Ponam Island, Manus Province
The core of the Admiralty Islands, the main island group in Manus Province, consists of two large islands, Manus and Los Negros. As the map of the Admiralty Islands shows, the main island is Manus, about 50 kilometers long and about 30 kilometers wide, located about 270 kilometers west of New Hanover, in the Bismarck Archipelago, and about the same distance north-northeast of the coast of Madang Province, the nearest part of mainland Papua New Guinea. Los Negros is the smaller of the two, about ten kilometers long, lying at the eastern end of Manus Island, from which it is separated by the narrow Loniu Passage. Manus and Los Negros are surrounded by a number of smaller islands. The high islands of Mbuke, Baluan, Lou, and Rambutyo lie off the southeast coast, the home of the Titan-speaking people Margaret Mead began studying in the 1920s. Extending from the east of Los Negros and running north of it and Manus Island are a string of flat islands, mostly long, narrow sand cays, and where they run along the north coast of Manus they form the outer boundary of the Seeadler Sea, extending about halfway along the north coast. To the west and northwest of Manus are another set of islands: Bipi and Sisi to the west, and to the northwest the islands of Nares Harbour, visited by the Challenger expedition in the 1870s (Moseley 1876–1877). As a whole, the province had a population of 25,844 at the time of the 1980 census (Papua New Guinea 1980).
Ponam itself had a population of about 500, of which about 200 were migrants living elsewhere in the country. It is the western-most of the sand cays that lie along northeast and north-central Manus, and it is about five kilometers off the Manus coast. Like the rest of the sand cays it is small: about 3.5 kilometers long and only about 200 meters wide in the populated area, with a total land area of about 1.4 square kilometers. In many ways land was a less important resource for Ponam Islanders than the sea. Like all coral
islands, Ponam is relatively infertile and Ponams were not, and claimed never to have been, sufficiently interested in gardening to undertake the intensive cultivation techniques necessary to raise crops there. This was particularly true after World War II, when the United States Navy took over the island for an air base and covered much of it with an airstrip of crushed coral concrete. Tree crops, most importantly coconut and casuarina, could grow, but gardening was even more difficult than before, and islanders planted almost no fruits or vegetables.
Ponam's reef is one of the largest in Manus, about eighteen kilometers long and one-half to three kilometers wide, covering a total of about forty-five square kilometers, and fishing was the most important productive activity on the island. Ponams used a variety of modern and traditional fishing techniques and traded their fish for sago flour and other vegetable foodstuffs with people from the nearby villages of mainland Manus. Occasionally islanders sold fish for money at the local or provincial markets, but by and large they bartered instead. Until World War II Ponams survived primarily by this seafood trade, but it decreased in importance since the war and, like other Manus people, they came to rely on cash to buy imported food and manufactures, as well as much local food. Because they had few local sources of income, islanders depended on money sent home to them by migrants working elsewhere in Papua New Guinea, a dependence common throughout Manus.
Ponams used the Western calendar and followed a regular weekly schedule. Friday was sona pene , the day before market, and people who had not already accumulated enough fish usually devoted the day to doing so. Men made a collective fishing expedition on most Fridays. Saturday was pene , market day. On most weeks six to twelve canoes carrying between fifty and a hundred people set off for the mainland at about eight o'clock in the morning, the trip taking as little as thirty minutes sailing with a stiff following wind or more than two hours rowing against it. Usually everyone was home again by early afternoon.
Sunday was a day of rest—Ponams rendered the Commandment in Pidgin: "I tambu long wok Sande"—when islanders did only necessary jobs. Most people attended church in the morning
and spent the rest of the day relaxing, picnicking, or playing sports. Monday was Council Day, when the councillor called people to an early-morning meeting where he reported on Council business, asked for reports from village bodies such as the court or school board, and finally opened the meeting for discussion of any business of public interest, a discussion that often degenerated into acrimony as people aired grievances without resolving them. When the discussion ran out of steam, usually by about eleven o'clock, the councillor assigned tasks. Men generally repaired public buildings such as the school, water tanks, and toilets, while women swept and edged the village streets and the churchyard. Once these jobs were done people's time was their own, to their considerable relief.
There was no regular public business on Tuesday through Friday, and people made their own schedules. Usually islanders rose shortly after dawn, ate breakfast, found tasks to do throughout the day, ate an evening meal at dusk, put the children to bed and then socialized until late, but no one kept to such a schedule all the time. Men fished whenever the fishing was best, which might have been at any time of the day or night, depending upon the weather, the seasons, the moon, and the tide. Women usually fished in the daytime, but had to be awake to clean and smoke the fish men caught, so that their schedule too followed the fishing.
A few activities were dominated by the seasons. The southeast trade winds blew from May to September, bringing good weather and calm seas. The reef rose high out of the water at low tide during this time and women searched the lagoon for sa'ul shells, Imbricaria punctata , which they used to make shell money. This was the most enjoyable season for fishing. Around September the winds began to shift, becoming more variable and the weather more unpredictable, until some time in November the northwest monsoon began. Then the sea was rough and the tides were high, so that the outer edge of the reef just broke the surface during low tide. This was the most difficult season for fishing and enjoying the sea, but it was also the most productive. Unfortunately for migrants, this was the time when they usually had to take their holiday leave. The island would fill up with young people, most of them determined to take their annual leave in the good season
next time. Because so many migrants returned home for Christmas this was also the season for making most important exchanges, for weddings, and for brideprice payments.
Ponam and Manus
Several people have done linguistic research on Manus but there is little agreement among them. According to Healey's review of research in the area (1976, 349), writers agree that the Admiralty Islands languages all are Austronesian, but do not agree on their origin, their number (estimates vary from eighteen to forty), or the way they should be classified. Despite this, it is generally accepted that the Ponam language is unique, though in the same family of languages as those of the neighboring groups. Ponams themselves said that their language was closely related to those of the next islands to the east, Andra, and west, Sori, and the mainland Manus village of Mondropolon. In the most recent survey of Manus languages, Schooling and Schooling came to a similar conclusion. They found that Andra, Mondropolon, and Sori were the most closely related to Ponam, sharing 45 percent, 45 percent, and 38 percent of cognates with it (1980, 31).
