History of Ponam Island
Ponam society had, quite obviously, a past, and we will present that past in this chapter. In doing so, however, we will not be making any arguments about historical necessity or evolutionary sequence. Rather, we undertook historical investigation and we present historical description because we think that these help cast Ponam society in relief, help show what had changed, and hence help suggest the ways different aspects of Ponam economy and society might be related. Equally, since our task is to see how colonization and articulation with the developing capitalist sphere in Papua New Guinea has affected the realm of kinship and exchange relations on Ponam Island, it is necessary for us to present a historical reconstruction of how things were and how they changed. We see history, then, as a source of data that aids understanding of social relationships, rather than as a causal force in its own right. The relationships that concern us particularly are those between the production of wealth and the organization of kinship and exchange.
The history we present in this chapter is, thus, history of a particular sort with a particular purpose. It is essentially a colonial history, an attempt to see what were the main ways that colonization appeared and developed in the Admiralty Islands. As this indicates, what we present is no sort of ethnohistory, no recitation of the way Ponams presented their past to themselves, but is instead the result of our own desire to answer specific questions that were part of our own research project.
Although we present a history of the Admiralty Islands in this chapter, our construction of that history is, and seems likely to have to remain, conjectural in part. While there is historical infor-
mation of some depth and quality for the region, it seems unlikely that we ever will be able to command the sort of historical resources that have been displayed in Richard Salisbury's presentation of Tolai history (1970) or Peter Lawrence's discussion of the history of the Rai Coast of Madang (1964).
Our basic problem, of course, is that precolonial Manus is inaccessible. If we take "precolonial" to mean "before substantial colonial influence," rather than "before formal colonization," we are talking about events no less than some eighty-five years ago, and perhaps no less than a century ago. Our oldest informant was born around 1910, so even he was able to report only the stories he heard from the members of his parents' generation; for most Ponam adults these are the events of the grandparental generation and before; thus, the number of available Ponam informants is a far cry from the luxuriant supply of eyewitnesses that exists in many parts of the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Written sources are somewhat more reliable than this sort of thirdhand oral testimony, or at least we feel more comfortable assessing their reliability and discounting their likely biases. Here too, however, the pickings are relatively slim. The only nineteenth-century sources worth much are German company and official correspondence, analyzed in detail by V. E. King (1978), and the papers coming out of the Challenger visit in 1875 (esp. Moseley 1876–1877). However, these are good for little more than isolated facts: we learned, for instance, that Ponams had enough contact with Europeans around the turn of the century to acquire a reputation as sharp traders. Richard Parkinson spent many years in the Bismarck archipelago before 1900, including the Admiralty Islands, and because he was more of a social observer than the more ephemeral German scribblers, his material is useful for getting a glimpse of life in early Manus. The German South Seas expedition passed through about 1910, but the anthropologists attached to it were more concerned with the minutiae of material culture than social structure or regional economic structure. The last of these relatively early sources was the missions that entered the area, though we hestiate over the adjective "early," because the first mission to establish itself, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC), did not arrive until 1913.
Government reports have been only somewhat useful. The Ger-
man and later Australian Annual Reports usually are too general to be of much use, Manus being as insignificant a backwater then as it was at the time of fieldwork. The more detailed Australian patrol reports for Manus, however, seem to have disappeared in the bombardment of Rabaul in World War II, though there are rumors that returning Australian officials made bonfires of what was left. However these records may have disappeared, disappear they did.
The best early source, though here "early" clearly is a misnomer, comes from 1928, when Margaret Mead and Reo Fortune went to Pere village, and they provide the first real description of life in a Manus society. But even here there are problems. First, Mead and Fortune did not enter the field until well after pacification was complete. Second, Mead at least was much more willing to report generalizations than the facts on which she based them. Third, both she and Fortune were in southeast Manus, also the place where Parkinson and most of the Germans spent their time, so that the bulk of Manus remained a large blank.
So, prior to World War II our sources are limited: Mead and Fortune, aided a bit by Parkinson and the Germans, and some annual reports. This lack of information required us to speculate to fill the gaps, though the sorts of issues that concern us in this book meant there were relatively few gaps. Had our concern been, for instance, symbolism or myth we would have been in an unenviable position. We filled our gaps by starting with what we knew of postwar Manus. From this we tried to figure out the general trajectory of Manus economic and social history for the last forty years or so: the nature of the changes and the nature of the forces that had been responsible for them. These were straightforward enough: a growing dependence on remittances and a deterioration of local trade, brought about in Ponam's case by the increased fishing of the coastal villagers opposite them on the mainland who formerly had lived well inland. We then projected this general trajectory backwards to 1928 and used it to give us a framework through which we could approach Mead and Fortune's work. This helped us to see how kinship and social structure related to economics at that time in a different way than they did during the period of our fieldwork. We then projected further back, to Parkinson and the German material, though this was thin enough that
all we could do was see to what degree it accorded with or contradicted the model we were developing. We could not really use it to elaborate the model much.
It was only at this stage, when we had a fairly complete model, that we began to worry very much about what Ponams had to say about their own distant past. Further, we were concerned largely to get them to address specific issues that our own analysis had suggested were important, rather than to have them present their own construction of the past. In other words, our historical model led us to define certain issues as important, and the questions we asked Ponams were designed first to see if the general model was correct, and second to fill in the important areas in which we wanted more information.
Throughout the later chapters of the book, which deal with the substantive aspects of Ponam economic life, we introduce historical discussions where we think they will be useful for understanding the topics we address. By their very nature, however, those discussions are fragmented. Our purpose in the present chapter is to lay out a systematic history, a background that provides an overall context for the later historical discussion, though inevitably some of those discussions will repeat information presented in this chapter. Because we mean this chapter to provide a general background for the rest of the book, it revolves around the areas that are central to the main themes we pursue later: production of wealth, circulation of wealth, kinship, and ceremonial exchange, their social correlates and the impact colonization had on them.
The Economy of Early Colonial Manus
We begin by describing the system of production, circulation, kinship, and exchange in early colonial Manus, which we think is probably broadly similar to late precolonial Manus, especially in the spheres of production and circulation. We will attend exclusively to the internal economy of early Manus, for unlike many of the regional economic systems in precolonial Melanesia, Manus was rather sharply bounded, being separated from neighboring areas in the Bismarck Archipelago by substantial stretches of open sea.
The region was not, of course, totally isolated. Nonetheless, the trade between Manus and other areas of Melanesia appears to have had no substantial impact on the region, and we ignore it here.
As will be clear, the Manus regional economy was characterized by an extensive division of production within the region and a sophisticated system of circulation that distributed local products throughout the region. Manus, then, was similar to a number of societies in coastal and island Melanesia, where complex systems of production and circulation also existed. The best-reported of these are the Vitiaz Straits trade system (Harding 1967), the system of coastwise and inland trade around Vunamami (Salisbury 1970), and the kula trade in the Milne Bay area (e.g., Malinowski 1922), though this is more famous for its system of circulation of exchange valuables. Although there was some specialized production in the inland Highlands area of Papua New Guinea, this was not developed extensively, and in this region longer-distance trade and circulation seem to have centered around shell valuables (Hughes 1977).
