Volume 100 1991 > Volume 100, No. 1 > Money and Moka: men, women and change in Anganen mortuary exchange, by Michael Nihill, p 45-70
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This article addresses two notable instances of material change, exchange, and social inequality in Anganen, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. The first concerns the rapid inflation of pearl-shells due to the Australian colonial presence. The second instance is the rendering of money as a valuable suitable for most gift exchanges (see Nihill 1989a for details) and its increasing availability primarily through coffee sales and to a lesser extent bisnis (a term obviously adopted from English but one not completely synonymous with ‘business’ in the Western and capitalist sense).

Before the impact of the Australians, intact pearl-shell crescents, always desired and major exchange items, were virtually monopolised by big-men, a point integral to their domination of other men and of women (also see Nihill 1989b). Inflation saw a ‘democratisation’ of access to pearl-shells, thus diminishing the hierarchy between big-men and others — indeed, often old and young—though the inequality between men and women did not lessen; indeed, it may have increased. Money, too, has diminished status distinctions among men, but it has also impacted upon women, as they receive some return on the labour they invest in household coffee production (Nihill 1989a). Historically, women have been ‘producers’ in opposition to men as ‘transactors’ (and thus key political actors in a society like Anganen), to employ Marilyn Strathern's (1972) dichotomy. However, access to money in their own right has prompted women to emerge, albeit in a small way when compared with men, as transactors in exchange, particularly the incremental stage of mortuary exchange fittingly known as ‘moka’ in tokpisin, and this exchange and the effect of these historical forces are the major focus here.

Clearly, gender is a central aspect in this historical change. Gender has come to mean many and varied things in the now sizeable literature on gender and politics. For my purposes, I consider not only some of the structural and cultural features which underpin the general political dominance men have historically enjoyed, but, following the perspective forcibly advocated by Marilyn Strathern (e.g., 1981), gender is also treated as a symbolic construct, notably the capacity of gender to encode value hierarchies and differentiation in political action and - 46 status. In these terms, ‘male’ and ‘female’ are not reducible to men and women as social actors, but constitute a main opposition employed to express the positive or negative value of things and acts. Thus, the Anganen refer to large denomination paper money as ‘male’ (an), while coins are ‘female’ (renan); poor men of the pre-inflation period are referred to as ‘like women’, while powerful individual traits of women are interpreted through male attributes. In the last example, then, despite ideological definitions of what men and women ‘are’, gender concepts may be employed to internally differentiate these categories, the point being that the notion of weak men or strong women exchanging in ‘moka’, that is, individuals, does not necessarily threaten the ideological foundations of what men or women are as categories.

To gain a fuller perspective on the emergence of women as transactors, another economic development in contemporary Anganen needs to be considered, namely bisnis and its consequence for political hierarchy, as it has undermined the monopoly exchange has had on prestige and politics and also underwrites inequality. Following this, some brief comparative remarks are made, primarily to indicate that, while Highland societies can be seen to have apparent cultural similarities and often similar colonial experiences, material change has impacted on different societies in often vastly different ways.


The Anganen are located in the lower Lai and Nembi Valley region of the Southern Highlands Province. Group territories are associated with putatively agnatic clans. However, despite an ideology of patrilineal descent and normative patrivirilocality, large numbers of male local group members are nonagnates. This is no real barrier to the maintenance of alliance. Political and marital alliances are interwoven, and these are both related to spatial proximity, meaning that affines are usually neighbours and should be allies. This is important for exchange, as allies and affines are exchange partners as well, be it the large-scale (clan, local group) events associated with warfare or ceremonial exchange, or those explicitly based on kinship and subclans in a system of generalised marriage (Nihill 1986, 1988b).

The Anganen are primarily shifting horticulturalists and pig-raisers. The division of labour is typically highland. Men do the more strenuous but intermittent tasks, while women do the lighter but more repetitive and ultimately more time-consuming tasks associated with gardening, child care, and the care of pigs. Because of several factors (see Nihill 1986 ch.II), cash cropping was established late in Anganen, after much of the rest of the Southern Highlands (which itself generally lags behind the Highlands). Coffee was introduced into Anganen only relatively recently, and most men did not plant it until the late - 47 1970s. A census of 164 adult men in 1981 showed that only 57 had sold coffee, while a further 53 had planted but not sold it, and 54 had not planted although many expressed an interest in doing so. Another census was undertaken in 1988 among 85 men from the same local groups as previously. The proportion of men who had not planted coffee had dropped only marginally, from 33 per cent, 54/164, to 30 per cent, 25/85. The big change occurred in the percentage of men who had sold their produce. All 60 who had planted it had sold some, with 45, three-quarters, of these saying they had sold what they considered to be large amounts; 42 said they had sold their coffee for three years or more. 2