Ponams, like other Manus, were multilingual. Most understood all the neighboring languages and several more distant ones, though they might not speak them. Furthermore, all but a few of the most elderly women were fluent Pidgin speakers, and children learned Pidgin only slightly later than their mother tongue. Pidgin was widely used in Manus for private conversations between people of different areas and for public and government business. Even on Ponam itself much public business was conducted in Pidgin. Beginning about 1950, Manus people had English education, and the majority of people who were under forty at the time of fieldwork, as well as a number of older ones, spoke English, but this was heard in villages much less than Pidgin, just as Pidgin was heard less than the vernacular.
The first important ethnographer to work in Manus, Richard Parkinson (1907), divided the people into three culturally and ecologically distinct groups: the Manus, the lagoon- and island-dwelling people of the south and southeast coasts; the Matankor, the
people of the other offshore islands; and the Usiai, the agriculturalists of the mainland. Parkinson appears to have adopted this classification from the Manus, with whom he was most familiar. Margaret Mead also worked with the Manus and also used this classification. Largely as a result of her work, it has become standard.
However, this simple tripartite division is not satisfactory for several reasons. It gives the false impression that there was little difference within or unity among the Manus, Matankor, and Usiai groups. Of the three, in fact, only the Manus had a single language and culture though they lived in several different villages. The others contained groups that were significantly different from one another. Furthermore, this classification was not used by everyone in the Admiralties. By the time of fieldwork "Manus" referred to the province and all of its people, while those from whom the province took its name usually were referred to by the name of the different villages from which they came. Other groups were referred to occasionally as Usiai or Matankor, but more often by other terms. Ponams, for instance, divided Manus into two ecological groups: islanders (mbroso ), whom they referred to jestingly as the navy; and mainlanders (oisiei ), the army. They used these categories to make rough distinctions between groups of people and ways of life, but also they were extremely conscious of political and geographic divisions within and across these groups: villages, language groups, electoral wards, and regions, such as the north and south coasts, as well as less purely spatial divisions, such as government versus governed, Lorengau versus villages, workers versus villagers.
Although Ponams had ties with people in all parts of Manus, they associated particularly closely with the other people of their electorate, Tulu-Ponam, which consisted of the villages of Aran, Lehuwa, Ponam, Saha, Tulu I, and Tulu II, and the Bundralis Catholic Mission station (see the map of north-central Manus). This electorate was established in 1979, and in 1980 had a resident population of 920 (Papua New Guinea 1980). In many ways, Ponam was a self-contained unit within the electorate. It sent its own councillor to the single Manus Local Government Council until that body was replaced by local level government in 1984 (Pokawin 1983). It had its own village court, aid post, church, and two-class primary school.
The people of the electorate, including Ponams, were Catholic, as were most people on the north-central and northwest coast; they were members of the Bundralis Parish, which was served by a priest and several nuns living at the Bundralis Mission station, run by the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart. In addition to the church itself, the station contained a girls vocational school, a health center staffed by two nurses, and a large trade store, all of which brought Tulu-Ponam people, and others, to the station frequently. Also, every Saturday there were markets between Ponams and Mondropolons (the people of Saha and Lehuwa villages) at Bundralis, and between Ponams and Tulus at Tulu II. Thus, Ponams had more frequent and regular contact with other villagers of their electorate than they did with people elsewhere.
Most Ponam residents spent most of their time living within this area. Old people rarely left the island, while women with young children or infirm parents rarely spent a night away from home, limiting their travel to the nearby coast or islands. Men, and women without dependents, traveled more. Particularly, they made more trips to Lorengau, the seat of provincial government and commercial center for the Province, but only islanders who ran charter motorized canoes or who owned, and consequently had to stock, trade stores visited town more than four or five times a year, and many went less often than that.
Ponams had relatives scattered throughout Manus, and they should have visited them and taken gifts, particularly when the relatives sponsored exchanges, but in fact they rarely did so unless the kin relationship was quite close, the relative lived nearby, or the exchange was an important one. Similarly, these relatives rarely visited Ponam except under the same circumstances. Ponams explained this by saying that with the monetization of the Manus economy, their kawas , trade partners, were demanding immediate rather than delayed exchange, and thus they were no longer indebted to one another and hence no longer obliged to repay debts or generate credit by participating in exchange (we return to this point in chapter 4).
Ponams, then, found themselves doubly isolated. Located in Manus, a small province a long way from anywhere, Ponams were cut off from the economic and social currents moving through the New Guinea mainland. And within Manus itself, Ponams were
relatively isolated. Ponam was closer to Lorengau than some other Manus villages, though it must be said that the bulk of the people and economic activity was in eastern Manus, to which Ponam was distinctly peripheral.
This spatial separation was compounded by a general wish to be left alone. So, for example, Ponam was one of the last villages in the province to hold out against elected village councillors and the commitment to the Local Government Council that the adoption entailed, yielding only to severe pressure from the colonial administration. Similarly, one of the councillor's main functions was to shield the island from government attention: visiting school inspectors, cultural officers, and the like often found themselves confronted not with villagers, but with the genial, smiling councillor, who agreed wholeheartedly with their suggestions, listened attentively to their instructions, did just about whatever was necessary to speed visitors on their way so that life could continue as usual.
Thus, while Ponam was by no means as isolated as some parts of Papua New Guinea, it was distinguished from much of the country by being far from urban areas and transport routes. This isolation seems to have satisfied Ponams. It also helped throw into relief the importance of migration, for this was just about the only link Ponams had with the rest of the country.
Ponam Social Organization
Although Ponam was largely self-contained, it was not without internal divisions. The main divisions at the time of fieldwork were based on kinship. Ponam was divided into fourteen named and recognized patrilineal property-owning groups. We will refer to these as kamal (literally, male), as Ponams did themselves. Kamal had genealogies ranging from four to seven generations deep, reckoned from mature adults in 1980. Additionally, kamal were divided into sublineages (there were five of these in the largest kamal ) and sub-sublineages, though unlike kamal these had no generic name. Islanders referred to them individually by the name of the subunit's focal ancestor.
Kamal could be referred to in any of three ways, all in principle equally acceptable, though in practice they were not equally common. These were: the name of the apical ancestor, the name of the
land on which that ancestor built the group's first men's house, and the name of the land on which the men's house stood at the time a Ponam wanted to refer to it. In practice, all kamal regularly were referred to by the name of their apical ancestors and by the name of the land on which their men's houses were first built. However, only some kamal were referred to by the name of the land on which they stood at the time of fieldwork. This was because, as a result of changes brought about by colonization, several named plots of land had more than one kamal built on them.
