Mundugumor - Sociopolitical Organization

Social and Political Organization. The basic social Organization was provided by networks of related kin more than the patrilineal clans; interpersonal alliances shifted frequently. Leadership was achieved by individuals who were fierce in warfare and raiding, aggressive, and capable of attracting adherents through the manipulation of exchanges. These strong leaders earned many wives (who produced tobacco and other produce for them) and had the support of their affines as well as less-dominant kin of their own and meeker men seeking shelter. Contemporary Mundugumor participate in the parliamentary democracy that is the independent nation of Papua New Guinea. They elect representatives to a variety of local and national legislative bodies. Although war leaders have vanished, individuals who excel in various new endeavors, such as education or business, have significant influence.

Social Control. A variety of sanctions operated. Physical coercion was not uncommon, but at least as important were crosscutting kinship ties and obligations that generated conflicting loyalties. A strong egalitarian ideology also tended to prevent the construction of permanent alliances, and strong men could not violate rules and norms excessively or their followers would defect to their rivals.

Conflict. Conflict was common. Intracommunity disputes arose over a variety of concerns, most frequently the arrangement of brother-sister exchange marriages or adultery. Mundugumor villages fought one another over a variety of issues including the maintenance of reputation and honor. Warfare and raiding were also prevalent before colonialism; raids were staged on enemy villages in order to kill as many of the enemy as possible. Alliances with other groups were precarious and shifted frequently.

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