Coffee is by far the most important source of income for most Anganen households. Although many men have engaged in wage labour, this is usually of limited duration and undertaken with a specific task in mind, say, to get the money component of bride-wealth. Few have permanent employment. Very few women have worked at all. If they have, it was generally for the local mission, school or health centre. Labour migration was never popular among women, although more women are now accompanying male kinsmen to the Western Highlands than previously. The marketing of vegetables is considered important by women, though the economic returns are generally small, and men often ridicule this women's bisnis. The few men who sell produce at the local market are old and widowers, and frequently the source of considerable amusement. One big-man has begun commercially growing cabbages, but this is regarded in different terms from the small-scale selling of vegetables. Most young and middle-aged men have tried some form of bisnis, usually a trade store, but these rarely provide for regular income over extended periods of time, with only a few men financially successful through stores, beer clubs, or running buses and trucks which ferry people and cargo to and from the major centres of Mendi and Mt Hagen. Overall, the lack of alternatives for most Anganen households underscores the significance of coffee as the source of money, and most now have access to, albeit a limited, means of income. Some of the cash in the possession of the household is used in consumption and related manners, but much of it is included in exchange, along with pigs, pork and pearl-shells.


The Anganen situation regarding women and transaction is in stark contrast with that which Lederman (1986) describes for the neighbouring Mendi. Mendi women enjoy a status unknown in Anganen regarding twem (gift credit/debt) relationships which are crucial for the provisioning of exchange, especially those of the type I call ‘mundane’ in Anganen. While clan or local group based warfare payments form part of this exchange category, most are staged between affinal units with respect to individuals and their bodies on occasions such as marriage, - 48 injury and death. Because of generalised marriage (to the subclan level), this critically hinges upon married women as mothers and mediators of social relations (see Nihill 1988b). Women do not formally act as transactors. A woman's interest in exchange affairs primarily stems from a desire to see natal kin receive wealth, as is typical of much of mundane exchanges, and the positive consequences which good exchange is thought to have, notably the promotion of well-being or the alleviation of sickness in her children (see Nihill 1986, 1988a).

One axiom of Anganen (mundane) exchange, thus, reads simply: women connect, men transact. Lederman maintains that women qualitatively act the same as men in twem, the difference being one of degree as men have more of these exchange partnerships on average than do women. Mendi women are able to control wealth in a way denied to their Anganen counterparts. Wealth given direct to individuals in Mendi is theirs, irrespective of gender. This is not generally the case in Anganen. The distribution of bride-wealth in the two societies reflects this contrast. Anganen brides demonstrate their mediating role by moving wealth between men, but the actual distribution of the bride-wealth is decided by the bride's agnates. Both Mendi ethnographers (Lederman 1986:119–23; Ryan 1961:101) note that brides have control over the distribution of their bride-wealth.

The situation in Anganen is clearly related to notions of wealth-control and exchange participation. This is a very complex issue. The presumed self-evidence of gender roles in that the absence of women as transactors historically is not deemed problematic by men or women, the cultural notions of work and of ownership (if this Western concept is, in fact, applicable) of land and personal property, the question of formal and informal power, individual differences and ‘exceptions’, and so on may all be relevant for understanding this issue. Here is not the place for a comprehensive and lengthy discussion. It may be sufficient to note that the Anganen situation broadly concurs with Marilyn Strathern's (1988) argument concerning gender, labour and power over its products in a setting where female productivity is critically geared to provisioning exchange (among other things), even though women are largely excluded from transacting. The immediate interest here is primarily restricted to Anganen terminologies denoting differential wealth control and how this relates to exchange.

The substantial labour investment which women commit to their pigs grants them a say in their deployment. Both men and women acknowledge this point, and, should a man dispose of pigs his wife has tended for a considerable time, 3 she can publicly chastise her husband and expect strong sympathy and support. A woman expects her wishes to be considered, with some of the animals she has reared or their meat going to those she designates, most commonly her natal kin. - 49 A woman's husband is often pleased to follow her recommendation, if for no other reason than that these individuals are likely to be exchange partners of his in any case: commonality rather than conflict of interest is the norm.