We have described the relationship between a kamal and the land on which it was built for the same reason that we have refrained from referring to these groups as clans. That reason is the fact that kamal were not just patrilineal descent groups, defined by genealogical rules. Rather, they were necessarily property-owning groups. Real property, land and sea and the rights to certain productive techniques and other resources, could be inherited only agnatically, so that only kamal or their constituent subparts could be property-owning groups. But the agnation itself was not enough to make a patrilineage a kamal . Property was essential. A kamal that owned no property simply was a contradiction in terms, even if the patriline's genealogical structure was exactly like that of a kamal .
Of course kamal did not spring into existence automatically at every conjunction of agnation and property. Rather, the conjunction had to be recognized. The moment of recognition was the sahai , a distribution of cooked food that took place at funeral exchanges and at the completion of a new men's house. In the sahai sets of dishes of food were laid out on the ground, one for each kamal , in a stylized map of the village, and the name of the kamal that was to receive each set of dishes was announced. Recognition consisted of having others attend the sahai of one's own men's house raising and agree to receive the dishes of food announced for them, and of having one's kamal announced as a recipient in a sahai given by others. Indeed, property and recognition may have been more important than agnation. At the time of fieldwork Ponams recognized the existence and property rights of one kamal that had no agnates: no living males or unmarried females (a more extended discussion of sahai is in A. Carrier 1987).
As this suggests, Ponam kamal had a strongly jural air about them, and islanders appeared to conceive of kamal and people's membership in them in jural terms. Kin relations among kamal -
mates were conceived of no differently than relations among cognates, and there was no sense that kamal members shared any special common substance. This distinguishes Ponams from the Highlands New Guinea societies Andrew Strathern has described (1973), in which agnates, by virtue of eating crops grown on clan land, come to absorb a common clan essence, as well as from areas like the Trobriands, where the key descent groups, here matrilineages, are each possessed of a special dala spirit and essence (e.g., Weiner 1977). This nonsubstantial Ponam view of agnation is reflected in islanders' notions of conception. They held that the fetus is formed equally by both parents: women not only are full partners in conception, their contribution is not limited to the flesh or skin as opposed to the bone or some part of the body considered to be relatively more important.
While men maintained their membership in their natal kamal throughout their lives, women gave up that membership when they married and took on membership in their husband's kamal . This too reflects the fact that kamal were tied up with property. Socially a wife found it almost impossible to be a full and active member of her husband's kamal . At the simplest and most obvious level, the rules of affinal avoidance prevented her from going into the men's house most of the time and from participating freely in any gathering of her husband's agnates. However, she was fully a member of her husband's property-owning descent group. She had full rights to use her husband's agnatic group property, and any real property that she might own, either as a gift or through inheritance in the case of the failure of her natal patriline to produce male heirs, passed directly to her descendants. It is important to note our use of "directly." The property did not pass from her to her husband to his descendants. This explains why Ponams had agnatic property-owning groups whose apical ancestors were women, a fairly common occurrence as kamal owning rights to fishing techniques often gave participating rights to out-marrying women (patrilineal property-owning groups are described more fully in the discussion of Ponam fishing in chapter 3).
In addition to kamal and their subparts, Ponam also had ken si (literally, one origin), named cognatic stocks descended from every Ponam who had children. Ken si were most important in ceremonial exchange, a common occurrence on Ponam. Usually exchange goods were collected from and distributed to the cognatic stocks
descended either from the sisters and brothers of ancestral members of ego's ascending patrilineal stem, or from the brothers of women who married into the stem, a process described in more detail in chapter 6.
These stocks were not property-owning groups; whatever real property the stock's apical ancestor may have possessed passed to the patrilineal property-owning group which also descended from him or her and which formed the agnatic core of the stock. We said previously that patrilineal descent could be the basis of kamal status only if property belonged to the descent line. This rule is apparent in the fact that at the time of fieldwork there were propertyless patrilines. These were not recognized in any special way: patriline members were treated simply as members of the cognatic stocks descended from the patriline's apical ancestors. Members of stocks associated with a property-owning agnatic core who were not themselves members of that core were in a privileged position relative to the core group's property, for the core group was obliged by Ponam's cultural values to help look after the welfare of those who were members of its ken si , which in practice meant allowing them access to the group's property.
Ponam marriage rules required marriage outside the kamal and prohibited marriage with anyone with whom one shared a great-great-grandparent, though given the small number of Ponams, this rule could not be adhered to in practice; the working rule was no common great-grandparent. Also Ponams preferred to marry other Ponams: at the time of fieldwork 71.5 percent of the 172 married Ponams made their last marriage to other Ponams. Thus, Ponam conformed to Françoise Heritier's suggestion (1981) that societies with a Crow kinship terminology, which the island had, combine overall societal endogamy with a prohibition on the marriage of near cognates. As one might expect, this system produced an extremely dense set of descent groups and an extremely dense web of kin relations and obligations between living Ponams.
Kamal , and hence Ponams, were divided as well into moieties, though these were not marriage classes. The village had a central street running through it which, when extended mentally to the east and the west ends of the island, divided Ponam into Tolau (North, the northern half of the island) and Kum (South, the southern half of the island). Moiety membership was derived from kamal membership, based usually on the half of the island in which
the kamal 's men's house was first built. Moiety membership was, thus, distinct from physical residence, though in fact almost all people lived on their moiety's half of the island.
Although the distinction between Kum and Tolau, northern and southern halves of the island, was important, moieties were not corporate groups and featured relatively little in relations between Ponams. Normally they were activated only when the island as a whole was acting in relation to some outside body. For instance, the Monday village meetings were seen to be an obligation imposed on Ponam by the colonial, and subsequently the provincial, government, and the community work assignments that ended these meetings often were divided along moiety lines. Similarly, when Ponam contributed to the festivities associated with the opening of a new church in a mainland Manus village, a village that had contributed earlier to similar festivities on Ponam, the contribution was displayed and presented as moiety gifts.
There was one other spatial division of Ponam that was significant, though less than it had been before colonization. That was the division into districts: Tonuf on the eastern part of the island, Lahai in the middle, and Ponam on the western part. Islanders said that originally these were political and to some degree linguistic units: there was desultory raiding carried on between districts, and Tonuf people spoke a different language from Lahai and Ponam. By the time of fieldwork, however, the situation had changed markedly.
