Rotinese - Sociopolitical Organization



Political Organization. Traditionally each domain was ruled by a "male" lord ( manek ), a complementary and executant "female" lord ( fettor ), and a number of court lords chosen, ideally, from each of the clans of the domain. In every domain, one court lord was Head of the Earth ( dae langak ). He was the acknowledged upholder of customary law and had the right, in certain instances, to abrogate the lord's decision. His clan claims settlement priority and ritual rights over the land. Nobility is associated with the clans of the "male" and "female" lords; all others in a domain are commoners. The wealthy are frequently described as forming a separate class, but it is theoretically and, in fact, practically impossible for a wealthy commoner to become a noble. A former slave class has been absorbed within the other social categories. When the domain system was abolished in the 1970s, many of the functions of the domain, particularly rights to settle local disputes, devolved on the village headman. Much of Roti's traditional clan structure has been preserved under modern guises.


Social Control and Conflict. Means of settling disputes existed within the lineage and the clan and at the lord's court. There existed no traditional means of settling disputes between domains, and in the past such disputes led to warfare. Since approximately 1850, domain warfare has given way to a pattern of lesser feuding and some raiding across borders that persists to this day. Headhunting may have been ritually associated with agricultural fertility but, as an institution, it appears to have been eliminated or transformed, perhaps as early as the eighteenth century.

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