As we said in chapter 1, Manus consists of a relatively large mainland, the adjacent islands of Manus and Los Negros, circled by a number of offshore islands of varying sorts. Before extensive colonial penetration the region had an integrated economic system based on local specialization in the production of goods. There were two main types of specialization, ecological and social. Ecologically the region was differentiated sharply. At one pole were a number of villages built in lagoons or on small infertile islands, whose residents specialized in transport and marine products. At the other pole were villages of mainland Manus, with extensive land resources but in most cases no access to the sea. In between were people from the large, high islands off the south coast who had both gardens and reefs. In addition, a few areas had natural resources of special worth: for instance Lou Island had obsidian, Mbuke and certain mainland areas had pottery clay, and some of the small north coast islands had beds of Imbricaria punctata , the basis of shell money.
This basic ecological division into agricultural and marine societies had an important social underpinning, the relatively continuous warfare between mainland groups and their island and offshore counterparts, especially when either group tried to colonize
the coastal strip. This made it more difficult for any group to have access to both soil and sea, though some did (e.g., Kuluah 1977), so helping maintain the division of production.
Ecological specialization was supplemented by three sorts of social specialization. First is what we call patents, whereby patrilineages or whole villages owned the right to manufacture a specialty or to exploit certain natural resources. Generally these rights were recognized by other communities, but they could be challenged or protected by force. Second is trade monopolies, in which a community controlled trade in a raw material and hence had a de facto manufacturing monopoly. Thus the people of Ahus Island off the north coast had a trade monopoly on pottery clay from a site owned by a mainland group, which gave them an effective monopoly on the north coast production of pots. The third was informal specialization: some individuals or groups were known to be better and more skilled producers of certain goods than others.
Manus, then, was a region in which there was extensive control over certain sources of wealth. Different villages and agnatic groups controlled different productive resources, techniques, and trade routes. There was no overarching regional institution that would recognize and enforce this control, and it seems likely that control was threatened, and had to be defended, fairly often. However, the regional ideology of kinship and patrilineal descent played a significant role in legitimating claims to control over resources and techniques and access to them. Thus, while control may have been tenuous at times, there also was a framework by means of which it was recognized and made legitimate. Here, then, production and kinship meet, as they probably have done throughout Manus history.
As the preceding discussion suggests, many different goods were the subject of specialized production, though both written sources (esp. Mead 1930, 1963 ; Parkinson 1907; Schwartz 1963) and our own informants suggest that different places specialized in different goods and services at different times. These sources indicate that many different sorts of things were local specialties, including: bananas, beds, canoes, coconuts, coconut oil, combs, dancing poles, dishes, dog's teeth, gourds, lime, nets, obsidian, oil containers, pigs, pots, sails, sea transport, shell
money, taro, turtles, war charms, woodwork, and yams. As far as we know, these goods and services, as well as others that were produced or provided more widely, moved or were used throughout the region and were important in every community. This movement entailed an elaborate system of circulation which helped integrate the region into a single complex economic unit. There were three types of circulation: commercial exchange, the direct exchange of goods at preestablished rough prices or equivalents between people who were not necessarily kin; ceremonial exchange, the exchange of gifts between mutually obligated kin as part of the celebration of social events; and trade partnerships, exchange between trade partners or kawas , which falls somewhere between commercial and ceremonial exchange. (We discuss these at greater length in chapters 4 and 6.)
Commercial exchange took place most frequently at the markets located around the coast of the main island, organized and overseen usually by an island or offshore village together with a mainland village, a practice that was rare in early Papua New Guinea, though Salisbury (1970) says it existed in Vunamami. Within the market anyone was free to do business with anyone else. Ponams remembered separate markets with three groups of mainlanders; each was held every three or four days, so there was a market somewhere almost every day. Island seafood and mainland vegetables were the most important goods, but raw materials and manufactures could be traded as well. While marketers and traders often demanded a particular item in return for their own goods, equally, within the market, and indeed everywhere, anything could be exchanged for anything else without prejudice: there appear to have been no formal spheres of exchange (Mead 1930, 122, 130). Supplementing the market trade was a certain amount of direct exchange or purchase carried on at the same time but outside the marketplace, either between relatives or between unrelated people mediated by a common relative. Unlike the market trade, this predominantly was for manufactured goods and raw materials.
In addition to commercial exchange and overwhelming it in ideological importance was ceremonial exchange, the most spectacular form of which Ponams and many others called lapan : prestigious exchanges between the leaders (lapan ) of different commu-
nities, which helped integrate the region socially and economically. Formerly the lapan were a hereditary elite, with individuals and patrilineal groups having the status, and with men passing it on to their children. According to Ponams the primary gift given by the sponsoring village was its main specialist product, so that, for example, Ponam held shell moneylapan , Ahus had pot lapan , and Andra had fish lapan . In addition to the major gift-giving and accompanying ceremony that made lapan the preeminent political and ceremonial event, there was the opportunity for trade and commerce generally. Ponams who had seen some of the last lapan described them as being like the Provincial Show, drawing people together from all over Manus for the display of skill and wealth and for the exchange and sale of goods.
The other important form of ceremonial exchange was between affines. Margaret Mead (esp. 1934) has described affinal exchange in the Titan-speaking areas of southeast Manus in the late 1920s. The basic features of her account do not differ significantly from what Ponams told us, and we think her description is generally valid throughout the region. Affinal exchange consisted of an extended series of payments from the husband's parents and siblings to the wife's parents and siblings, and the reverse. The initial exchange took place at betrothal, followed by brideprice, and exchanges at marriage, first pregnancy, the maturity of the marriage, and the death of each spouse. Furthermore, affinal exchanges also took place in association with the totemic life-crisis rituals associated with marriage, childbirth, death, and the termination of mourning, as well as with the various rituals of the life crises of the children of the marriage. Certainly not all of these exchanges were made for every marriage, but many, even most, took place for most marriages, a system that produced a fairly high level of exchange activity.
Affinal exchange was not important only because it created and legitimated social identity and social relations. It was important also because these exchanges served to integrate different communities, though less directly than did the lapan exchanges. Even though Ponam, Pere, and apparently all Manus villages, were primarily endogamous (Schwartz 1963, 62), affinal exchange necessarily involved intervillage trade, because many of the gifts were specialist goods that had to be imported, and because these ex-
changes required more than a single person or his immediate kin could accumulate alone. For both reasons people had to draw on trade partners in other villages.
Trade partners, kawas , relatives in other villages, were used not only for special occasions, but also to help provide basic foodstuffs and other necessities of daily living. As Ponams remembered it, trade partners could sell goods to each other or exchange them directly, but kawas trade also routinely involved long-term, large-scale obligations: a Ponam who wanted sago for a large exchange could present a trade partner with a thousand fish or a belt of shell money a year or more in advance. By having trade partners in different regions of Manus an individual could trade for the products of those regions. In fact, trade partners made travel itself possible, as often it was unsafe to visit where one did not have kin.
As this suggests, a certain amount of intergroup marriage, the basis of the trade relationship, was necessary for the circulation of goods through the region, in spite of the common pattern of village endogamy. While a certain number of exogamous marriages were made normally, a significant number resulted from the capture of women in warfare, for some of whom a subsequent brideprice payment was made. Genealogies of precolonial Ponam show, for instance, that capture marriage was not unusual. Thus, warfare not only helped to differentiate Manus people ecologically, it also helped provide the kinship links between them. However the marriages took place, Ponams married into villages all along the north Manus coast, though not into the south coast until this century, and generally they married people from other offshore islands, rather than from mainland Manus.