The history of these changes is complex. As a result of intra- and interisland warfare around the turn of the century all Lahai kamal were wiped out and Lahai property was dispersed among surviving cognates. Thus, "Lahai" became used primarily to refer to a part of the island, though kinship links through deceased Lahais remained important. That same warfare killed most Tonuf agnates, and the few remaining members of the two surviving Tonuf kamal sought shelter with relatives in Ponam kamal , while maintaining both their identity as Tonuf kamal and, of course, their kamal property. Shortly after the turn of the century Tonuf and Lahai lands were sold to the German trading firm of Hernsheim and Company as a plantation and trochus source. This land subsequently was used by the United States Navy for their air base in World War II, and islanders did not buy back the plantation land until the late 1950s. Thus, it was really only after then that Tonuf kamal members could contemplate using their land. Consequently, members of the two Tonuf kamal lived in Ponam while maintaining their identity as Tonuf groups.
At around the time of fieldwork the leader of one of the Tonuf kamal tried to move his kamal men's house back to its ancestral site in south Tonuf, but there was resistance from other kamal members. As the leader himself was a migrant employed in Port Moresby who was on Ponam only a few weeks each year or two, he did not have much success in bringing about the move. Though they complained about the noise and distractions of village life, almost no Ponams really wanted the isolation, however peaceful, of a house in Tonuf.
The last precolonial division of any consequence was the system of nine totemic matriclans. Each Ponam inherited a set of substance taboos from his or her mother, and while each set included some varieties of fish and other foods, no prohibition was sufficiently extensive to cause any real inconveniences (we describe these in more detail later in this chapter). Matriclans also were responsible for life-crisis rituals and other matters bearing on the substance or being of individual Ponams, rather than on jural aspects of their existence, which were the concern primarily of patrilineal property-holding groups.
These divisions into kinship groups and districts were of primary importance on Ponam, but other, new groups, founded as part of the island's efforts to achieve development, cut across these.
There were two youth clubs: Posus, the young men's club, and Nai, the young women's. Nai was founded in the 1960s in order to bring together married and single women to promote child health, new domestic skills, and modern ways of living. However, it quickly became a club exclusively for single women, who met to sew, do handicrafts, play sports, practice and perform dances for provincial celebrations, and participate with other women's clubs in affairs organized by the central Lorengau Women's Council.
Although we have identified Posus as a part of modern Ponam, it is important to remember that associations of young single men were a common feature of precolonial and colonial life in Manus, while associations of young single women were not. Young single men were not expected or allowed to mature as quickly as women. This marginal status predisposed young men to club together, and until colonization put an end to warfare, they formed the core of raiding parties in early Manus. Colonization made the position of young men even more anomalous, for it brought extensive labor migration. Young single men were the most likely to migrate, which led to them becoming more familiar with highly valued
Europeans and their ways than more mature villagers. This imbalance between their subordinate social status and superior experience of European ways provoked young men to criticize the ways and affairs of their elders. This was most marked in Paliau Molowat's New Way movement, a well-recorded combined millenarian and political movement which was widespread in the late 1940s and 1950s (Schwartz 1962), but it occurred in other places and times in Manus in less spectacular ways.
Posus began as a young men's club, but unlike Nai, a number of its members were mature and married; most important among these at the time of fieldwork was the village councillor, whose membership appeared to be motivated in part by the desire to ingratiate himself with club members. Posus also had as members a number of mature women, usually single women or widows, who as a result of membership could make special claims on the club for help with heavy labor. Posus hired itself out to perform jobs requiring many workers, such as building houses or bringing large logs for canoe hulls from the mainland. Individuals could organize relatives to perform these tasks, but many thought it cheaper and easier to hire Posus than to feed and keep peace with relatives while working. Posus also supported several sports teams and a guitar band, which played on the island and occasionally in competitions elsewhere.
Posus and Nai worked together to organize parties on holidays and sometimes simply to bring villagers together. Their young members hoped that these parties would amuse people of all ages, but they also had a more serious motive. They hoped their parties would be neutral and uncompetitive, unlike many traditional festivities, and so provide the occasion for peacemaking. It did not always work out this way of course, and complaints frequently turned back against the clubs as they were accused of frivolity and, more seriously, insubordination. This last accusation was in some sense true, for young people saw themselves as united against the stubbornness of their elders, who in their eyes neither took advantage of modern opportunities nor lived up to the ideals of tradition.
Of greater significance during the time of fieldwork was the division of the island into two factions, one led by the councillor. This split began in 1972 when Ponams, who still resented the council government system the Australians were imposing throughout
the colony, decided to resist efforts to fix taxes by refusing to pay them altogether. After several increasingly violent attempts, the police arrested a number of the strikers and took them off to Lorengau jail. The strikers then sought help from the Tolai Mataungan Association, prominent at that time for its political activism, and one young man was inspired by their help and their example to found an association modeled on and named after theirs. Despite his hopes that Ponam's Montaungan Association would grow to be a Manus-wide force for political change and economic development, it became simply an island party in opposition to the councillor. Its members were men who felt that he had not supported the strikers, or that he had sold them out to the government, or who had personal reasons to oppose him. The founding of the Association was thus the catalyst for the open division of the island into factions reflecting tensions that had existed for some time.
By the time we began fieldwork, in late 1978, Association members saw themselves as the island's third club, a club for adults, and like the other two clubs, they wanted development, to found a business that would bring income and work to the island. But, and again like the two other clubs, they were unable to devise a likely project and unable to raise the funds to start one. Finally, in 1981 they invested what money they had in Papua New Guinea Development Corporation shares. Perhaps because their development activities never really began, the Association became less and less of a coherent political faction. The councillor still had personal opponents, but they no longer had any positive plans to unite them, and in 1985 the club was wound up and its assets dispersed among its members.
In any case, the councillor always had supporters. In the 1979 election he received 59 out of a total of 114 votes, while between them his opponents, two Association men and one neutral, received the balance of 55. Indeed, the councillor had been reelected regularly since his first election in the early 1960s. In this election he, the leader of Kamal Nilo, the traditional war-leaders, defeated Ngih Kawas, former luluai and member of Kamal Kehin. In defeating Ngih Kawas, the councillor broke the hold that Kamal Kehin had maintained on colonial political office since a Kehin had been appointed the first luluai by the Germans, a hold that continued Kehin's precolonial eminence as the leading Ponam kamal .
