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Poor Man, Rich Man, Big-man, Chief: Political Types in Melanesia and Polynesia*

  • Marshall D. Sahlins (a1)

With an eye to their own life goals, the native peoples of Pacific Islands unwittingly present to anthropologists a generous scientific gift: an extended series of experiments in cultural adaptation and evolutionary development. They have compressed their institutions within the confines of infertile coral atolls, expanded them on volcanic islands, created with the means history gave them cultures adapted to the deserts of Australia, the mountains and warm coasts of New Guinea, the rain forests of the Solomon Islands. From the Australian Aborigines, whose hunting and gathering existence duplicates in outline the cultural life of the later Paleolithic, to the great chiefdoms of Hawaii, where society approached the formative levels of the old Fertile Crescent civilizations, almost every general phase in the progress of primitive culture is exemplified.

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Irving Goldman , “Status Rivalry and Cultural Evolution in Polynesia”, American Anthropologist 57:680697 (1955).

George Grace , “Subgroupings of Malayo-Polynesian: A Report of Tentative Findings”, American Anthropologist 57:337–39 (1955).

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H. Ian Hogbin , “Social Advancement in Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands”, Oceania 8:289305 (19371938).

H. Ian Hogbin , “The Hill People of North-eastern Guadalcanal”, Oceania 8:6289 (19371938a).

H Hogbin . and Camilla H. Wedgwood , “Local Groupings in Melanesia”, Oceania 23:241276; 24:58–76 (19521953, 1953–54).

Phyllis M. Kaberry , “The Abelam Tribe, Sepik District, New Guinea: a Preliminary Report”, Oceania 11:233258, 345–367 (19401941).

Phyllis M. Kaberry , “Law and Political Organization in the Abelam Tribe”, Oceania 12:7995, 209–225, 331–363 (19411942).

Margaret Mead , “The Arapesh of New Guinea”, Cooperation and Competition Among Primitive Peoples ( M. Mead , ed.) (New York and London: McGraw-Hill, 1937a).

Mervyn Meggitt , “The Enga of the New Guinea Highlands: Some Preliminary Observations”, Oceania 28:253330 (19571958).

Douglas Oliver , A Solomon Islands Society (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955).

Leopold Pospisil , “The Kapauku Papuans and their Kinship Organization”, Oceania 30:188205 (19581959).

K. E. Read , “Social Organization in the Markham Valley, New Guinea”, Oceania 17:93118 (19461947).

K. E. Read , “The Political System of the Ngarawapum”, Oceania 20:185223 (19491950).

K. E. Read , “The Nama Cult of the Central Highlands, New Guinea”, Oceania 23:125 (19521953).

K. E. Read , “Leadership and Consensus in a New Guinea Society”, American Anthropologist 61:425436 (1959).

Marshall D. Sahlins , “The Segmentary Lineage: An Organization of Predatory Expansion”, American Anthropologist 63:322345 (1961).

Andrew Peter Vayda , “Polynesian Cultural Distributions in New Perspective”, American Anthropologist 61:817828 (1959).

Camilla H Wedgwood ., “Report on Research in Manam Island, Mandated Territory of New Guinea”, Oceania 4:373403 (1933–1934).

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Comparative Studies in Society and History
  • ISSN: 0010-4175
  • EISSN: 1475-2999
  • URL: /core/journals/comparative-studies-in-society-and-history
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