Thus, early Manus consisted of a number of separate and often antagonistic village societies in an integrated system of production and circulation. This rested on socially and ecologically based control over production specializations, which was maintained from time to time by force. This division of labor supported and was supported by an extensive system of commercial and ceremonial circulation, itself largely the consequence of marriage, either intravillage marriage, the occasion of affinal exchange, or intervillage marriage, the genealogical basis of kawas trade. The whole system was capped by lapan exchanges, competitive intervillage affairs.
From what we have said, it should be clear that kinship and
marriage played a crucial role in early Manus. We noted that the basis of the legitimation of control over productive resources, techniques, and trade routes was descent, so that production and kinship were closely linked. Likewise, marriage was important, both because it created the bonds of affinity that allowed people to gain access to resources, techniques, and trade routes they themselves did not control, and because it was the reason for affinal exchange, and hence indirectly an important motive for the circulation of goods within the region. Kinship, marriage, and economics came together in affinal exchange, which is important for our understanding both of early Manus and of the effects of colonization.
Affinal Exchange in Early Colonial Manus
We said that affinal exchange played an important part in regional circulation in early colonial Manus. However, affinal exchange was the nexus of other forces which made it even more important. As we said, legitimate control of important aspects of the economy was based on descent constructs. This means that the affinal links solidified in affinal exchange were important for securing access to resources, techniques, and trade routes controlled by others. Likewise, the sheer amount of wealth required to mount an important affinal exchange (especially a brideprice, paid while the husband-to-be was still quite young) created an opportunity for entrepreneurial financiers to play a role. Indeed, to some extent affinal exchange provided the opportunity to negotiate affinity and descent itself and thus the resources to which they gave legitimate access. So it is that around the time of colonization affinal exchange was the place where production, circulation, descent, and affinity all met. The rules and practices of affinal exchange provided a fertile ground for entrepreneurs, offering them both the motive and opportunity for manipulation. This is what happened, and we need to explain how this worked.
At colonization Manus was characterized by pronounced social inequality, with the lapan , the bigmen, gaining their power in a number of different ways, through their manipulation of the economic system. The most obvious was through the control of re-
sources and production. Also, they gained power through debt manipulation in the exchange system. And finally they gained power through commercial activity, mediated by trade partnerships, though this appears to have been more important for the Titans than for many other groups (Mead 1930). Affinal exchange, and marriage more generally, was important in all three of these sources of bigmen's power, illustrating the links between production, circulation, exchange, and kinship. The human link between these different realms was the bigmen, who sought control over each realm to secure control over the others.
Although many people contributed to an exchange, the extensive set of affinal obligations, and particularly brideprice, could only be met by men with a reasonable amount of wealth. Mead (1934) says that while a certain proportion of moderately wealthy Pere men were able to arrange these payments themselves, many were unable to do so, and payments were made on their behalf by their patron, a bigman or aspiring bigman to whom they became indebted. Any man who arranged and financed the marriage of a young man or woman became adoptive father to that person, giving him responsibility for and control over the exchange transaction. Although adoption was extensive, it was not random. Apparently it occurred mostly in just a few circumstances. One was following the death of the father of either the younger siblings or other close relatives of the adopter or his wife. Also important were the adopting of refugees and captives from other villages, of the children of people who were already dependents of the adopter, and of the adopter's spouse's children by previous marriage.
By judicious adoption, then, a bigman could gain control over affinal payments received by his "daughter," thereby increasing his wealth. Equally, he could become responsible for an affinal payment made for his "son," or a return gift made for his "daughter," so putting these people in his debt. This debt put the bigman in a position to command the labor of the people whose affinal payments he financed. Reo Fortune (1935) described how this indebtedness was reinforced by the religious system, the ancestral ghosts who monitored their descendents' behavior and punished those who did not honor their debts. And he notes that this ghostly power extended over adoptive, as well as genealogical, descendents.
Adoption, then, was closely linked to affinal exchange, debt manipulation, and control over labor, and bigmen sought to adopt children before their betrothal and to arrange the marriages of their dependents with the dependents of other bigmen in ways that would further their power and prestige. While extensive adoption was, thus, socially motivated, it is important to note that it had a demographic basis as well. Mead says (1963 , 86) that because of disease and warfare almost no men in early Manus were likely to live long enough to see their own children's marriages, even though most marriages were between couples in their teens, with childbirth following soon after.
Thus, to a substantial degree practical kinship, marriage, and marriage exchange were shaped by the system of adoption and the arrangement and finance of marriages by bigmen. Coupled with this, and reflecting the significance of marriage, was a great emphasis on female virginity, sexual repression, and extreme affinal avoidance (cf. Mead 1963 ).
As we pointed out, the nature of these affinal exchanges was shaped by the ways the system of kinship and exchange meshed with the system of production. Particularly, it was through their influence on and control over the system of kinship and exchange that the bigmen sought to gain control over central elements of the economic system: over production itself and over the commercial activities that sprang from the nature of the division of productive labor in Manus. It was through control of these aspects that the bigmen were able to appropriate wealth produced by the labor of others and so gain the wherewithal to maintain their dominance.
Mead points out that a man whose marriage payments were financed by a bigman was required to work for him to pay off the debt: to catch fish for him, market for him, and visit his trade partners with goods. The dependent in these activities produced wealth, all or part of which was appropriated by the bigman and used to finance further marriage payments, improve his position relative to other bigmen, and so expand his wealth and power. Equally, of course, marriage provided the affinal links that allowed a bigman access to productive resources and techniques owned by others. Likewise, a carefully arranged marriage could allow a bigman to tie himself into trade partnerships with people in other villages and so gain access to the goods there available, as well as
the profits to be gained from trading in them, while assigning much of the work involved in trade and transport to those whose marriages he financed. Entrepreneurial bigmen, then, could and did use affinal exchange to circumvent and manipulate the system of descent-based control over important aspects of economic life in early Manus and so gain access to wealth-production that would otherwise be denied to them.
Domination by bigmen extended over women as well. During childhood and the first stages of marriage, a woman's greatest obligation was to her "father." However, during childbirth and the months immediately after, she was looked after by her "brother," who would carry out certain exchanges for her. Just as whoever arranged a woman's marriage became her father, so whoever arranged these childbirth exchanges became her brother, and bigmen financed many of these as well (Mead 1934, 258–259). In return for this, the women gave their "brothers" shell money and other lesser valuables they produced.
It appears, then, that the size of affinal obligations and the rules of adoption and affinal exchange gave bigmen the opportunity to manipulate the system of kinship and exchange, and the system of descent-based legitimate control of sources of wealth gave them the motive to do so. Put most simply, manipulation of affinal exchanges gave bigmen control over labor and access to trade in specialist goods. They took advantage of these things to create the wealth that allowed them to adopt more children and finance further exchanges.
We want now to show how colonization affected the substance of this system by undercutting its economic supporting structure.
Early Colonial History
The earliest recorded European contact with the main part of Manus was probably by Menezes in 1527 (Hughes 1977, 19), and the first significant contact probably was around the midnineteenth century, through whalers active in the Bismarck Archipelago. Contact intensified after 1870, when the area became a commercial source of pearlshell, tortoiseshell, and beche-de-mer, though it does not seem to have been a significant source of labor in the nineteenth century (Firth 1973, 171–173). By the time of German
annexation in 1884, most Manus were familiar with European goods, if not with Europeans themselves. Iron tools were in use by 1875 on the relatively isolated northwest coast (Moseley 1876–1877, 412), and after the turn of the century Parkinson (1907, 298) saw only metal tools in the region.