Although the councillor had ambitions to found community businesses, just as the clubs did, he was no more successful than they. An example will illustrate this. In the 1970s he organized a government grant to build a small wooden wharf intended to make it easier to load and unload cargo and thus easier to develop the island. But as the Association members were quick to point out, the island had no cargo to export or import and no use for the wharf, which subsequently fell into the lagoon. The councillor was, however, able to get government assistance to provide some community facilities: a permanent aid post building, water tanks, and a teacher's house, though the Board of Management of the school also worked on the last. Although these were not what Ponams saw as development, because they did not provide a permanent source of income, islanders did receive construction wages.
As this indicates, the councillor's influence did not derive from his ability to bring development projects to the island or from his ability to mediate between the island and government bodies, though such mediation was one of his important jobs. Instead, it derived from his intimate knowledge of village affairs, his endless willingness to visit, his undoubted skill as a public speaker, and the fact that he participated more fully in exchanges than most people. His influence also derived from his wealth: as aid post orderly he was the only person on the island with a significant regular income. In spite of this, however, he was in no sense a bigman, a local leader of the sort common in the Highlands region of Papua New Guinea (see Sahlins 1963). He had neither clients nor the patronage to attract and hold them, and while he participated quite frequently in exchange, he was not able to manipulate the exchange system to his benefit; indeed he probably would have found such manipulation as immoral as did other Ponams (the operation of exchange is described in chapter 6).
Thus, both the village government and the organizations founded by Ponams themselves had development as their explicit aim, but none had achieved this. The few fervent Association members blamed the councillor for this, while his few fervent supporters blamed the Association; but most people blamed the split itself, arguing that quarreling made it impossible to agree on and carry out any project successfully.
The latest development project at the time of fieldwork illustrates both the political and economic problems Ponams faced:
In 1977 the government encouraged Ponam, along with several other Manus villages, to buy large diesel-powered freezers in order to sell frozen fish in Lorengau. It gave a K3000 grant and made available a K1000 loan, signed by the presidents of the Posus and Nai clubs. There were problems almost as soon as the freezer arrived on the island. Neither Ponam's reef nor islanders' fishing techniques were very productive, and fishing to fill the freezer required people give up fish that they would normally have eaten or taken to market.
The use of the freezer was a constant source of tension revolving around who actually owned it, how it should be managed, and how the proceeds should be divided, though this last question remained moot for as long as it took for islanders to sell enough fish to pay off the debt. In 1978 the freezer broke down and Ponams had to bring a repairman to the island to refill it with refrigerant gas each time they wanted to use it. Finally, low productivity and the low price of fish meant an unattractively low return, varying between K0.22 and K0.58 per man-hour after costs were deducted and money set aside for repair and eventual replacement of the freezer. Individual fishermen usually received less than this, between K2 and K3 for more than thirty hours of work, with the balance going to those involved in other ways. Once the principal on the debt was repaid, in late 1979, the freezer sat idle: no longer motivated by the need to pay off the debt, islanders were unable to contain the tension and animosity that accompanied the operation of the freezer.
In 1980 a Posus member secretly and illegitimately withdrew money from the freezer bank account to repay the interest on the loan, in order, he said, to protect Ponam's good name. In 1982, however, Posus tried to restart the freezer, arguing that if the village as a whole did not want to run the business then Posus would. This revived old arguments: about the ownership of the freezer (the clubs had signed the loan agreement, but Ponams had worked together to pay off the debt); about the unpaid repair bills; and most seriously about the insubordination of Posus, which not only had been instrumental in bringing the freezer to the island in the first place without securing the agreement of their elders, but also proposed to run the freezer as a Posus venture rather than as a common Ponam venture. While these issues were being debated in a public meeting someone slashed the freezer's gas pipe. In short, this development project was not a success.
In addition to the clubs and the island government there were two modern institutions of some importance, the church and the school. The church was not active politically or evangelically, but Catholicism was important to people, particularly in providing an explanation for illness and misfortune (see A. Carrier 1987). The church officials were the catechist, who led the Sunday services, and the church leader, the lay official who ran the practical side of church affairs and also mediated a number of personal quarrels. There was also a committee that managed church funds.
There were two school bodies, the Board of Management, which was in charge of nonacademic school business, and the Parents and Citizens Association, which mediated between parents and the school and raised funds. In 1978 and 1979 both bodies were dominated by Mataungan Association members, and the village councillor, an ex officio member of the Board of Management, went to no meetings. Consequently it was not easy for the board to persuade the councillor to assign people to school maintenance as part of the regular Monday community work assignments. The school buildings suffered: one teacher threatened to stop paying rent for a house that was in bad repair, and a few times during stormy weather school was canceled because the main school building was too frail to protect children from the wind and rain, a frailty board members blamed on the councillor. In 1980 the Association president resigned as head of the Board of Management and the school became more nonpolitical. Perhaps as a result of this, the village was able to raise most of the K20,000 it cost them to build a new community school in 1986.
As islanders, Ponams occupied both land and sea. While land ownership was important for building houses and securing coconuts, which were an important part of the diet, land is not as significant for understanding Ponam economics as is the sea. Thus, here we will present only a brief description of land tenure. Marine tenure was more complex than land tenure and differed from it in important ways. For these reasons we will treat marine tenure at greater length in chapter 3, which is devoted to Ponam fishing.
Land on Ponam was individually owned, not held in trust by clans or lineages and allocated to individuals by elders, as can occur in other parts of Papua New Guinea. On Ponam there were two sorts of rights in land: usufruct rights and residual rights.
An individual could have usufruct rights in land without owning the land absolutely, and those usufruct rights themselves were absolute. That is, the Ponam who owned usufruct rights in a piece of land had the jural right to plant, harvest, or build on the land, or, indeed, do anything else with it without consulting anyone. These usufruct rights were inherited patrilineally, a man or
woman's sons having an absolute legal claim on a share of the parent's property, a claim that the parent could not void. Daughters lost all legal claim to the inheritance of their parents' property once they were married, but they could be given land by their parents or others, which they would then pass on patrilineally to their own children.
Any landowner had the right to give usufruct rights in land to anyone. The most common land grants were to daughters in cases where the parents had no male heirs, but land grants also could be made to other relatives, inside or outside the kamal , as payments for services rendered or as simple gestures of friendship. Land grants to distant kin or nonkin were unlikely except as compensation (anof ) for injury or loss of some sort, and these were of a different legal status than ordinary land grants.
