Gururumba - Sociopolitical Organization



Social and Political Organization. The sovereignty to which the name "Gururumba" applies is a phratry: a group of patricians occupying contiguous territory and having a sense of common origin. In addition they see themselves as a peace group and as allies against enemy clans outside the phratry. Disputes internal to the phratry should be settled by means other than killing, and members should aid one another if attacked by outsiders. The phratry was also an important ritual unit in the past. Within the territory of each Upper Asaro Valley phratry there was a ceremonial structure ( jabirisi ) where renewal rituals were performed at times when there was a consensus among the constituent clans that disastrous times had befallen them. Representatives of all of the clans participated. All phratries of the Upper Asaro Valley developed patterns of amity and enmity that shifted over time and could result in devastating warfare. Alliances among phratries were stabilized and maintained through a complex of Marriages and large-scale food and wealth exchanges. These were organized by "men whose names are known" or big-men who occupied positions of consensual leadership in particular clans primarily because they were known to be adept at alliance-building through manipulating marriages and Material resources such as pigs and shells.

Social Control and Conflict. Aside from personal quarrels, disputes might arise over land, especially plots with high potential for crops such as taro and others important in Exchange activities. Disputes could be extended to involve whole lineages, villages, sibs, or phratries; fighting ( nande ) with hands, sticks, and stones might occur, but these conflicts were expected ultimately to be settled in moots presided over by big-men. Warfare ( rovo), involving spears, axes, and arrows and intended to decimate the opposition, was restricted to enemy phratries and alliances, and it was endemic prior to European influence.

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