by Dr. Laurence Goldman
In this concluding chapter I shall review and reconsider some of the prevalent themes that have emerged from an analysis purporting to provide a semantically and linguistically informed study of disputing among the Huli. A central and unifying aspect of the various discussions has been an involvement with inter-sex roles and relationships. In this regard, I have been concerned to expound the senses in which
important oppositions like an da ( private) / hama (public), homa (death )/ habe ( life), darama (blood ) / kuni -(bone), tene (agnates) / yamuwini (non-agnatic cognates) and damba (bride-price pigs) / anda (bows) manifest the multidimensionality of the male-female dichotomy. Social interaction in Huli is dependent on, as well as constrained by, utilisation of associated descriptive and evaluative vocabularies that reflexively index their experiential base. The sexual distinction is thus both a constituent feature of the phenomena examined, and an identifiable discursive instrument. These twin facets, which may be
contrasted respectively as static and dynamic, suggest the manner in which this categorial opposition operates as a rule of synthesis, to systematise, stabilise and conceptually organise an empirical manifold in accordance with related schemes of values. The sexual division is then, at an unconscious and unquestioned level, an a priori framework, an absolute presupposition the phenomenal counterparts of which are the verbal and nonverbal patterns elicited and set out in preceding chapters.
The unity of the set of distinctions noted above is a characteristic possessed by virtue of their having been reproduced in accordance with this operational rule. In many cases this process is reflected in the morphemic structure of the context-specific lexis of kinship and other be behavioral domains. That I should have fastened on the sex role phenomena as being of prime significance for an understanding of Huli culture will come as – no surprise to students of Highland New Guinea societies. The saliency of the theme is un equivocally attested to by most ethnographers who have conducted research in the area and is certainly prefigured in the publications of Glasse on the Huli. Nevertheless, within the broader context of my stated concern with language in its social context, particular attention has here been paid to correlating role differentiation along sexual lines with identifiable patterns of speech use. More specifically, with the incriminatory and defensive postures assumed in situations of dispute. The task entailed an explanation of how speech is instrumental in marking status contrasts – e.g. agali haguene and Iba Tiri – and in defining certain life-cycle stages. Given that the Huli display an acute awareness of the identities and relationships of their linguistic varieties, Chapter 1 proceeded to outline how the associated stigma ideologies are expressed, maintained and conveyed through verbal interaction strategies. The presentation of data on myth, norms and other cultural formulae – as educational mediums – illustrates the importance of language in the transmission of knowledge and its significance as a social control mechanism. The underlying principles of these systems, discussed more fully below, are reinforced through the circumscription of lexical choice and the use of terms replete with the semantics of female sexuality. Despite the voluminous literature on male-female interrelationships, the specific collation of related speech-focused information is a line of enquiry which promises to reveal broad patterns of attitudes, usages and speech norms common to particular Highland areas. In identifying a system of “membership categorization devices” (Sacks 1972) it is perhaps plain that the distinctive feature of the definitional axes (or scheme of values) involved, is an elaborate ideology of pollution. In this respect Buchbinder and Rappaport have aptly commented that “pollution beliefs raise justification of male dominance from that of mere material advantage or necessity to the dignity of a spiritual principle not to be challenged by women or compromised b y men … “(1976:31-32). The notion of contagion thus provides a thematic link between the treatments of intersexual relations, kinship a nd disputes undertaken in this thesis. While the implications of a pollution ideology a re not uniformly realised throughout the New Guinea highlands, in many instances the indigenous euphemisms are formulated in structurally similar terms.