At the time of our fieldwork the first non-Melanesian that Ponams could remember was Isokide Komine, who began working in the Bismarck Archipelago in 1902 (Biskup 1970, 103). He was the leading Japanese trader in German New Guinea, and Ponams quickly established friendly relations with him. Most Manus, however, did not have good relations with outsiders during this period. They looted vessels and murdered their crews and lured sound ships to ambush with the same end, attacked trading stations, looted them, and killed whites and their laborers (Sack & Clark 1979). Such attacks usually were made by Titan-speakers, and while they were most exposed to European penetration, it seems likely that in part these attacks were an effort to maintain their traditional domination of local maritime trade in the face of colonization (King 1978, 78). Sporadic German punitive raids were not very successful, and Manus had a bad reputation among Europeans.
Warfare among Manus people seems to have increased as well in the late precolonial and early colonial periods. Groups that were able to capture guns frequently set off raiding, and Ponams were caught up in this. In 1900 they were invaded by an armed group of southern Manus, who swept up around eastern Manus and along the chain of islands off the northeast and north-central coast. Likewise, at about this time Ponams were involved in renewed fighting with their mainland market partners, the Tulu people, though they did not use guns. Ponams said that when Komine's ship wrecked on the north Ponam reef he was carrying guns to Sori Islanders, who were planning to use them to attack Ponam from the west, though German reports do not indicate that Komine was a gunrunner.
If the Germans found it difficult to pacify Manus, largely this was because there were so few Europeans in the area. Continuous European presence began around 1898 with the establishment of a trading station on Kumuli, off southeast Manus. It had two resident agents of the German traders Hernsheim and Company (King 1978, 48; see also Hempenstall 1978, 153). By 1902 there were only
seven resident expatriates (Thompson nd, 6), and the German administration recognized the need for a permanent, well-equipped station in the area (Sack & Clark 1979, 244). Partly as a result of increasing demand for labor, the Germans finally established a permanent station in Lorengau in 1911, and in 1913 claimed control over coastal and island Manus (Firth 1976, 55). In 1915 the new Australian colonial establishment was fourteen white and thirty-three New Guinean police, and as late as 1917 colonial officials in Lorengau were "still involved in attempts to protect Manus coastal villagers against raiders from inland" (Rowley 1958, 40). In 1928 there were only about two dozen whites in Lorengau (Mead 1977, 63), and even at the outbreak of World War II there were only about fifty whites in Lorengau (Jackson 1976, 388).
Although there was no large colonial establishment in the region, economic penetration was taking place. In 1906 people in eastern Manus began to sign labor contracts. In 1908 44 Manus signed such contracts, rising to 823 in 1913 (Firth 1973, 173). In 1906 Hernsheim and Company added six plantations (King 1978, 119) to the two already owned (Sack & Clark 1979, 265). Continuing growth in labor recruiting and plantations was the local manifestation of a tremendous growth in both in German New Guinea between 1900 and 1914, consequent on the recovery and boom in world copra prices after the turn of the century.
These changes affected Ponam. Not long after 1906, Komine, acting for Hernsheim and Company, bought the uninhabited eastern two-thirds of the island and its accompanying reef. He used the land for a plantation and permitted islanders to fish in company waters as long as they sold any trochus they gathered to him. Also, Ponams say that just about all men who became adults after the arrival of Komine signed at least one three-year labor contract, usually for work outside the region. Indeed, the plantations in Manus generally used labor from elsewhere. Like most Manus, Ponams disliked plantation labor, seeking instead work as domestics, boatmen, and best of all policemen, and though many signed initial contracts as laborers, those who could not get better work returned home rather than sign on again.
Although German control was established through force in many areas of Manus, the administrative presence was, apart from labor recruiting, relatively mild after pacification. Missionaries had a greater impact. Methodists and Wesleyans made forays into
Manus at the beginning of the century, but set up no permanent missions (King 1978, 7–8). The first to settle in Manus were the rich German Catholic order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) (see Hempenstall 1975). In 1913 they went to Papitalai in eastern Manus but had no success. Subsequently, in 1916 they moved to Bundralis on the north-central coast opposite Ponam (Kelly nd, 16). (Lutherans and Seventh Day Adventists had established themselves by the 1930s [Schwartz 1962, 223].)
At Bundralis the MSC opened a vernacular school in 1918. By 1923 the growing number and linguistic diversity of students forced a shift to Pidgin for teaching and religious work. Catholicism, the dominant religion in north-central Manus, had more impact than German political control. The missionaries forbade magic and sorcery, thereby helping to undercut at least some of the punitive power of Ponam's lapan; banned lapan exchanges—the last Ponam one was around 1924 and the last nearby was on Andra a year later; and required monogamy, which Ponams took to forbid not only polygamy, but also divorce or remarriage after the death of a spouse.
World War I missed the Admiralties. The incoming Australians recognized the village luluais or headmen appointed by the Germans and permitted resident German missionaries to remain, and as far as Ponams remember they continued the German administrative practices (cf. Rowley 1958, 50). However, the Hernsheim and Company plantations were seized and sold to Australian ex-servicemen. In the mid-1920s a man named McEvoy bought the Komine plantation and several others around Manus (Patrol Report February 1949) (hereinafter, Patrol Report will be designated by "PR"). Like Komine, he seems to have got on well with people but had little contact with them.
By the early 1920s almost the entire region had come under full Australian control. While the Germans had not tried to do much more than pacify the area, the Australians slowly began to build a structure of administration and control: they introduced health programs, regular censuses and patrols, the adjudication of disputes, and so forth. Like the administrative presence in Lorengau, however, these were less important than the other forces colonization had set in motion, forces that were to alter Manus radically, if perhaps not very visibly.
The fundamental change was in the economy, for as a result of
colonization, Manus ceased to be an independent system of interdependent villages tied together by a complex division of production and system of circulation. Instead it became a dependent outlier of the main Papua New Guinea economy and through it the Australian economy, consisting of a relatively structureless agglomeration of villages relying less and less on each other to acquire the means of survival, and more and more on remittances sent back to Manus by migrant workers. The old articulated system of locality, production, kinship, and circulation was replaced as the location of the significant sources of wealth moved out of the region and out of the control of village societies. As a result villages shifted their orientation away from each other and toward the outside world and shifted their economies away from specialist production and exchange and toward remittance and consumption. The most important aspects of colonization leading in this direction were the imposition of colonial peace, labor recruiting, and establishing missions, and we will discuss these aspects in turn.
The imposition of colonial peace meant that force could not be used to preserve the ecological and social division of production, though the disappearance of much local manufacturing by midcentury reduced the significance of this. Moreover, in order to make mission and administrative work easier, groups were encouraged to settle on the coastal strip, which many inland and a few island villages did, anxious to have access to both soil and sea. Colonial peace, then, began to undercut the precolonial division of production that underlay much of the integration of the region. This process did not, however, occur quickly. Aerial photographs of areas of the Manus mainland to the west of Ponam taken in the early 1940s show that villagers there were still gardening and living well inland.
