Abor - Sociopolitical Organization

Social Organization. The primary allegiance of an individual is to his or her family. The cohesion of larger groups within the society, such as subclans, clans, and moieties, can also be occasioned by disputes and conflicts that threaten one or more of the constituent members of these larger groups. Among the Abor's primary institutions must be included jhum agriculture, the nuclear family, the moshup, and the rasheng. The anticipated secondary institutions (i.e., core religious beliefs, ritual cults, and folklore corpus) also obtain among the Abor. Traditionally, social status was achieved through the accumulation of wealth. Today, education and occupation are also viewed as signs of status.

Political Organization. Each village is an autonomous unit whose affairs are administered by a council ( kebang ). Council membership consists of clan representatives and individual village members. Every aspect of village life is governed by the kebang. This includes the mediation of local disputes. Groups of villages are organized into bangos, which are governed by a bango council. Disputes between bangos are mediated by a bogum bokang (a temporary interbango council made up of bango elders from the same group).

Social Control. Sources of conflict within Abor society include marital and familial disputes, divorce, theft, assault, and inheritance disputes. The resolution of conflict and the regulation of behavior within the society are the responsibility of the village kebang, the bango council, and the bogum bokang. Order is maintained through a system of customary law that deals with matrimonial and familial affairs, property rights, personal injury, and inheritance. Provision is made for the use of ordeals when the mediation of disputes by humans proves unsuccessful.

Conflict. Disputes between the Abor and neighboring peoples are no longer resolved by means of armed conflict. Internal (i.e., within the various Abor groups) and external (i.e., with neighboring peoples) warfare were effectively eliminated after the initiation of British rule. Conflict between villages is handled by the bango council and the resolution of interbango conflict is the responsibility of the bogum bokang.

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