The causal explanations for a supposed historical transition from a time of immortality to mortality frequently involve ideas about “renewed skin” and snakes (see Wagner 1967:40 and Modjeska 1977:30). Furthermore, the critical female infelicity responsible for the introduction of death is often defined as an inappropriate ”verbal” response(as in Huli (ref.Chapter 1), Daribi(Wagner 1967:40) and perhaps Etoro (Kelly 1976:49) societies). The resultant syndrome firmly establishes a connection between females, feminine speech and normative breach that underlies the whole system of censure and praise in Huli
verbal interaction. Transposing this welter of ideas to the domain of kinship, interpretative models often stress (directly or by implication) processes of concealment, denial or countering of female primordiality as central structural principles. Explaining the social system thus invariably involves, at some stage, a revelation of the unsuspected complexity of those contexts in which the mythical / ritual priority of women is ma sked, declared or deferred . to, often by means of symbolic inversion. What appears on the surface as an application of contrasting tenets, is mediated in reality by a structuring of those occasions when the competing perspectives of fertility / death can acceptably be attested to or validated. Representing the system a s constituted by sets of contrary propositions of relationship is to ascribe a logical property to the explanatory model; it is one, however, which reflects the element of disjunction – most essentially concerned with the cross -sex distinction – identifiable in its static and dynamic modes. At both the behavioural and ideological levels, male appropriation of political talk, pig prestation and distribution, and ritual decoration – parallel modes of self-presentation on hama – is balanced by acknowledgment of the role of women in the genesis and production stages. This ratification is often formalised in myth, status reversal proverbs used to counter applications of dominance ideologies, or dramatised through complementary ritual performances. Contrastiveness and constituent unity, twin aspects of opposition noted in the quotation from Pos, are principles fundamental to Huli conceptual and linguistic patterns. What seems important, in this context, is that we grasp the sense in which certain salient symbols straddle the three domains of pigs, print and patter. The imputed parallelism is not simply a corollary of theoretical construction on my part. They are indigenously construed as conceptually interchangeable modes of behaviour where open quests into (and public affidavits of) reputations are made. On account of this identity they are treated as a suitable source for analogy and metaphor, for the statement of symbolic equivalence between the use of pigs, feathers and talk. In all three spheres we find the sexual disjunction maintained by rituals of separation and sanitisation that define the normative precepts of acceptable interaction. By way of illustrating the argument, I shall briefly recapitulate the essential implications of the Huli notion of “forehead” – Wanekuni (daughter’s (wane)+bone (kuni)) encapsulates an implicit relation between “feminine priority” (cf.Gell 1975:172) and a general concept of veracity. It represents, for both the Huli and Melpa, the locus of truth which, because of its position as “between the eyes”, partakes of the positive connotations of “middle”(hanuni). In Huli, it is the place where lies, shame and standing are idiomatically said to be indexed( e.g.D.4:608-609). The semantic associations with the triad of dimensions discussed in Chapter three – – control, substantiality and openness – are reinforced in decoration behaviour. Here, the notion of “middle” has both a horizontal and vertical axis- the forehead and vertex points – which respectively serve as locations for the placement and display of Superb Bird of Paradise and cassowary feathers. The significance of the symbolic statements implied by these actions, is partly attributable to the positional connotations of hanuni in Huli thought. Further exemplification of this notion is found in the system of ex change and consanguinity embedded in Aba kinship which is determined by an applied principle of cross-sex sibling ship. Aba are essentially construed a s persons between whom reciprocal economic, ritual and social obligations subsist; this is verbally realised in the Aba pureremo (ref.Chapter 1).
Conceptualizing this state in terms of intermediation, captures and conveys the characteristic ethos of this kin relationship: homa embo hanuni – they are in the middle like one’s forehead. The pureremo develops a metaphorical identity between the actions of placing these kin on one’s land or fulfilling duties, and decorating with feathers. The whole semantics of hanuni seem further manifested in the institution of Wariabu payments: they are “medial” as exchange items between interacting patrilines, as well as intermediate between haguene and daga units as categories of bride-price. In this regard, hanuni expresses the twin themes of separation and incorporation (i.e. contrastiveness and constituent unity), fundamental aspects of the complementarity of women in Huli society. It is on account of these contextual applications that we are able to identify an indigenously stated structural parallelism between the domains of paint, pigs and patter. Nowhere, however, is this association between the cross-sex principle and hanuni more perfectly embodied than in the etymological argument, detailed fully in the body of this thesis, equating hanuni and banini (cross-cousins:ref. discussion on Fig.11).