The same rules of inheritance governed both land that had been inherited and land that had been received as a gift: married daughters received no land as of right. Should a man or woman who owned land die without children and without having made a specific determination of where the land should go, it would pass to the nearest male patrilineal relatives. In order of priority these were the owner's B, FBS, FFBSS, and so on. If there were no male patrilineal relatives, land could be inherited by a woman or her male heirs, such as the deceased owner's D, DS, Z, ZS, FZS, FFZSS, and so forth, though the likelihood of this was much greater if the daughter or the sister, or her descendants, lived on the land and made active efforts to secure the claim.
The individual who owned usufruct rights in land also owned residual rights, which were inherited in exactly the same way as usufruct rights. Residual rights were the rights of an owner and his or her heirs to reclaim any land that had been given as a gift, except where that gift was anof , compensation. (Land given as compensation was completely alienated from the giver and could be reacquired only if it were purchased or given back as compensation for some loss.) Thus, any Ponam who owned usufruct rights could give those rights to another, but the giver and his or her heirs maintained forever, at least in theory, the right to reclaim for any reason any land and any improvements made on it, without compensation, and this right to reclaim could not be given away.
Because anyone who received a grant of land had the right to
regrant that land to another and the right to reclaim that land at any time, many plots of land on Ponam had three or even four residual owners, and very few people lived on land that they themselves owned ab initio , without having received it from anyone else. This is illustrated by table 1, which summarizes the answers Ponams gave to our question: Who owns the site on which your house is built?
Part of the reason for the complexity of the ownership of household sites is historical. As we described already, in the nineteenth century Lahai agnates were eliminated and Tonuf agnates fled to the Ponam section of the island. Furthermore, as a part of colonial administration, islanders were encouraged to set aside a part of their land to use as a cemetery, ending their older practice of burying the dead under the house. Both of these events removed land from house-site use and obliged people to seek land other than their own patrilineal inheritance as house sites. Consequently, at the time of fieldwork the village of Ponam was built almost wholly on land claimed by one kamal , Lopaalek. Almost no islanders claimed, however, to have received their household land direct from this kamal , getting it instead from an intermediate owner. In other words, almost all household sites had been transferred more than once since the turn of the century.
The system we have described is almost certain to produce disputes over land, and such disputes were common at the time of fieldwork. It should be noted that these disputes often passed through an indirect or euphemistic phase before they came to official, public notice as disputes about land. Usually, first the disputants would simply quarrel, gossip, or try in other ways to mobilize public opinion to force their opponents to back down. Few disputes went beyond this stage, and usually at this stage the dispute was not overtly about land in any case. Rather, it was about theft, often of coconuts, a covert way of disputing who owned the tree from which the coconuts came, and thus the land on which the tree grew. Only if gossip and informal action did not work would a claimant take a case to the village court. Again, however, these cases seldom were overtly about land, partly because the village court on Ponam was not empowered to hear cases about land, which had to be referred to the land mediator and the Land Courts. Instead, cases of theft were quite common in the village
court, and usually they were ways of disputing land ownership without formally doing so.
Land disputes were common enough, in fact, that Ponams, who often viewed such disputes with amusement and detachment as long as they were not directly involved, recognized other, nonjural factors affecting the outcome of disputes about land. These modified the formal rules of land tenure, and particularly inheritance, that we described above. We summarize the informal factors thus:
1. Sons, who have an inalienable right to a share of their father's land, may be disinherited by a strong B, FB, or FBS.
2. A usufruct owner may be prevented from making a land grant or pressured into making a land grant by others who are stronger than he or she.
3. When a land owner dies without heirs his or her land may not go to the nearest patrilineal relative, but to the strongest near relative.
4. A strong patriline may claim residual rights over land that is not its own, and thus take land away from others or prevent its repossession.
5. The more distant one's connection with the usufruct holder, the more strength is required to claim a rightful inheritance or to repossess granted land.
It is important, however, not to draw the wrong lesson from these informal factors. Ponams did not think that these were the real rules, that the formal rules were only for show. Rather, as in many areas of their life, islanders saw both as equally real. The formal set were the rules of proper behavior: people were expected to abide by them and were criticized, often harshly, for any failure to do so. On the other hand, acknowledgment of the informal factors sprang from the recognition that people are guided both by rules and by self-interest and that personal power and predilection, as much as jural rules, affect behavior in particular cases.
Generally speaking, at the time of fieldwork land could not be inherited, given away, or repossessed without a dispute of some kind, and in any dispute the strong had the long-term advantage over the weak. Three kinds of strength were important in Ponam land disputes.
The first and most legitimate was the strength of knowledge. A patrilineal group that could produce reputable elders who were good speakers and who had a facile and detailed knowledge of patriline and land history would defeat a patriline that could not. Patrilines that could not produce this sort of knowledge were reluctant to take cases to the level of formal dispute, most formally a hearing before a land mediator, and so were obliged to forego their claim.
The second important strength was the strength of numbers and persistence. Because no dispute settlement or court ruling was regarded as really final, the losing party was free to reopen the dispute any time it chose to do so. Thus, a patriline that was sufficiently wealthy and persistent, and hence probably more numerous, was able to keep up a steady stream of disputes which would ultimately wear down the weaker, opposing party.
The third important strength was illegitimate strength, the power to intimidate the opposition into surrender. Such power varied from the semilegitimate and overt (such as ostracism, which could be very effective when used by a large group against a small one) to the highly illegitimate and covert (especially sorcery). Ponams no longer used physical violence against each other in disputes over land, but used force against other villages after World War II to protect their claims to areas of the reef and sea.
Although sorcery was a covert weapon that could, in theory, be used in land disputes, and even though in the precolonial period Ponams used sorcery against each other frequently and had a widespread reputation as sorcerers, in the postwar period, islanders said, they did not use sorcery against each other, until a land dispute that arose in the early 1980s. Although Ponam was a relatively small village, there was little real pressure on land until around 1980. This was because high migration rates and relatively low population growth rates in the cohort of marriageable adults meant that the total number of resident households, and hence the total need for land within the village, grew fairly slowly and was met fairly easily by building in the unused areas within the village.
However, around 1980 a number of things happened. Postwar improvements in health care, which decreased infant mortality sharply, meant that the cohort just entering marriageable age, those in their 20s in 1980, was much larger than any previous group: 106 men and women born in 1950–1959 were alive in 1980,
compared to 55 born 1940–1949. Further, stagnation in the national economy meant that a significant proportion of this group did not migrate to jobs elsewhere: 100 percent of the men and 69 percent of the women born in the 1940s had ever migrated, compared to 83 percent and 59 percent of those born in the 1950s; 82 percent of the men and 54 percent of the women born in the 1940s were still migrant in 1980, compared to only 69 percent and 43 percent for those born in the 1950s. In the late 1970s members of this group began to marry and establish their own households, producing a growing pressure on land at a time when much of the vacant land in the village, the land most desirable for housing, had already been put into use. For instance, between 1979 and 1983 the number of resident households rose from seventy to seventy-five, a rate of about 15 percent per decade.