Women see the labour they invest as meaningful. A woman's pigs represent and embody her capacity and identity, and this is circulated in social exchange, all the more so if these pigs or their meat (which is considered highly nutritious) go to her kin, thus furthering their interests and well-being. However, women do not transact pigs in their own name (unless they have bought the animal with their own money). Pigs in exchange are formally associated with a woman's husband. On occasion, women may remark that the pigs given in exchange are, in fact, donated by the household as a unit; at other times, and in a way not unlike Mendi where the relation between husband and wife can be considered as an exchange partnership (cf. Lederman 1986:127), Anganen women sometimes remark that they ‘give’ their husbands the pigs they have cared for, especially if the animals were originally provided by the woman's kin.

One of the central points of contention hinges upon the evaluation of the statement regarding the ‘giving’ of pigs by wives to husbands. 4 On the one hand, this statement may be the way a woman expresses the meaning of the embodiment of her labour in the gift. On the other, largely because of this meaning, it illustrates that men are able to expropriate the products of the labour of women through the voluntary acquiescence of the women.

Like the people of the Dualo region of the Eastern Highlands (Sexton 1984, 1986), the Anganen use ‘father’, ara, and ‘mother’, engi, to denote close association between persons and things such as pigs. In Dualo the terms are sex-linked but apparently convey equivalent rights to personal property, with ‘mother’ and ‘father’ meaning ‘owner’ as well: “the majority of respondents said that pigs belonged jointly to them and their spouses” (Sexton 1986:-63). The notion that women ‘give’ pigs for their husbands to exchange or that the household may be regarded as the exchange unit would seem to indicate this is also the case in Anganen. However, the situation is far more complex than this. For the most part, the terms are sex-linked in Anganen: a woman may be called the ‘mother’ of a spade or a pot, her husband the ‘father’ of his axe. There is little ambiguity with possessions intimately associated with (or ‘owned’ by) individuals, but pigs are associated with the domestic unit, with husband and wife, and here the issue becomes convoluted. Men are commonly the ‘fathers’ of pigs, and women commonly the ‘mothers’ of domestic pigs, but should a woman buy a pig with her own cash, for instance, she is men ara, the pig's ‘father’, not men engi: these terms are not exclusively sex-linked. Gender here operates in contradistiction to physiology. As is common throughout Melanesia (A. M. Strathern 1981), gender constructs here designate difference in hierarchies of power and value. - 50 At all times, ‘father’ signifies far greater power. Being ‘mother’ allows a woman influence only in deciding the disposition of a pig she has cared for, and not the right to publicly transact it. 5 Indeed, provided a man has properly consulted his wife, he can overrule her wishes if he so desires, and it is unlikely that the community would dispute his right to do so.

On first appearances, this seems to obscure the ‘real’ reason why women do not transact ‘culture’, as men, not women, are defined as transactors, with this simply being the state of things and presumed normal as such. Indeed, this is the case with the yasolu ceremonial pig kill. By definition, women cannot formally transact. Animals for which a woman is ‘father’ can be entered only in the name of men. This occurred in 1988, when a notable woman gave a pig to her two adult sons, who each received a side after it was slaughtered. Were this simply the case with all exchange in Anganen, however, it could not accommodate that this same woman gave a pig in her own name in a ‘moka’ discussed below because she was men ara. In mundane exchange there are no formal procedures preventing her from doing so; quite the contrary in fact, as what I call ‘ownership’ positively encourages transaction.

The Anganen occasionally elaborate further on why men are the ‘fathers’ of their pigs, citing male ownership of land, which provides the sweet potato fed to pigs as significant (a point crucial in the redistribution of coffee money to be discussed below). 6 Sexton (1986:61–2) notes that male “trusteeship” of land through clan corporations is integral to male control of wealth and (ceremonial) exchange, arguing that “women usually give up their ownership rights to land at marriage”. That is, virilocality, not gender per se, is the real issue. In Anganen, men are su ara, ‘father of the ground’ of their natal, agnatic territories; their sisters are su engi, ‘mother of the ground’, denoting intimate association with birthplace and agnatic territory (see Nihill 1986). Nonetheless, unlike Sexton's observation, the two are not the same. True, women always retain residual rights to natal land, often activating them for short-term garden projects, occasionally prolonged uxorilocality, with their sons possibly becoming landowners, su ara (though this is not simply ascribed as is the case with the sons of male clan members). If ‘ownership’ is taken to be the power to extend usufruct to outsiders, rather than the possibility of activating usufruct in natal territory, then a woman cannot be an ‘owner’: she cannot invite others, even her own husband or sons, to garden her deceased father's plots or to clear virgin forest in her clan territory. First, she must ask permission from a clansman, usually her brother: men oversee and regulate land usage at this level. 7 Lisette Josephides (1985b) forcefully argues that land is critical to the ideology of male political control, even though Kewa political status is largely associated with oration and dispute settlement. In Anganen, land is also crucial, all the more so as it is the crucial means of - 51 production which is significantly geared to provisioning exchange, the central political arena.

