Assignment on the Big Man Complex
This assignment requires viewing Ongka’s Big Moka. It will test your ability to apply two concepts covered in lecture and both main and supplementary text—economic exchange in tribal society and the political and legal process in the absence of government or the state as we know it. Before viewing Ongka’s Big Moka, view the video on tribal societies, which contains material on the Mende, a tribal society similar to the Kawelka but whichalso contains information about the role of the clans and of brideprice. How will this case study help you understand how Kawelka society works?
As usual, please submit your answer on a separate sheet of paper, typed, double-spaced, with a minimum of two pages. Your answers should be detailed—one liners will yield much lower scores than a full answer. The values assigned each question should give you some idea as to how long the answer should be. Total value is 75 points plus 15 points extra credit.
In what ways does Ongka’s feast reflect Mauss’s three obligations of the gift? For that purpose, review this item in Chapter 11 and in your PowerPoint presentation on Economic Anthropology. Describe each obligation in terms of his efforts to repay Peruwa for the earlier moka.(15 points)
Karl Polanyi argued that in non-Western societies, “the economy is an instituted process.” Explain how this argument applies to moka and its preparation among the Kawelka. Include in your discussion how the pig feast fits into the political organization of the Kawelka (15 points)
How did Ongka “rule”: by physical coercion or by persuasion? What choice did he actually have, and explain why it was limited? Defend your answer. (15 points)
When Ongka declares at the end, “I have knocked you down because I have given you so much,” you can bet it was a metaphor alluding to the period prior to the coming of the Australian government. What did this metaphor refer to? (15 points)
As you know, the Kawelka have no state as defined in text and lecture, and therefore no system of codified law. Doesn’t Ongka’s obligation to sponsor the moka amount to fulfilling an agreement equivalent to a legal contract, nevertheless? Defend your answer, whatever it may be; you will be graded on how well you make the argument, not on the position you take. (15 points)
For 5 points extra credit, compare and contrast Ongka’s status as a big man with the position of a Kwakiutl chief. To answer this question, you will need to consult Ch. 13 of the main text on chiefdoms.
For another 10 points credit, has fighting ceased in New Guinea, East and West? View Tribal War–Papua New Guinea on You Tube and support your conclusion with your observations from the film.Explain the seeming lack of change from the pre-colonization era.
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