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Ancestral Lines

Ancestral Lines: The Maisin of Papua New Guinea and the Fate of the Rainforest

Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 2
Pages: 245
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  • Book Info
    Ancestral Lines
    Book Description:

    InAncestral Lines, which is based on 25 years of research among the Maisin people, Barker offers a nuanced understanding of how the Maisin came to reject commercial logging on their traditional lands.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-0323-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. 1-4)
  5. CHAPTER ONE Fieldwork among the Maisin
    (pp. 5-38)

    August 14, 1982. We expected a small farewell party. We had been living in Uiaku for almost nine months and had reached the dreaded moment when my wife Anne’s leave from her university job ended, requiring her return to Canada. Anne would return to the village for three months at the end of the school year, but that was a long eight months away. Romney Gegeyo, the village councillor, had told us that the people were organizing a goodbye dinner. We had been to many community gatherings and had a pretty good idea of what to expect. Late in the...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Making a Living
    (pp. 39-70)

    In October 1986 I came to Uiaku to spend two months studying tapa cloth and women’s facial tattooing. I immediately sought out Mildred Gayave. Mildred had been a great friend of Anne and mine; she was flamboyant, with a wickedly funny sense of humour. Like most adult Maisin, she had no idea of her birth date, but I estimated her to be in her early to mid-40s as her first child was then a young adult. Mildred was a superb tapa maker who had developed a unique style, producing large thick cloths decorated with detailed geometric designs that rather reminded...

  7. CHAPTER THREE The Social Design
    (pp. 71-110)

    I brought my freshly beaten tapa back to George and Mary Rose Sevaru’s house, where I was staying in 1986, and hung it on a shaded clothesline to dry. When night came, I took it down, folded it twice lengthwise, and placed it under my sleeping mat to flatten it. The next day, I hung it on the clothesline behind the house to thoroughly dry in direct sunshine. It was now ready to paint. I was delighted when Martha and Lottie agreed to help me.

    I prepared by spending most of an afternoon observing Lottie designing a cloth. Lottie was...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Spiritual Realm
    (pp. 111-138)

    I looked forward to finishing my cloth. Unlike the beating and designing stages, which individual women usually carry out alone, applying the red dye known asdunis a social event. I had often passed groups of women chatting happily in the cool area under a house or tree, while they applieddunto their tapas from a shared pot. This looked like fun. I also assumed that applying the dye would not tax my meagre technical skills nearly as much as the hard labour of beating the bark or the frustrations of coaxing the sooty blackmiiinto neat...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Community
    (pp. 139-170)

    Having completed my little tapa cloth, I packed it away and have rarely looked at it since. It was time to move on to the major thrust of my research: conducting a rounded, holistic analysis of tapa. I was interested in everything: cultural heritage, local uses, and the implications of a growing market for the cloth as a form of “ethnic art.” I had hoped to work with my favourite research assistant from 1981-83—MacSherry Gegeyo—but he had since moved to Port Moresby. George met with other community leaders to discuss my project and nominated Roland Wawe, a handsome...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Culture Change: Tapa and the Rainforest
    (pp. 171-205)

    Early in 1995, I received a letter from Franklin Seri, then the village councillor for Uiaku and an old friend. After updating me on recent births and deaths, Franklin ended by mentioning he would be visiting Berkeley, California in a few months as part of a delegation of four Maisin men to promote tapa cloth.

    Needless to say, I was electrified. I hadn’t been back to Papua New Guinea for more than eight years and had heard nothing about a visit to the United States in the infrequent letters I had received from villagers. Franklin’s letter gave few clues as...

  11. Conclusion: Ancestral Lines
    (pp. 207-214)

    In May 1998, I walked into the upstairs office of the MICAD building in Uiaku, picked up the satellite phone, and called my wife in the United States. This very ordinary action would have been unimaginable only a year or two earlier. Although not without difficulties—much of the time, the phone failed to make connections and cost a small fortune to operate—it still struck me as a vivid illustration of globalization. We live in a time of unprecedented movement and integration of people, products, and ideas around the world. Even remote places like Uiaku are not untouched.


  12. References
    (pp. 215-222)
  13. Index
    (pp. 223-229)