Inequality is compounded in exchange by what is definitionally male ‘work’, kele. The cultural understanding of work not only includes physical toil as utilitarian definitions would have it (cf. Schwimmer 1979). The production (in this narrow sense) of wealth is work for the Anganen, but so too is organising and preparing wealth for exchange, practices dominated by men. Arranging an exchange event or the handsome display of wealth for it, or killing and butchering of pigs at a feast is male kele. For the Anganen this is just as important as, if not more important than, female work, with kele having the propensity to undermine the significance of female toil even when it is acknowledged, as with pigs.

Mystification is even more the case with pearl-shells, the other main ‘traditional’ exchange valuable which has survived in the colonial and postcolonial periods, as men totally control supply, circulation and display. The relevance of female labour, say, for a pig traded for pearl-shell, is obscured. Shells are ‘male’ in connotation, 8 and, fittingly, it has been the scope for manipulation of pearl-shells which has historically been the main mechanism through which men have achieved renown in exchange (cf. Nihill 1988b, 1989a).

In many respects, money has been equated with pearl-shells in Anganen (Nihill 1989a). Coins are symbolically ‘female” (renan), but notes, especially the larger denominations (K10 and K20), are ‘male’ (an), and there is a decided preference for, ideally new, K20s to be given in exchange. Coins, small denomination notes and soiled paper money are usually unacceptable. Although money has not totally replaced pearl-shells in gift exchange, as has occurred in other parts of the Highlands, it has now come to dominate exchange. In 1981–2 there was a general consensus that pearl-shells and K20 notes were roughly equivalent in exchange and the employment of both was preferred. However, by 1988 this had changed, with most men preferring cash over shells despite the frequent use of both, with money now the single most important kind of wealth deployed in overall exchange.

Despite the close identification of pearl-shells and money, the situation regarding control has not been replicated, due primarily to the substantial amounts of labour which women invest in the picking and processing of coffee beans for sale (cf. A. Strathern 1982:313). This grants women influence in how this income should be used, and, while men still control most cash, all agree that women deserve access to the money gained through the sale of household coffee. The terminological association of men and women with pigs is repeated here, with men the ‘fathers’ of coffee grown by the household. This is very much by definition, but men also say that they make the important decisions regarding - 52 planting, and the ground in which coffee is planted is always land which a man unambiguously owns (Nihill 1989a). 9

As with pigs, the terminology used for coffee indicates unequal control over it and the income it brings. In 1981–2, women were given, or allowed to retain if they had actually sold it, small amounts of money from coffee. This rarely amounted to more than a few kina on any occasion. By 1987–8, with increasing coffee and thus increasing income, this had grown to be K10 or K20 at any one time. This cash is a woman's to do with as she pleases. Most often she uses it to buy trade-store goods for her children or herself. However, by 1988 women were increasingly likely to save some money. At present, they are a source of loans for both women and men. 10 Moreover, this new financial status of women has enabled them to enter the exchange system as transactors, particularly in the ‘moka’ stage of mortuary exchange.


Mortuary exchange has a two-phase basic structure (see Nihill 1986: 190–253). The first is compensation. With nonwarfare-related deaths, ambulakala normatively goes from the agnatic group of men and children (or the husband/son group of married women) to matrilateral kin (a married woman's natal kinsmen). With deaths which result from warfare, the yandare, the “base of the fight”, the original protagonist who enlisted the support of the individual or group of the deceased, gives yand rinkiti to the person's agnates (husband/sons for married women).

The parties can later agree to undertake ‘moka’, the aropowe-a pe phase. Those that had received the earlier compensation, recruited allies or wife-givers offer aropowe to the yandare or wife-receivers, respectively. This is later repaid with increment in a pe. The debt is first offset, then the increment, poke, is added to it. Doubling the aropowe is considered mandatory, but the total repayment can be as much as three times the initial amount, with additional wealth given to accrue greater status for the giver. Aropowe can be given from a few weeks following compensation or many years later. Ape is usually staged many months, if not years, after the aropowe was received.

This flexibility in timing is indicative of the scope for manipulation in ‘moka’ in comparison with exchanges like mortuary compensation which should be given soon after the death in question, a critical factor in why this exchange event can be highly political and the source of great social status for men. It may well also be a factor in the emergence of women as transactors in ‘moka’, and I shall briefly outline the most salient points here.