While the ending of local warfare released a large amount of time for other activities, labor migration drained productive men away from the region. Between 1905 and 1913 Manus people signed 2321 labor contracts (King 1978, 120). In 1921–1922, 2224 Manus people were employed, out of a total population of 11,622 (Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia 1922, 54). If we assume that all migrants were active males, then not only were migrants 19 percent of the total population, they were 38 percent of the males (males = one-half of population), and almost 55 percent of
the active males (active males = two-thirds of males), leading to a significant decrease in the ratio of producers to dependents. Particularly on Ponam this led to a shift in the sexual division of labor, facilitated by the increased security resulting from colonial peace, as women began to travel further afield, participate more widely and directly in all forms of exchange, and take on productive activities previously reserved for men. This gave women greater effective control over the distribution of what they produced than had been possible before, when they were more directly under the control of their fathers, patrons, and husbands.
We speculate that the remaining producers had to devote more of their energies to the production of food or goods to be exchanged for food and less on the manufacture and trade of luxury goods. For example, it appears that as World War II approached Ponams decreased their trade with more distant parts of Manus but maintained their staples trade with adjacent mainland people, with whom they exchanged fish for starch and raw materials. Also, they reduced the manufacture of shell money, in part, they said, because women's labor was needed for subsistence production. Likewise, Mead (1963 , 231) indicates that by the late 1920s in southeast Manus the labor devoted to carved beds and bowls was dropping. This helped break up the region's integrated production and exchange system, replacing it with a collection of pairs of villages—starch and fish producers—trading in essential foodstuffs and raw materials with each other, but trading less and less with other villages. (Remember that inland villages moving to the coast under colonial peace were relatively slow to take up fishing for themselves.) Of course, this shift in trade was facilitated by the manufactured goods workers brought back with them, which replaced Manus manufactures.
The third important colonial introduction was missions. As we noted, they opposed lapan exchanges and thus weakened one of the institutions helping to integrate the region economically, while at least for Ponams their attacks on sorcery and magic served to undercut the power of bigmen. More important, however, were the schools they started. Their immediate effect may have been slight, though it seems likely that basic literacy in Pidgin, which Ponams say the MSC school provided, helped people get jobs outside the plantation sector. More important, the schools helped
establish a taste for education and a belief in the benefits of formal schooling. Certainly Ponams and people from other north-central villages began early to go to school at Bundralis.
As should be clear, colonial peace, labor migration, and mission activity all set up conditions for the destruction of an integrated, independent Manus regional economy. The end of warfare, the loss of labor power to paying jobs, the importation of Western manufactures, and the settlement of people on the coast were incompatible with the extensive social and ecological division of production and the extensive system of ceremonial and market exchanges through which villages converted their specialty items into what they needed to live. While the structure of the descent-based system of control over economic resources and productive activities remained intact, ownership meant less, both absolutely and relatively. The decay of local manufacturing and the old ecological divisions meant that ownership of resources, techniques, and trade routes was less rewarding.
The signs of decay were appearing more frequently, but even so, Schwartz is essentially correct in concluding (1963, 87–88) that this system survived the interwar years. Prior to World War II the bulk of Manus people continued to produce and exchange goods with other Manus people in Manus institutions. The coming war caused the final destruction of the Manus regional system, though paradoxically other consequences of the war meant that many Manus people, Ponams among them, did not realize what they had lost until the late 1950s.
Reorientation and Dependence
The Japanese captured Manus peacefully in 1942 and seem to have been liked by people, at least during the early period of occupation. They had relatively little effect on the economy, for they were few and they imported most of their supplies. Ponams said, however, that they seized large numbers of pigs without compensation, so reducing wealth in the region and thus weakening the exchange system. Equally, they regulated the coastal markets, reinforcing traditional exchange rates and at least along the north coast imposing production quotas. This policy inhibited efforts to adjust either supply or exchange rates to bring them into line with the changing
situations of market producers, though it must be said that markets were slow to adjust after the war as well.
The allied American and Australian invasion of Manus occurred in February 1944, and fighting, largely in the eastern and most heavily populated part of the region, generally had ceased by June. After the recapture of Manus the region was flooded with soldiers, bases, ships, and supplies, as Manus was used for the bombardment of Rabaul and for assaults on islands closer to Japan, notably the Philippines. Of the estimated 14,000 Manus in 1944, 5,000 were supported directly by the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit (ANGAU) (Creamer 1948, 11), and it is certain that thousands more received unofficial support. Not only this, but after the war the military left much of its material behind (Schwartz 1962, 230). This led to a shift in trade patterns, as those villages with access to surplus war equipment used it as trade goods, and generally this infusion of wealth masked the rapid deterioration of the Manus productive system. While traditional activities continued, they depended increasingly on wealth acquired outside the traditional economy. Thus, by the early 1950s brideprice payments along the northeast coast included substantial quantities of cash goods and money (£A50 or so) (PR 3-52/53).
Local manufacturing had been fading and the war completed the process. Apparently the last manufacture of consequence was the Ahus pottery, which shut down around 1952 (PR 3-52/53). Quite simply, people saw Western manufactures as better than local equivalents and adopted them. Also, we think Western manufactures were appealing because they could be acquired outside of trade relationships, which, remember, were tense relationships. While cash goods did enter the kawas system, people could get them at stores in their own villages, or have them sent, or paid for, by family members working elsewhere in Papua New Guinea, and thus avoid the inequalities and tensions inherent in gift exchange relationships with more distant kin. This furthered a reorientation away from other Manus people and toward the outside world.
The war had more than just an economic impact. Ponams told many stories of how American soldiers treated them much better than Australians had done before the war. This exposure, plus the fact that many Manus people had occupied positions of power and
authority in wartime, led to dissatisfaction, especially among young men, with the old ways. This was made strikingly apparent in August 1946, when two deputations of Manus men, including the paramount lulai and coming from both eastern and western Manus, approached the commander of the United States naval base at Lorengau and asked that Americans assume control of Manus, as the Australians had done nothing for them.
The Australian officials sent to investigate and to meet with dissatisfied Manus people saw two reasons for the request. One was that there was a growing desire for "political self-determination," which could be countered only with "time and a vigorous programme of native administration designed to give practical effect as quickly as possible to the expressed intention of the Government" (Melrose 1946). The second was a dissatisfaction among returning young men, including those in north-central and northwest Manus villages, with "the high bride price, and the holding of big singsings [ceremonial feasts] at which large quantities of food were eaten and given away." Some village leaders suggested reducing brideprice to a single payment, not to exceed £A10 (Jones 1947). Although it was reported that this limit had been accepted all along the north coast, it was not kept. As we mentioned previously, by the early 1950s large brideprice payments had resumed, if, indeed, they ever really ceased in northern Manus. In the southeast, however, these two sides of the desire to become modern—self-determination and dismantling the old exchange system—took a more durable and spectacular form, the Paliau New Way movement, which we discuss below.
Ponam's history around this time illustrates the disruption and prosperity brought by the war and the fragility of the old Manus economic institutions. At the time of the Allied invasion in February 1944, Ponams fled to the hills of mainland Manus to avoid the fighting, and shortly after their return in early 1944 the United States Navy took over Ponam for an air base (Anonymous 1947) and moved islanders to Andra, the next island eastward. While there they got rations from the military and continued to frequent the base on Ponam, and a number took jobs as ANGAU laborers: in 1944, thirty-two Ponam men were on the ANGAU rolls (PR 2-44/45). After their return home in 1946 they found themselves confronted with a large quantity of surplus military goods: timber, furniture, sheet metal, tools, and utensils.