This situation, though difficult, might have been contained through the gradual expansion of village boundaries, though this expansion would have had to be eastward, as land to the west, and especially the northwest, of the village was a belt of scrub separating the village from the cemetery, most unsuitable for habitation.
In the event trouble arose. The precipitating factor was the decision by a resident of a nearby village to go to Ponam and take up his rights as the last agnate of a kamal that had been defunct and not recognized in sahai for many years. To make matters worse, this kamal 's land had been taken over by another, concentrated on the northwestern edge of the village hard against the belt of scrub that isolated the cemetery, a kamal that itself had been ridden with conflict. The combination was too much: the last agnate, an opponent from the Ponam kamal that had taken over the land in question, and a mainland Manus sorcerer all died, and many islanders were convinced that Ponams had called upon outside specialists to make lethal sorcery against each other. (The outside specialist was necessary because no Ponam was a sorcerer.)
Although disputes between Ponams over land were common, disputes over the sea were less so and treated with less urgency, though marine disputes between Ponam and neighboring villages were endemic and taken most seriously. To anticipate several of the points in chapter 3, internal sea disputes were fairly mild and rare because ownership of reef and sea did not preclude nonowners from fishing in the way that ownership of land precluded nonowners from building or planting, and probably also because fishing illegally in someone else's area was much harder to detect than har-
vesting, and especially planting and building, on someone else's land. Nevertheless, marine disputes between villages were analogous to land disputes among Ponams. Reef and sea that belonged to one village effectively were closed to people from other villages, which helps explain the frequency and vehemence of intervillage fishing disputes.
Division of Labor and Relations Between the Sexes
Men had two productive responsibilities, fishing and building. They fished individually with hook and line or spear gun and collectively with spear gun or nets. They also made and repaired much of their own fishing equipment. Ideally, men should have provided enough fish to feed their families as well as accumulating a surplus for market, but some left much of the work to their wives. Since women did not make canoes or do heavy construction, men could not ignore these jobs. Ponams said that a man was not an adult and should not marry until he had built a house and made a canoe and a sail, for a household could not survive without these things. A man's family helped him to build his first house during his engagement (only when a woman came to her husband hastily or without ceremony did a married couple begin life without a house of their own). After his marriage the man maintained the house himself. Married couples also needed at least one canoe and should have had two: a large one for sailing to market and a small one for punting inside the reef. A responsible man with a large family could be expected to have many more than this.
Canoes lasted between three and ten years, depending on the type of wood used, and they needed constant repairs; houses needed complete rebuilding every ten or fifteen years and they too needed frequent repair; when a man's family was expanding he needed as well additional buildings to house them. Thus, men were involved continuously in some sort of building project. In addition to these family responsibilities, men were responsible for the maintenance of their own kamal 's men's house. They cleaned it, swept the ground around it, cut firewood to be burnt there, and cooked the fish eaten there, tasks that were done by women for the dwelling houses.
Couples shared the responsibility for tending their land, for planting coconuts and clearing the underbrush. They also shared responsibility for marketing, though in fact women tended to predominate in marketing. Both men and women attended market, taking goods to sell and trade and taking their own money with which to buy food for the family.
Women had a wide range of responsibilities and claimed to work harder than men. They fished with spear gun and occasionally with hook and line and gleaned the reef for shellfish and other creatures. They cut firewood, gathered coconuts, looked after children, cooked, did laundry, sewed, and cleaned; and because most had high standards, large houses, and many children, these tasks were exacting. Also, they made valuable items of traditional dress (woven bags, skirts, armlets, beadwork, and shell money) given in exchange as well as a number of more mundane items.
Overt sanctions supported this division of labor in only a few areas: women could not make canoes, sails, or men's fishing nets, for such objects, if made by them, would not work well; women were not supposed to participate in men's collective net fishing, or the expedition was likely to be unsuccessful, but sometimes they went as canoe handlers if there were not enough men.
Other jobs were assigned by tradition to the different sexes, but only gossip and shame sanctioned the arrangements. Women were supposed to keep house and men to fish and build, and they were criticized if they did not. However, maintaining the household was more important than maintaining the sexual division of labor, and thus when it was necessary, each sex could do the other's jobs without criticism and indeed could be criticized for not doing so.
The building and repair of houses and canoes were burdensome tasks. While they may not have absolutely required the cooperative effort of people outside the immediate family, certainly the heavy work was made much lighter when it was undertaken by groups of men, and in fact any construction or repair of consequence was a cooperative venture. Thus, because these were men's jobs, men were obliged to cooperate with each other. And this involved men in the informal generation of social debt and credit as they cooperated with other men and called on other men to cooperate with them. Men, in other words, were bound to each other as men through their constant need to cooperate with each other. This
male solidarity was enhanced by the fact that collective fishing, which we describe in chapter 3, was almost entirely a male preserve. And, of course, it was enhanced by the male orientation and ideology of the kamal , the most visible and persistent element of Ponam social order.
Women's situation was very different. The nature of the tasks they undertook was not cooperative, and often the tasks were restricted to women's main area of responsibility, the household. While women often did work together in groups, these groups were primarily for companionship, each woman pursuing and responsible for her own task, albeit in the congenial company of others. Similarly, women's fishing was restricted almost entirely to spear fishing and reef gleaning, usually carried out alone or in mother-daughter pairs. And although married women were full jural members of their husbands' kamal , the rules of affinal avoidance meant that the kamal building itself effectively was closed to them. Finally, although totemic, matriarchal matrilineages were important for every individual's health and well-being, these groups were less structured than kamal and lacked the permanence and visibility of the men's house.
Women were not, however, without ways of maintaining their solidarity as women. Perhaps the most important of these was through the system of formal exchange. While the kind relationships that were celebrated in exchange predominantly linked husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, the organization and especially the operation of exchange was largely in the hands of women: preparing the gifts, gathering them together, deciding on their arrangement and distribution, all these were largely the province of women except in the most formal, and hence least common, of exchanges. Because of the frequency and importance of exchange, women regularly worked together in significant communal activities.