Moka’ is a major source of what Andrew Strathern (1978) dubs “finance”, as men can deploy wealth in such a way as to remove it from the household sphere - 53 (and thus consumption and any influence of wives or other kin), while using resources of other households so that the aropowe can be returned with increment. Indeed, just as a means of material provisioning, ‘moka’ has political consequences, and this is fundamental to staging the yasolu pig-kill, the most prestigious exchange event held in Anganen (Nihill 1988b).

Exchanges like compensation carry great moral imperative. Individuals of the responsible groups (the yandare, agnates of a dead man, etc.) are expected to give redress. Should compensation not be forthcoming, then active kin relations or political alliance between the parties are seriously threatened, and should a member of the donor category obligated to offer his wealth not do so, then loss of status will almost certainly result. Death compensation is, in fact, very much a group affair, with yand rinkiti given between clan or clan-cluster allies and ambulakala essentially between affinal subclans. While certain individuals may adopt more prominent roles in these, this does not diminish the group character of compensation, as wealth is given en masse by groups to groups, with individual contribution to, and redistribution of, often not known even to members of the opposing unit. The motivation for undertaking ‘moka’ ranges from the group-kinship-alliance orientation of compensation, to explicit economic self-interest and political competition. Generally speaking, it does not have the moral imperatives of rinkiti or ambulakala. Individuals can refuse to participate usually without any status loss. Indeed, individual volition is far more prominent in ‘moka’. Often, individuals negotiate partnerships in private and in isolation from other members of their groups, and, even in group exchanges, individuals can negotiate to ‘direct’ wealth to particular recipients in a way not possible in straight compensation.

Perhaps the best illustration of the shift away from a constraining kinship-group basis for exchange with ‘moka’ does not concern death at all, but serious injury. While these ‘moka’ may involve the same categories of kin already noted, they often concern unrelated individuals (with no explicit reference to alliance figuring in motivation either). Indeed, these (and many death-related ‘moka’ instigated directly between individuals) tend to be extremely aggressive, and thus an arena in which big-men and aspiring big-men actively campaign. Men may offer aropowe or request its repayment as a challenge to economic management, and a successful presentation of a pe brings great prestige to its donor. Indeed, the highly aggressive dancing and boasting of a pe presentation (ol kope), underscores its competitive nature (Nihill MS n.d.).

Big-men also adopt far more prominent roles in ostensibly group-focused ‘moka’ than with compensation: as Josephides (1986:19) convincingly argues, in political systems based on achievement rather than ascription, public recognition is paramount, and Anganen big-men can strategically do this through various - 54 means of manipulation. They can coalesce groups around themselves in a way highly reminiscent of Melpa big-men (A. Strathern 1971) through what Lederman (1986) has termed “sponsoring” in Mendi. This is especially the case with organising the incremental a pe repayment. Big-men will accept a large aropowe, and then enlist the support of followers who agree to take part of the aropowe and reciprocate it with increment when the time comes. By deftly using the wealth of others, a big-man can organise a bulk repayment which bears his name through harnessing the wealth of others to bring him status. ‘Moka’ clearly displays great variation, in size and timing, whether group or individual transactor-focused, the motivational weight of kinship, and so on. Such variation is clear testament to the flexibility the structure of ‘moka’ offers. Indeed, it is this flexibility which ultimately allows great scope for manipulation, thus locating ‘moka’ at the centre of the political process in Anganen, and it may well have facilitated the emergence of women as transactors in these events.


Moka’ has undergone some profound historical changes, with its adaptability indicative of its intrinsic flexibility. The Anganen say they did not use pigs in ‘moka’ until the 1960s. They posit material factors alone for this: they simply did not have enough pigs. The mission ban on pig sacrifice, perhaps a reduction in death feasts because of introduced health facilities and the abolition of warfare, and the interbreeding of introduced pigs with those already present, have all been suggested as possible causes for increased pig numbers. However, some less material factors can also be suggested.

The use of live pigs in exchange implies a corresponding involvement of women and things symbolically female. Pigs gained through home production grant women some say in their allocation, thereby delimiting male autonomy. The absence of pigs from ‘moka’ thus furthers the overall male focus or “masculinisation” of the event, and this is augmented by ‘male’ pearl-shells being the historically dominant exchange item.