In my exposition of descent structure, I have been struck, and much influenced, by the apparent morphological correspondences between the Huli and Daribi (as described by Wagner 1967) systems. The organisational principles of substance / consanguinity and reciprocity / exchange are reflected in the disjunctive nature of Aba and pagebidi (cf.Wagner 1967:74) kinship. The constituent unity of con-sanguinity is that of a conflation of maternal and paternal substance repercussions (ibid.pp.118,140) which embodies, in both the anthropologist’s and native’s models, the operational notion of opposition delineated earlier. In addition to these first order internal contrasts, there is a second level of disjunction between consanguinity and processes of unit definition and differentiation. The analytical insights into Huli kinship gained from the preceding discussions endorse conclusions reached by other ethnographers of Highland societies: ” ••• the fact remains that the New Guinea literature displays a widespread perception of an interplay of opposed principles (and / or cultural idioms)” (Kelly 1977:6). I have chosen to characterise this disjunction as one of contrariness rather than contradiction. The organisational principies of Huli kinship thus compound the male-female distinction with cross-sex siblingship. The resultant dualism is identifiable at all levels of the kinship and residential systems. Insofar as alliance relations (i.e.Tene:Yamuwini) manifest a pairing principle, it needs to be again emphasised that at the descent-system level this is a relation between two patrilines (e.g. Hiwa:Koma, Dugube : Tobani). Moreover, D.10 shows quite clearly that the indigenous conceptions of consanguineal/affinal ties are subject to political debate; the perspectives are convertible. The oppositions of Huli society are thus predicated and focused on these complementary structural determinants. In this respect, the Aba nexus appears as a dialectical interplay between consanguinity / affinity. The sibling tie at the parental level is breached through marriage, re-established in the next generation through cross-cousinship (hanini), and then severed a gain through transfer of Wariabu. Ritual reinforcement of the associated norms is effected through the Tege degradation rites of Wali Hanini and Wariabu Hoge (ref.Chapter 1). This oscillation between exchange – prohibition – exchange (Fig.11), terminologically paralleled by the equation of MB and MDSch/MBDch in contradistinction to hanini (MBch), is achieved through the system of Wariabu payments. Their rationale is indigenously articulated (as I have repeatedly shown) in terms of siblingship and incest. The exchange of Wariabu may be conceived as a ritual of separation or sanitisation of sibling exogamy, manifesting it self in norms which constrain Abato kill and consume these pigs. The sibling bond is opposed, as among the Daribi, by Wariabu transfers which at the same time constitute an act of unit definition through exchange. The separation of ego’s agantic line from the patrilines of his Aba relations is effected through enforced consumption of “polluted” meat.
In presenting my ethnographic data on kinship I have been concerned to explore the implications and native exegesis of the bone/blood distinction, but also the very concept of connection or relation itself. In this regard, examination of the lexis and idioms associated with genealogical relatedness revealed the centrality of notions of “binding or tying” (e.g. bai leda (consanguinity), daba (generation):ref.Chapter 1). To the extent that an explicit identification is made between people and talk, interrelationships here are phrased in terms of “ropes”. Interestingly, the idea of “knot (pongo)” displays both negative connotations – in the context of talk or sorcery as a symbol of “deviance” – as well as the positive import of endurance, permanence and strength as a fundamental aspect of the cosmological system. My exposition of the above focused on mediums of discrimination – choice of lexeme, metaphor, idioms, the structure of group/category labels – to reveal a coherent set of beliefs about female sexuality. In treating language as a social instrument, and as a source for understanding the semantic and metaphoric dimensions of the male-female dichotomy, I have argued the necessity(for a thorough understanding of Huli kinship) to incorporate non-segmental (i.e.prosodic) correlates. Tone has thus been treated as a secondary linguistic feature, in many instances marking contextual shifts, rather than fundamental alterations, in meaning. This has allowed us to perceive levels of synonymity in such significant pairs as the following:
In this context we might meaningfully contrast patrilateral -matrilateral ties in terms of the affective notions of “desire”(hame) ‘ – hame(F) – hamene(B) – haigini(father-son:clan) and “sympathy” (·dara) – darama(blood) – daramabi(red). Wariabu payments, as the constituent word segment abi intimates, are consonant with the affective nature of cross-sex ties; they are sympathy conditioned transfers. As is the case with all abi transactions, they are a healing rite, an application or medicine to “make well” (dabi). It is in the light of this argument that I have explicitly rejected a latent symbolic equivalence between pigs and people in Huli thought (cf.Young 1971:223 for a parallel rejection in terms of Goodenough concepts). These kinds of overt opposition typify the implications of the idiom of “base” so prevalent in New Guinea Highland societies. The term tene can refer at once to one !s own agnatic line, as well as a MB patriline in the context of alliance relationships. Clearly, as Wagner(1967) ably demonstrated, this reflects a distinction in the concept of “causality”(tene) between origin and sequence, the former emphasising the precedence of wife- giving units. Paralleling the Daribi term ~(ibid.19 67:67), the Huli word tene also implies a notion of ownership and responsibility inherent in matrilateral kinship. Importantly, the alternative term anduane (owner) incorporate the morpheme andu meaning “breast” and, as I have noted previously, one may be said to “take the breast” from a mother’s-brother (ref.D.10:357- 358). The actual application of tene here expresses the indigenous appreciation of the cross-substance tie between father and mother’s-brother; a child bas “two fathers”(see Wagner 1967:77,124), a conception terminologically marked in Huli by the kin morph “Aba”. The ideology of Tene / Yamuwini is thus a means of ordering relations between groups, a s well as individuals within a parish. It is an ideology that has meaning and application only in terms of the relationship of people to land. Within the range of bilateral Aba, here is a differential weighting of FZ’s descendants 1- 0 have a potentiality, provided some demonstrated tie to ego is made, for reclassification according to the impersonal category term · yamuwini. This term will he used only where some form of residential relation to the parish is effected.