Although men asserted that women should be subordinate to them and although women did not take a public role in political life, they had the same legal rights as men, and men openly acknowledged as well that they had a substantial background influence. Women owned and disposed of property in their own names, earned money and spent it at their own discretion, and gave and received in exchange as men did. The place of women in marriage
highlighted their effective power. A married couple formed an independent economic unit in which each partner acted on the other's behalf in his or her absence. Thus, for example, when a man was absent or incapacitated it was his wife who managed his property and gave to and received from others on his behalf in exchange, not the man's brothers.
The influence of women was clearest in exchange, as we have already mentioned, an extremely important aspect of village life. Although corporate property-owning groups in Ponam were patrilineal, the groups that dominated exchange were the cognatic stocks, the ken si , in which women participated fully, equally, and in their own names and with their own resources. In fact, women usually dominated these exchanges. If a woman was a focal party to an exchange or distribution she organized things herself, though always in consultation with knowledgeable members of her group, themselves usually women.
The only exchange activity closed to women was the public announcement of the distribution of exchange goods, the job of a sohou , a public speaker, though this restriction was absolute only at the main accumulation, prestation, and distribution at exchanges. Lesser accumulations and distributions could be announced by women, as these were much less formal. The sohou , however, had no power of his own, unless the exchange leader was a man who elected to be his own sohou , which happened often enough. When this was not the case, there would be someone, usually a woman, telling the sohou what to say and chiding him when he made a mistake, even in the largest and most formal affinal exchanges.
Even in prestations where a man was the focal party, women were most important, though their position was only advisory. Ponams, both men and women, said that this importance derived from the fact that women spent much more of their time around their households than did men, and so were more likely to observe and participate in the small givings and gettings that renewed the web of kin relationships tying islanders to each other and that influenced how people participated in most formal exchanges. Equally, Ponams said that in many cases the person most knowledgeable about a kamal 's or a ken si 's genealogy was an older woman, and genealogical knowledge was indispensable in formal exchange.
In addition to this informal influence, women had more secure bases of authority. One of them was their role as asi to ego. "Asi " referred to what is most easily, albeit imperfectly, thought of as classificatory FZ and their daughters. More specifically, it referred to ego's FZ, FZD, FZDD, and so forth, FFBD, FFBDD, and so forth, FFFBSD, FFFBSDD, and so forth, FM, FMZD, FMZDD, and so forth, and others (as this may indicate, and as we mentioned in passing already, Ponam used a Crow kinship terminology). In fact, with the exception of ego's FM, an asi was any person who was called "sister" (naropisok ) by anyone ego called "father" (tama ). Asi had the important power to bless, and somewhat more narrowly to curse, the people who called them asi . This power they shared with their male counterparts, tama. Asi had a protective role, overseeing, albeit in no very formal or rigorous way, their narohamerok (if male) and natuek (if female), those who called them asi . In return, these people were obliged to respect their asi and accede to their requests, both to secure the asi 's blessing and to avoid the curse; asi could curse to make one sterile, promiscuous, or grossly irresponsible, or bless to make one "strong": brave, powerful, clear-headed.
Asi and tama had another important role, but here it was the females who were most in evidence. On the completion of a kamal 's new men's house there was a feast, nominally for those who helped with the construction though in fact for everyone. At this feast, the asi of the members of the kamal put on traditional dress and danced around the men's house, an activity that strengthened their narohamerok in the kamal and the enterprise of which they were a part, the kamal as a whole. While it was most unlikely that all of a kamal 's asi would refuse to dance, individual asi could decline, and a thin and dispirited turnout would be a source of shame to the kamal and a cause of acrimony for months and even years to come.
The other notable source of women's power was the totemic clans, which were matriarchal as well as matrilineal, and particularly the cleansing of the pollution caused by eating a totem, most commonly a totemic fish, handling it, breathing the steam from the pot in which it was cooking or the smoke from the fire over which it was being cured, or eating from a dish or with utensils that had recently been in contact with it. Although the consequences of pollution were mild at first, if untreated it could cause
degeneration—blindness, deafness, baldness, or loss of teeth, depending upon the way the pollution occurred—and ultimately death by premature old age. Cleansing consisted of locating a senior female of the matriclan, preferably the senior female of one's own matrilineage, and having her pray to the ancestral spirits of the matriclan to undo the damage.
The powers of asi and women in the matriclans provided women with real authority, but in a sense these were just embellishments of the fundamental place of women in Ponam society at the time of fieldwork. In terms of kamal women were marginal. They were unstable creatures: born into a kamal , they were likely to marry and hence move out. But on marriage they joined a kamal alien to them, most of whose members, moreover, were forbidden to them by the rules of affinal avoidance. In this sense, then, Ponam women resembled women in many societies in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (e.g., Josephides 1985; M. Strathern 1972), never fully a member of the kamal in which they were born or of the kamal in which they died; though because Ponam was endogamous, women did not suffer because of isolation from their kin, as many Highlands women did.
However, as we have been at pains to point out, kamal were not clans in the sense that the term commonly is applied to kinship or quasi-kinship groups in Papua New Guinea. That is, while kamal were property-owning agnatic groups, they were not the only significant kinship groups in the society, as clans appear to have been the only significant kinship groups in many Highlands societies. Thus, women's marginal position in kamal did not mean they were marginal to the only important groups in Ponam life. Aside from the totemic matriclans, which women dominated, they also were fully equal members of enduring, named cognatic stocks, the ken si that were the significant groups in ceremonial exchange at the time of fieldwork and that seem to have been so as well in early Manus, but that seem absent from much of the Highlands.
We suggest that it is useful to think of Ponam as a society that at the time of fieldwork had a system not of dual descent, but of trial descent. The three elements were the kamal , in which men dominated, the totemic clans, in which women dominated, and the ken si , in which the two were equal. Women's overall position in the society, then, would depend on the state of play of these
three groups and the social and material resources and processes with which they were associated. If pollution and personal substance became less important, the totemic groups would lose some of their significance and women would, presumably, suffer. If property gained in importance relative to exchange, then kamal would overshadow ken si and men would gain.
If, on the other hand, property declined in importance relative to exchange, if, that is, the economic significance of the property that kamal owned declined relative to the economic significance of wealth circulating in and acquired through exchange, then the relations of gender equality in the ken si would be more important than the male orientation of the kamal . This is what happened on Ponam Island.