Before the arrival of the Australians in the Highlands and the resulting massive inflation of pearl-shell numbers, intact pearl-shell crescents were extremely rare in Anganen. This meant that other shells, bailer and cowrie, and even broken pearl-shells were legitimately used in exchange. Control over intact pearl-shells was in the hands of older and successful men, rendering these men extremely powerful. Unbroken pearl-shell features in bride-wealth, for instance. Such exchanges ultimately permit men to dominate women, shifting them between male groups and harnessing their productive and reproductive capacities to male pursuits (Nihill 1989b). Furthermore, in the past, a young man may have had to indenture himself to a wealthy big-man in order to gain access to shells - 55 if he wished to marry. In return, he gave his labour, and, even after being married, may have surrendered some of his wealth or some of the labour of his household to his patron. Historically, ‘moka’ were dominated by wealthy big-men. If a group prestation, they would have most control and probably receive most shells. If an individual exchange, ‘moka’ was an arena for competition between big-men. In any event, this perpetuated big-man control of shells and thus social inequality between men as well as between men and women, while permitting big-men to increase their status through exchange.

This domination of shells by big-men did not survive the colonial period, as the Australians saturated the Highlands, and eventually the Anganen economy, with shells, and “democratised” access to them among adult men. This had telling consequences for Anganen exchange (Nihill 1989a). Exchange has generally flourished, involving more transactions, transactors, and wealth. This is true for ‘moka’ especially. Exchange histories and the view of the Anganen themselves, both suggest that the incidence and size of these exchanges have increased markedly in relatively recent times. “Democratisation” means all men can now participate, gaining prestige in accord with their efforts. This is a likely reason for the inclusion of live pigs in ‘moka’. Pigs are the most valuable single unit of wealth conventionally transacted in exchange, and in an attempt to maintain their prominence and distinction vis-à-vis others now participating, big-men introduced these animals into the exchange event. 11

The introduction into ‘moka’ of money and its increasing availability have had similar effects to that of pearl-shells, causing an overall efflorescence of exchange, and permitting more deft manipulation due to high numeration. Money can be transacted in extremely subtle amounts, a flexibility not offered by pigs for instance. The flexibility which money permits is most apparent in ‘moka’. In most exchange events, the preferred denomination is the pearl-shell-type red K20 note. However, any note (though never coins) can be involved in ‘moka’.


The inclusion of pigs in ‘moka’ exchange has given women some opportunity of influence, although, somewhat ironically, as a means of ‘finance’ this has undermined a woman's influence gained through ‘home production’ as well. Pearl-shell inflation has also had some impact on the role of women in ‘moka’, as men are less interested in monopolising this wealth largely because of the prominence of cash in contemporary exchange. In events where women actually receive wealth due to their mediational role or as ‘proxy’ for their husbands, they are generally expected to pass this on to men. However, on occasion, the “strongest” do not, retaining the wealth for their own purposes.

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The cases I know of where women managed to do this with pearl-shells involved two highly respected widows. All the shells received were quickly channelled back into exchange. One widow decided to maximise her exchange involvement, placing one or two in a number of exchange events which concerned her kin or coresidents. The other woman, Maria, used them in only one exchange, with the whole six in her possession going as aropowe pertaining to her husband to the Farata people, the yandare in his death. Although this occurred before the mission arrived at Det, the ‘moka’ began only in the 1970s, with Maria receiving 12 shells as a pe in 1984.

Maria is notable for the extent to which she has engaged as a transactor in exchange, and this is acknowledged by men and women alike. The arrival of the mission has assisted her in this regard, as it has provided some opportunity for employment for women. Maria is known as a hard worker, obtaining work at the Det Primary School and Health Centre. Some of the money she has earned has gone to buying animals suitable for exchange. In fact, she is the only woman to have bought cassowaries and a cow, feats that many men have not been able to emulate. Mostly, however, she has bought piglets that she has reared, and used in exchange when full-grown. Significantly, many were transacted in her name, and this, too, was publicly acknowledged.

Not only did Maria give aropowe, she also ‘made moka’. Keke, a coresident Ongulamuri man, offered Maria an aropowe in lieu of her late husband, a Ronge man who had assisted Keke when he immigrated to Ronge territory following fighting in the lower Mendi. There is nothing unusual in this: those that give aropowe in warfare-related ‘moka’, often receive it in kin-based ones. What is unusual, of course, is the gender factor, as women do not transact pigs and shells in their own names as a rule: despite material effects in other ways, pigs and shells have essentially reproduced the ‘traditional’ pattern. Rather, the widespread emergence of women as acknowledged transactors is a consequence of women having access to money, primarily due to coffee, and, because of this, mainly married women are involved.

