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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

£ 62.00

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About the Authors
  • The highlanders of New Guinea are renowned for their elaborate systems of ceremonial exchange. Although much has been written about them, previous accounts have concentrated far less on the conduct of exchange events than on the structure of exchange systems. This 1991 book deals centrally with the conduct of particular exchange events, and shows through examination of them how larger social structures are reproduced and transformed. As part of the emphasis on exchange as social action, the book closely examines the oratory that plays a crucial part in the events. Basing their study on original fieldwork carried out in the Nebilyer Valley, Francesca Merlan and Alan Rumsey focus on an inter related set of large-scale compensation payments which arose out of an episode of warfare. This book furthers our understanding of the interaction between social structures and historical events; and particularly of the crucial role of talk. It will be of special interest to anthropologists and linguists.

    Reviews & endorsements

    '… searching and brilliant re-assessment of social definition in the highlands.' Roy Wagner, Oceania

    '… Merlan and Rumsey have accomplished nothing less than a revolution in the understanding of Central New Guinea Highland sociality'. James F. Weiner, Man

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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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