Nebilyer Valley, Papua New Guinea


Part of Studies in the Social and Cultural Foundations of Language

  • Date Published: April 2006
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521025249


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About the Authors
  • The highlanders of New Guinea are renowned for their elaborate systems of ceremonial exchange. This book is the first to concentrate on exchange events and the elaborate oratory used at them. Focusing on a remarkable set of warfare compensation payments which, for the first time, involved women as transactors, Francesca Merlan and Alan Rumsey advance our understanding of the interaction between social structures and historical events, and of the crucial role of talk. This book will be of special interest to anthropologists and linguists.

    Reviews & endorsements

    "The writing admirably combines detailed ethnography, clear summaries of the state of the Melanesianist field, and the broader theoretical implications of their work. Ethnography at its best." Social & Behavioral Sciences

    "As the data are excellent and provide much food for thought, the book certainly validates its claim 'to contribute to a more fully accountable anthropology of situated action'....a major contribution to the textual microstudy of exchange systems." Eric Schwimmer, Pacific Affairs

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2006
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521025249
    • length: 412 pages
    • dimensions: 234 x 156 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.58kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    List of tables
    List of abbreviations
    Preface and acknowledgments
    1. Introduction
    2. The setting
    3. Some aspects of Ku Waru segmentary sociality
    4. Ceremonial exchange and marriage in the Western Nebilyer Valley
    5. Some linguistic structures of segmentary politics
    6. Warfare compensation payment of Laulku: an analysis
    7. Compensation at Palimung and the Kulka women's club
    8. The events in perspective
    9. Perspectives on 'event'
    Appendices: A. Transcript of proceedings at Kailge on July 24, 1983
    B. Grammatical sketch of Bo Una, Ku Waru dialect
    C. The conduct of warfare
    D. Ku Waru metalinguistic expressions
    Chapter notes

  • Authors

    Francesca Merlan, University of Sydney

    Alan Rumsey, Australian National University, Canberra

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