By August 1944 markets generally had reopened after the fighting (PR 2-44/45), and Ponams say they had barter markets at two coastal sites while they were on Andra. The fragile nature of the economic system is apparent in the fact that around 1946 these markets shut again, because they were unsatisfactory to all concerned, and partly because the colonial administration persuaded people from the coastal villages of Tulu and Lehewua to turn sago stands over to Ponams, though islanders never made much use of them. Also, Ponams traded with Australian and American military personnel at the growing cash market at the military headquarters at Indrim on the northeast Manus coast.
After their return home in 1946 Ponams began to face the problem of life without American and ANGAU support. As their markets were closed, they got most of their starch from trade partners with whom they began to trade cash and cash goods, reflecting both the increased desire for imported goods and the decreasing mainland demand for island fish. This meant that if islanders were to get the starch they needed they had to have a regular source of money. Like many people, Ponams got jobs around Manus, first building, then servicing, and finally tearing down military installations. In late 1952 fourteen Ponams were away from the island working (PR 6-52/53). Like some, but unlike many, Ponams also had access to leftover military supplies, and very quickly these entered the kawas trade.
Around 1951 Ponams formally gave up their mainland sago stands, and their coastal market trade resumed, again barter markets only. The traditional orientation of the market leaders, trying to impose a system of commerce no longer appropriate to the changed demand for fish, meant that these markets were unsatisfactory. However, in other respects this was a time of substantial innovation and reorganization throughout Manus, as people tried to reproduce the Western wealth around them in a number of different ways. These ranged from informal attempts to start businesses, through the cooperative movement, to the most obvious and best reported of these efforts, Paliau's New Way movement (Schwartz 1962), which flourished in the 1940s and 1950s. (Although support faded in the 1960s and 1970s there were signs of a resurgence in the early 1980s [Trompf 1983, 59–60].)
In the New Way Paliau Molowat and his followers attempted to take economic and political control of their own lives by combining
the best traditional and modern ways to produce prosperity in a framework of Manus justice. In their efforts to strengthen Manus society and economy, however, Paliau and his followers advocated policies that would complete the destruction of the ecological and social divisions that underlay the system of village interdependence, including "all the old divisions of rank, clan, ethnic group, and ecological type. . . . The [lagoon dwellers] were to move ashore, the [inlanders] to move to the beach; both were to practice mixed fishing and gardening" (Schwartz 1963, 93). Likewise, Paliau and his followers wanted to eliminate the extensive affinal exchanges that motivated much of the intervillage trade, to eliminate the sexual shame and affinal avoidance that made relations between the sexes and between affines so tense, and to hasten integration with the expanding colonial economy through increasing commodity production.
The cooperative movement was another aspect of the desire to generate wealth. The surge in interest began soon after the war, and in Manus Paliau was advocating cooperatives in 1953 and 1954, consciously anticipating the administration's plan to introduce them shortly thereafter (Schwartz 1962, 335). From 1950 to the mid-1960s, fourteen producers' and consumers' cooperatives were established in Manus, mostly in the areas that followed the New Way (Schwartz 1966–1967, 36). However, they were less successful than either the government or villagers hoped, and failure was common. For instance, of the eleven that were active in 1966, eight were in liquidation or had ceased trading by 1971, at which time an additional twelve, founded after 1966, were still trading (Committee of Inquiry 1972, 305). By 1971 the movement had passed its peak: copra production was 256 tons, compared to a peak of 520 in 1965, and during the same period store sales fell from $A110,000 to $A99,000 annually, while produce sales fell from $A67,000 to $A48,000 (Committee of Inquiry 1972, 63).
Although Ponams, like most of northwest Manus, did not join the Paliau movement, islanders too wanted to produce for themselves the new prosperity. They tried to do this by entering into new economic activities, particularly trade stores. The first Manus trade store license went to a Ponam, and by September 1953 there were five stores in north-central and northwest Manus, four of them on Ponam (PR 2-53/54). We describe Ponam stores in more detail in chapter 4.
Their only other important source of wealth was trochus. Their old plantation was down to 260 trees, and these produced little (PR 8-52/53). Also, Ponams seem to have been unlucky in another source of wealth, war compensation payments. An early 1953 report (PR 6-52/53) says the government recognized as unpaid the war claims of some forty islanders, at a time when almost all claims in Manus had been paid off. This indicates that Ponams got compensation later than most other Manus people, and many claim they never got it. In any event, by early 1951 trochus was £A10 a bag, and the Rabaul buyer Jack Thurston had paid more than £A2000 for Ponam shells (PR 30/6/2 of 1950–51). He was the important buyer of their trochus, and Ponams said that he made only three or four purchases during the boom, which we take to run between about 1950 and 1957, when the price peaked and collapsed.
A number of important events occurred about the time trochus collapsed. The coastal market trade shut down again, and Ponams had their offer to buy the old plantation that Komine established accepted (PR 2-57/58). To help pay for this they withdrew money from their trade stores, which left them with insufficient operating capital. By August 1958 all their stores were bankrupt and the administration ordered them shut (PR 3-58/59). The postwar boom was over, and Ponams, like Manus people generally, were thrown back on their own resources. Their large trade stores, drawing custom and profits from much of the north coast, were closed; their local markets were shut; trochus prices had collapsed; they had spent much of their cash to buy back the plantation, to reclaim their land, even though it contained few trees and produced little copra; their traditional trading partners were fishing for themselves and increasingly were demanding cash and cash goods for sago.
For about the next decade Ponams survived by a postwar version of long-distance trade. They took their fish to where it was expensive (at Indrim until the Lorengau market opened), sold it, and took their money to buy sago where it was cheap (the sago-producing areas west of Ponam). At first the bulk of this sago changed hands within the framework of the system of trade partnerships, albeit for cash and cash goods; by about 1960 this had changed to a free market open to anyone with the money to buy. Their economic activities were contracting, and islanders were concerned more and more with the basics of survival.
Confronted with the failure of internal sources of wealth, many
Manus people looked to paid employment. As we noted, mission education between the wars helped develop a tradition of literacy and numeracy and a desire for Western education, which now began to bear fruit. After the war there was an expansion in education, which was free or of minimal cost, and a shift to English for instruction, and many Manus people took advantage of this in two ways. First, in going to school they increased their ability to get desirable, well-paid jobs, and second, many Manus taught in the expanding school system. By the 1960s, Manus commitment to education was striking. For instance, Ruth Finney (1971, 51) found that for the six provinces she studied, including quite prosperous East New Britain, Manus had the highest enrollment per capita, with 43 students per 100,000 population, at the University of Papua New Guinea and the Administrative College together. The next highest was 28 per 100,000 for East New Britain. Sheldon Weeks's (1976) study of tertiary education in the 1970s shows a similar situation, with Manus students consistently overrepresented at the national high schools, teachers colleges, and two universities. He shows Manus had the highest per capita enrollment in the country in these institutions from 1971 to 1977.
In the 1950s and 1960s migration produced relatively little direct benefit as real wages—especially in the mission primary schools where many Manus worked—were so low that substantial remittances were not possible. However, through the 1960s and 1970s there was a significant increase in real wages at all levels, combined with expanding opportunities for Papua New Guineans at higher occupational levels, so that migrants were in a position to save and remit substantial amounts of money home to their families.
One can see postwar migration as a continuation of prewar trends. But these two waves of migration had different effects. The prewar migration made life more difficult in certain ways, weakening the social and economic underpinnings of Manus life. On the other hand, in the postwar period, and especially after the middle and late 1960s, the money migrants remitted stabilized and even bolstered the region's reoriented, dependent economy, which migration now complemented rather than disrupted.