The exchanges in which women figure most are those which pertain to injury and death. 12 Women may give small amounts of cash in compensation, especially in nonwarfare ambula kala (although this may be a product of increasing money availability in a setting where warfare exchanges are rarely undertaken). They also often contribute to the omana mortuary feasts of their coresidents or natal kin, buying tinned fish and providing vegetables which are cooked in the earth ovens. Men may also buy tinned goods, although they now prefer to buy ‘freezer meat’, a more prestigious item. Women feel it is important that they be involved and, moreover, they invite whom they wish to attend and allocate the food to them. As with men's participation, the contributor has control over - 57 distribution. Women are also involved in ‘moka’ although in the main far less notably than either men or exceptional cases concerning women like Maria. The following examples give a broader picture of the involvement of women, with the last case, by far, the most representative.

The death of a Pit big-man through sorcery initiated widespread hostilities in 1981. The Pombadl and Wepenumb villagers, the “base of the fight”, enlisted the support of their allies to the south. To the yandare's pleasure, one group, the Muri of Arunda, took it upon themselves to recruit the Kopa people to their south-west. The Pit were obligated to compensate a number of allies' deaths. As a result of this and destruction or theft by the enemy, the yandare reluctantly reneged on compensating for a Kopa man whose death was attributed to the fight. This seriously threatened the alliance, and, because of this and their own active role in recruiting the Kopa, the Muri decided to offer compensation: even though they were not the yandare in a strict sense, vis-à-vis the Kopa they acted very much in this capacity, and thus it was fitting that they saw redress take place.

The Muri and Kopa have heavily intermarried, and a number of in-married Kopa women were most eager for their kinsman's death to be compensated. Other women married into Muri offered support. Together, these women contributed some K160 of a total rinkiti of some 6pigs, 24pearl-shells and K500. While the compensation was presented in total to the principal men of the Kopa, with the actual redistribution formally their affair alone, the desire of the Arunda women for some of their wealth to go to the women of Kopa to ease their grief was well known, and the Kopa men obliged. Thus, although the givers cannot really direct who will be the recipients of the wealth they have contributed, this exchange was, in part, conceptually a group of women transacting with another group of women.

The Arunda offer to assist was contingent upon the amount of compensation being repaid with increment when the yandare was in a better position to do so. While this could have been classed as a general debt, all considered the rinkiti effectively equalled an aropowe from Muri to Pit, typifying mortuary exchange flexibility. When the a pe was given, women again figured notably. The in-married women of the villages, together with some out-married Pit women, took it upon themselves to give the a pe for the Muri women's contribution to the rinkiti/‘aropowe’. They did so to acknowledge and thank the Muri and to recognise especially the involvement of the Arunda women. At the same time as their husbands and brothers presented the a pe to the Muri men, the women gave theirs to the Arunda women. As there is much more scope for directing in ‘moka’, these women actually presented the wealth to the women of Arunda, although no internal directing between specific individual women took place. The total a pe was 12 pigs and over K1,000, with the women transacting K400 - 58 plus some tinned fish, rice and flour (prestige goods but, as food, ones which also imbue a subtle femininity and particularity to their involvement). 13 In all, some 40 women were involved from each side.

The second case is typical of the involvement of women in ‘moka’. A Ronge man of Sek village, Mark, badly cut his hand. While at the Det health centre for treatment, he was spotted by a big-man and his two wives from nearby Wolamesa. They expressed their regret, and, following his treatment, offered the injured man aropowe to express their sorrow and ‘make the man happy’. The big-man presented K100, while each of his wives gave K10.

On his return home, Mark offered some of the money to his coresidents on the condition they repay it in double when it was time. Six male agnates and two male coresident nonagnates agreed. Seven coresident women also offered him small aropowe, ranging from K2 to K10, to express their regret. All the women were in-married, although unmarried female agnates could also have been involved had they wished. One of these was the injured man's wife. Interestingly, she also agreed to some of the responsibility to repay her husband's a pe by accepting K10 of the aropowe. These arrangements were private and not generally widely known, similar to the informal way men help a brother by accepting a share of large aropowe, but in contrast with the public nature of women in the Muri ‘moka’.

On the basis of only the few ‘moka’ in which women have actively participated in Anganen, it is extremely difficult to generalise to a single representative pattern of their involvement. Indeed, there is no reason to assume that a single pattern adequately covers the range of participation whatever: while both are women, the difference between, say, Maria and one of the women who invested K2 is quite graphic, meaning it is not easy to delineate ‘women’ as a single category, and to do so would be potentially misleading. Moreover, especially given the recent historical emergence of women as transactors in these exchanges, any static model is equally likely to misrepresent the situation. Nonetheless, some points can be suggested.

The structure of the social relations which are the basis of female involvement in ‘moka’ reflects a similar pattern to male participation, although with some interesting variation. Marriage is central to all male involvement in this exchange. Kin-based exchanges hinge on marital alliance, with affines, matrilateral kinsmen and so on comprising the mainstay of any man's partners. Similarly, because marital and political alliance are closely linked, groups that intermarry also ‘make warfare ‘moka’ with each other.