In terms of the system’s model taxonomy he is then referred to as Yamuwini; for any ego the personal kin idiom of Aba obtains. The Tene / Yamuwini opposition displays a confluence of cross-sex principles. It further represents an institutionalization of prevalent stigma philosophies evidenced by repeated occurrences of yamo/yamu(nothing) in the lexis of female sexuality. The separability of male/female is retained in unit definitions where exogamic and consangnineal term are marked by morphemes connoting “woman”.
What needs to be kept analytically distinct are the conceptual and organisational levels at which these terms apply. As an ego-focused matrix of cognatic kinship, the Aba/Wariabu system is bilaterally extended and cuts across parish boundaries and hence the Tene / Yamuwini classes. Insofar as the marriage system is defined through Aba kinship, Glasse unquestionably confuses two reference frames (i.e. the system and ego-related orders when he states that “only certain parish members of the bride can eat the ‘pigs of the wedding’ (1968:57), and that receiving / consuming Wariabu stresses the
complementarity of Tene / Yamuwini “in the parish”(ibid). Rather, as I have exhaustively argued, it is concerned with the principles of siblingship and the isolation of patriliny from the implications of female blood. Even beyond these ethnographic and theoretical illustrations, the thrust of the argument presented herein is that an understanding of the semantics of Aba kinship necessitates attention to speech-focused data. The Aba and hanini relationships are defined by, as well as expressed through, the verbal apparatus of pureremo. If we are to utilise the notion of norm as a counter in a kinship analysis, we must surely avoid excessive abstraction whereby our formulations Are divorced from indigenous contexts of actual utterance, either in situations of verbal application or “ideal” statements to an anthropologist. It is a marked characteristic of the Huli that norms – concerning Aba, hanini, sexual intercourse and sexual offences – are indeed encapsulated and expressed in formulaic terms. Furthermore, we are able to identify (either in ours or the Huli terms) stylistic and aesthetic structures functionally related to the maintenance and communication of such norms (ref. Cbapters1, 3 and 4). To the degree that these are verbalised and
manipulated in disputes, we can moreover determine significant levels of rule-governed creativity with respect to language use. How far other New Guinea Highland societies provide parallels to the above is difficult to gauge at present. However, it is clear that we can no more interpret the Huli kinship and marriage system without reference to contexts where norms and relationships are verbalised, than we can identify and analyse these linguistic manifestations without recourse to interrelationships of form and content. In these respects the Huli data suggest areas for future investigation and cross-cultural comparison.
In the concept of tene we have, then, a doctrine of causality, a discursive instrument serving to define the bounds of sense and nonsense in Huli thought. Alongside the male / female distinction, it is a categorial presupposition that cannot sensibly be questioned in itself. Formulated as “every event / action / state has a tene” – in the various senses of cause, source, reason, purpose or responsible agent – it is mani-fested in such statements as: “Men never kill for no reason” (D.9:163-164;333), or “People don’t laugh without cause”(D.3), and constitutes the initial phase of the dispute settlement model given ·in Chapter 3. Insofar as I have revealed and documented a level of rule-governed verbal behaviour, recognised and indexed by the Huli, there exists a further set of presuppositions, or speech norms, defining sense / nonsense in the context of communicative competence. These involve semantic and stylistic supra-sentential constraints, zonal appropriateness, the apportionment of credit / discredit according to the “sufficiency” (degree of acceptability) – role, type and truth – of a stretch of discourse, and the categories of participation specific to settlement-directed talking: “Did the middle men use to speak or was it only yourselves?”(D.2:46-47). These themes, among others, have occupied a central position in my analysis and presentation of Huli disputing, a and it is to them that I now briefly direct my attention.
(An extract from Talk Never Dies: An Analysis of Disputes Among the Huli. A thesis submitted by Laurence R. Goldman for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, University College, London. February, 1982., p. 421-431.)