The postwar period, and especially the period leading up to and following independence in 1975, also saw the development of government spending as a substantial source of income for the region.
The early postwar agitation in Manus led the colonial government to pay more attention to the region, with the consequence that Manus had many schools and health services and a substantial civil service establishment, generating a large amount of wages, much of which benefited the region. The 1970 provincial budget showed the impact of government spending: total revenue for the year was K3.13 million, of which 95 percent was in grants from the national government (Titus 1980, 29), the balance coming from provincial sources. The picture for subsequent budgets was about the same. An estimate for the province as a whole (Lansdell 1981a , fig. 3) gives a total inward flow of K5.5 million in 1980, of which only K0.5 million was in return for goods produced in the province, and showed that the bulk of the inward flow was sent back out again for basic commodities: K4.6 million went out for imported consumable items and a further K0.6 million went for transport equipment and fuel, both of which were used largely for consumption rather than productive purposes.
A survey of five villages in 1980 helps show the extent of this dependence on external sources of wealth (Lansdell 1981b ). Assuming an average of two meals a day per person, the survey showed villagers ate tinned meat or fish in 18 percent of their meals and rice in 14 percent. The overall figure for rural Manus, extrapolated from this survey, was K300,000 spent on these foodstuffs in 1980. On the other hand, K92,000 was spent on local foodstuffs. Thus, almost three-quarters of the rural cash expenditure on food went for imports. This figure would have been higher if all imported foodstuffs were included, and if the urban areas of Lorengau and Lombrum were included. Of course the degree of dependence was not uniform throughout the region: this same survey showed that areas more isolated from Lorengau were less dependent on external sources of wealth than were areas closer to Lorengau.
Through the later postwar period, then, Manus people became more and more dependent on and oriented toward the larger world, as the region ceased to be an integrated, inward-looking socioeconomic unit. As a sign of this, on Ponam during the early 1960s cash and cash goods became important in domestic ceremonial exchange. Whereas the 1940s and 1950s saw the monetization of external coastal trade, by the middle 1960s the thing most directly under the control of Ponams themselves, their own affinal
exchange, had become monetized, and hence relied on involvement with the larger economy.
Basically, this commercialization of the economy and monetization of intravillage exchange remained through the early 1980s. What had changed, strikingly for Ponam, was the amount of money people had to spend. And they had it because since schools reopened after the war, they sent their children to school for as many years as possible and encouraged them to migrate and send money home (see chap. 5). Ponams received enough in remittances that they could afford to exchange cash and cash goods with their trade partners and pay cash for sago in the markets, which reopened for cash and barter transactions in 1977. Almost all the old functional interdependence in Manus was gone, and trade partners traded many imported goods, but at least for a while they did have goods to trade.
Continuity and Change
Although the rules of kinship and exchange appear not to have changed that much since the early colonial period, the economic situation in which these ideologies, structures, and rules existed had changed profoundly, which led to important changes in the social and economic effects of kinship and exchange.
These derive from one fundamental consequence of colonization, the fact that the significant source of wealth for Manus people became located outside the region in the larger national economy, where migrants got their wages, and so moved outside the control of village authority structures. As we have made clear at various points in this chapter, even the agricultural areas of Manus produced relatively little of commercial value; infertile sand cays like Ponam produced nothing.
This shift in the significant sources of wealth led to the disappearance of the economic, and with it the social, power of the bigmen. As local productive resources became less significant, so too did the importance of the bigman's control over them. As almost all the regional division of labor disappeared, so too did the importance of the bigman's control over trade partnerships. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, as local production became less significant, so too did the key to the bigman's power, indebtedness and
the control of local productive labor. (We should note two things: First, improvements in health increased life expectancy greatly, and so removed the demographic motive for extensive adoption. Second, because schooling was free or cheap in the colonial period, bigmen were not able to create clients by financing education.)
Manus people still produced wealth, but through wages earned outside the village, and particularly outside the region. Because most Manus migrants were in administrative or service jobs, rather than in manufacturing, strictly speaking their relationship to the production of wealth was tenuous and complex. For our purposes, however, we treat them as wealth producers by virtue of the fact that they received a wage.
One aspect of the separation of kinship and economics was that it was difficult to arrange marriages between migrants (in fact few tried to do so), so that marriage politics of the overt sort practiced by bigmen disappeared, along with the economic gain arranged marriages made possible. A covert sort of marriage politics remained, though we doubt Ponams thought of it as such. Basically, parents with a daughter who wanted to secure wealth through her marriage had one best strategy: send her to school for as long as possible. If she succeeded she would become a migrant earning a wage, in which case she would send money home. This was also a marriage strategy because as an educated migrant she was in the best possible position to marry an educated migrant Ponam man, in which case she would become the conduit to pass wealth from her husband to her parents. This strategy helped account for the high level of female education among Ponams, and among Manus generally, higher than any other area of Papua New Guinea, and much higher than most other provinces (Weeks 1976).
Paralleling the disappearance of conventional marriage politics, and part of its cause, was the decreasing concern for female virginity and the decreasing need to make brideprice and other affinal exchange payments to legitimate a marriage. Rather, there was an increase in sexual freedom and in relations between the sexes, as well as in the belief that arranged marriages were undesirable, that the couple should marry for love. Likewise, at least on Ponam, the order of affinal exchanges altered. Before World War II brideprice preceded marriage. As part of the social and economic changes of the 1940s, it came to follow marriage rather than being a necessary
precondition for it, and so was no longer the sort of burden it had been earlier. While the vast majority of marriages involved the cycle of betrothal, marriage, and brideprice exchanges, at the time of fieldwork no one challenged the legitimacy of those marriages that did not. Indeed, the irreducible minimum of legitimate marriage became the couple participating in exchanges as husband and wife. What was important, then, was the way they participated in other people's exchanges, not the exchanges centered on them. These various values had gained expression in Paliau's New Way movement. They become understandable against the background of the changes in the Manus economy that altered the relative importance of owned resources, and with it the economics of marriage and the power of bigmen. These changes also help explain the decrease in adoptions, the device that linked bigman and dependent.
Second, the separation of Manus wealth producers from their villages made it harder to appropriate their wealth. The old methods of shame and coercion were no longer applicable, and by 1980 ancestral wrath was seldom linked to failure to pay debts. Instead, more subtle forms of extraction appeared, though we should stress that residents and most migrants described this transfer of wealth as one of willing contribution rather than resented extraction. Under the old system, the rich financier bigmen used exchange to create obligations that allowed them to extract wealth from their poor dependents; however, at the time of fieldwork the relatively poor island residents, who dominated the exchange system, used exchange to create obligations that allowed them to extract wealth from rich migrants (we describe this process in chap. 6).
As this suggests, colonial and postcolonial economic changes affected intergenerational relations. Before these changes, young men were forced to look to their elders if they were to enter adulthood, were to marry. Under the precolonial and early colonial system, brideprice required the accumulation of a significant quantity of valuables—shell money and incised dog's teeth. It was difficult for the young to make or obtain these valuables, and as we have said, many young men could gain access to them only by becoming a client to a financier-lapan . Thus, in some ways early Ponam, and Manus more generally, resembled the domination by elders in what Claude Meillassoux calls the domestic community (1981, 33–49, 78–81). In return for granting access to exchange
valuables, and the wives whose acquisition required them, the mature financier-lapan secured privileged control over labor, natural resources, and trade opportunities. Perversely, this system relied not only on the fact of lineage control of resources, but also on the ability to circumvent that control. In other words, the lapan were able to maintain their dominance because everyone else was obliged to stick to his or her own lineage resources, while the lapan were able to avoid these restrictions, so placing themselves within the kinship system that they had much freer access to sources of wealth, plus of course the client's labor to exploit those resources.
