Tairora - Sociopolitical Organization



Social Organization. Especially in the north, Tairora extend genealogical metaphors widely, qualifying strict reckoning of descent and kinship as social identities are based more importantly in residence. Also in the north, clans are linked in phratries, forming near-connubia within which warfare is disallowed; in the south, clans may be joined in exogamous, nonwarring pairs. Coresidents of a settlement act as a unit more often than do kin groups in warfare, ceremonies, and intercommunity exchanges. An egalitarian ethos pervades Social life, with an emphasis on individualism, though associations are strong among age mates of either sex.

Political Organization. Traditional leadership was of a big-man or "strong-man" type, with individuals attaining stature through warfare and management of affairs between communities. In recent decades, officials appointed by the Australian administration have been replaced with elected members of the provincial government.

Social Control. Disputes arise most commonly over Sorcery accusations, failures to meet compensation and bride-wealth obligations, marriage arrangements, land, depredations of pigs, and, nowadays, coffee theft. Parties are usually supported by kin and age mates in informal moots. Increasingly, disputes unresolved through informal means are referred to elected officials or formal courts in Kainantu.

Conflict. Physical violence is strongly discouraged within one's clan, but otherwise it is not infrequent, with domestic violence being especially common. Traditionally, warfare was endemic throughout Tairora, and it has seen a resurgence in the 1980s. Each settlement has "traditional enemies" among its immediate neighbors, though enmity/amity relations are subject to alternation over time, with periods of peace effected through formal ceremonies that often include Intermarriage. Competing claims to land are less often the source of intercommunity conflict than are murder and purported sorcery attacks.

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