Colonial forces changed this. Especially since World War II, the shift of the brideprice payment until after marriage meant that the young were less constrained by their elders in their attempts to become independent, productive members of the society. This change occurred at the same time that money became an increasingly important element in brideprice payments. Because of the nature of the Manus economy, money was available almost exclusively by wage employment. Not only was this area beyond the control of elders, but they were actually at a disadvantage compared to the young in getting paid jobs. Consequently, the young as a group increasingly became independent of the elders, an independence asserted in the New Way and in other protests which occurred in postwar Manus. Thus, by the time of fieldwork the parents of young men and women, people who were the rebels of the postwar period, often lamented their inability to put pressure on their own maturing children, an inability that many explicitly said came from the fact that young migrants had independent access to money, an access on which their parents depended for the steady flow of remittances. Similarly, by the time of fieldwork most brideprice payments were managed not by the groom's father, but by one of his siblings. Parents still had an important say in these affairs, but their position was no longer dominant. The young had acquired a powerful independent voice.
With the change in Manus production, then, came a great change in social relations. No longer did bigmen dominate marriage and affinal exchange, using them to control productive labor. Although the rules that would allow this domination still existed, no longer was there motive either for ordinary people to seek financier patrons, or for entrepreneurs to seek out dependents.
Instead, marriage reflected the mutual attraction of two people, which was no less real for being influenced by their level of education and place of work. No longer did parties to the marriage and its exchanges face each other as dependents of financiers to whom their financial obligation was overpowering. Instead, the relatives of bride and groom faced each other more directly as wife givers and wife takers, unaffected by the convenient fiction of adoption. No longer were their obligations shaped by their indebtedness to their patrons. Rather, they were shaped by their genealogical and affinal relationships with each other. Kinship, then, became much less of an idiom for expressing and legitimating financial obligation and access to owned resources and became instead an important element in determining the order of marriage and exchange and the economic consequences thereof. As a result of colonization, then, Ponam became dominated by kinship in a way that the precolonial system was not. Even so, however, the system of kinship and exchange remained closely linked to the system of the production of wealth.
Consequently, Ponam at the time of fieldwork looked in many ways like the textbook version of a traditional society: no pronounced social hierarchy and a flourishing system of kinship and affinal exchange. But as we have shown, this traditionalism was itself created and maintained by the island's relations with the encroaching and expanding colonial, and later postcolonial, economy.
Again, however, this egalitarian system was under threat, largely because decolonization meant that Papua New Guineans increasingly were able to control government structures. In Manus, as in a number of other provinces, the late 1970s and 1980s saw the development of provincial governments with increasing budgetary power. As this occurred, provincial politicians and civil servants found themselves with control of substantial amounts of money through their access to discretionary funds, their control over the budgetary process, or through their ability to misappropriate and misuse government funds. (This last option attracted a number of Manus Provincial Government officials, several of whom were arrested and charged for their acts; a former provincial premier was included. Largely as a consequence of this the Manus
Provincial Government was suspended by the national government in 1984, but restored in late 1985.)
The development of provincial government, as well as the establishment of a third, community, tier of government in Manus in 1983, meant that new significant sources of wealth were appearing once again within the province, sources that could be controlled by the enterprising. With this development the potential arose for the reemergence of bigmen, who could convert their control of state resources into social power. Certainly Manus people thought that this was going on, and they were quick to repeat stories of government food, liquor, money, and equipment being used by government officials to develop a following of personal clients.
These tokens of the reappearance of local sources of wealth had implications for the position of women in Manus villages. As we described in chapter 1, women participated equally with men, in their own names, in exchange. At least on Ponam, this arose from two important facts: women were free agents in exchange, or at least as free as men, so that they could manipulate exchange, debt, and credit to suit their own purposes; and women could produce or accumulate their own exchange goods and contribute their own labor, and hence did not have to rely on others to participate in exchange. Migrant women, who were unlikely to work if they were married, were in a less secure position, because they were not able to produce their own wealth or contribute their own labor. However, this was mitigated by two things. First, Ponams said that husbands and wives held personal property jointly, so that a migrant wife had legitimate claims on her husband's wages. Second, husbands specifically were supposed to recognize the problem their migrant wives faced and provide them with enough money that they could participate fully in exchange.
With the reappearance of sources of wealth in Manus in the late 1970s and early 1980s, women faced more profound disadvantages. This was because the world of politics, like the world of work, was largely closed to women. Although Manus did boast one of only a handful of female members of Parliament, provincial government was, like national government, almost exclusively a men's affair. Consequently, women faced the prospect of being cut off from an economic resource of growing importance. Moreover, to the extent
that government wealth was distributed outside the normal exchange system, women would be threatened with the loss of the discretionary authority that exchange allowed them.
Our discussion of the changes in Manus economy and social relations in this chapter brings out the fact that the region is fairly unusual within Papua New Guinea. Unlike most other provinces in the country, Manus was devoid of natural resources of significant commercial worth, and its commercial agricultural potential was poor. And within Manus, Ponam itself was extreme in this regard: the poverty of this sand cay's soil was made almost absolute when the island was converted into an air base during the war.
Ponams in particular, and Manus people in general, were, then, uniquely obliged to live by their wits and their wages, rather than their labor and their produce. This extremity means that we can see with clarity what is often partially obscured in other areas of the country: the effects on social relations of growing involvement with and reliance on the national economy. For Ponams and for Manus people more generally, articulation resulted in a leveling, for the simple reason that sources of wealth were beyond local control.
But sheer involvement with the national economy is not all that set Ponam, and Manus more generally, off from most of Papua New Guinea. Not all forms of involvement are alike, and not all forms of reliance on the national economy are alike. After all, the Tolai people in Vunamami (Salisbury 1970) and on Matupit (Epstein 1969), like the Motu people of Hanuabada (Gregory 1980), were no less involved with and dependent on the national economy than were Ponams.
What was special about Ponam was that the nature of its involvement and reliance put sources of wealth beyond the control of islanders. Education was inexpensive, and so people did not become dependent upon a patron for their schooling. Ponams were well educated, and after the war young people usually did not seek wage work if they were poorly educated, and so people did not become dependent upon a patron for a job. Thus, island migrants were generally beyond the control of island residents, who had to persuade rather than command migrants to remit (we discuss this at greater length in chaps. 5 and 6).
We think that it was this absence of mechanisms through which residents, and hence village power structures, could control the significant source of wealth that caused the leveling of Ponam inequality. Thus, on the one hand, the Ponam case leads us to expect this sort of leveling wherever we find depressed local production and high levels of migration and remittance dependence. We would look for this on islands like Mandok in the Vitiaz Straits (see Pomponio 1983), like Ponam, an island originally heavily dependent on local trade.
On the other hand, where local subsistence resources remain adequate, a long history of high levels of migration can coexist with the continued domination of juniors by their elders, such as is reported among the Kilenge of West New Britain (see Grant & Zelenietz 1980).