Women largely follow a similar pattern, giving wealth to the same categories of individuals, often even the same men or their wives, with whom their husbands exchange. With the warfare ‘moka’, women joined their husbands in offering and accepting wealth, men primarily transacting with men and women - 59 with women. In the smaller injury-related event, a man's two wives presented aropowe at the same time as he did. Married women largely share the same interests as their husbands in maintaining exchange relations with neighbours and kin, and political alliance which fosters community harmony. Thus, women transact with those in nearby, intermarrying groups, or with their male coresidents, their husbands or those he calls ‘brother’, affinal kinsmen from a woman's perspective.

In connecting men in social relations which underpin exchange partnerships, Anganen married women are classically ‘in between’ (cf. M. Strathern 1972). This also impinges on the structure of female exchange participation. The Sek women transacted with a male coresident. This included Mark's own wife, an affine no doubt. However, this woman also agreed to share the burden of the a pe repayments, illustrating a close relation and a certain commonality of interests in a way similar to brothers. In other words, Mark's wife both ‘shared’ and ‘exchanged’, acting both like an affine and like a coresident and agnate.

The ambiguity of married women is also realised in exchanges between women and their natal kin. Some of the women involved in the warfare ‘moka’ are affinally related to each other, while some of the two opposing exchange units would have been clan sisters. Some of the rinkiti given to the Kopa was shared among the men, who would have been the clan brothers of Kopa women married and living at Arunda. It is totally acceptable for married women to engage in these exchanges with their natal kin. In one respect, this is just an extension of the mediating role of women in other events, except that they pass on their own wealth rather than wealth from men. In another respect, however, women directly exchanging with natal kin contrasts with the normative expression of agnatic relations. Men should not ‘make moka’ with their clansmen (and often this is extended to include long-term coresident nonagnates as well, as the relation between them is conceptually one of brotherhood). Fraternal ideology stresses sharing and co-operation in exchange, and not the, albeit ideally harmonious, opposition inherent in transaction between those whose relations are mediated by women and marriage. Directly ‘making moka’ with brothers is regarded as a clear signal of opposition and displeasure, a symbolic and temporary denouncement of fraternity. The same connotation is not placed on the similar exchanges between women and their (male and female) agnates, and these are always interpreted in a positive light.

The structure of female participation in ‘moka’ partly replicates the pivotal position of marriage in sociopolitical relations, but the structural ambiguity of married women means this is expressed as a tension between association with natal or affinal kin. It also offers married women the opportunity to choose free of much of the constraint under which men morally act. Theoretically, a woman - 60 can engage in exchange with anyone in her social network: men or women, affines, agnates, coresidents or neighbours. Men, by contrast, are all but excluded from forming partnerships with their brothers. In general terms, ‘moka’ is a form of exchange which escapes much of the structural constraint inherent in mundane exchange in Anganen, allowing more scope for individual manipulation. Somewhat surprisingly, in structural terms and potentiality at least, this is even more the case with women than men.

The point is that this potential for manipulation for women has not been realised in practice. The two women who have figured most notably as individual transactors in exchange are both widows, and widowhood itself seems significant. Women can retain much of their social standing as part of a prominent household even after the death of their husbands, receiving wealth in exchange distributions, for instance, which would have gone to their husbands were they still alive. The role of widows is usually symbolic: wealth from men to men via women. In some instances, however, widows can manage to hold on to the wealth they receive. Such occurrences are fostered by certain biographic particulars, such as sons away from the village on wage labour migration. However, much of the impetus for this stems directly from the woman herself: the obvious point is that not all widows have achieved the renown of these two women. The two widows with ‘names’ are said to be ‘strong women’. Both women have social acclaim in other spheres of activity, such as gardening, pig-rearing, one is a prominent trader at the local produce market, and so on. Both are ama ren, ‘big woman’, a term denoting substantial status, though one qualitatively different from ama, ‘big man’, which is founded virtually on exchange alone.

‘Strength’ in Anganen is a quintessentially ‘male’ quality. In the case of the two widows, gender concepts are used to reflect individual capacity irrespective of the sex of the actor, just in the same way that weak men are ‘like women’' (e.g., see Nihill 1989a). With the major manifestation of strength being the control of wealth and its deft use in exchange, big-men are thus ‘strong’ by definition.

Not even the ‘strongest’ Anganen woman has yet to emulate the capacity of, albeit only some, Anganen men in manipulating the wealth of others. Although women do negotiate loans of cash with each other (which should be repaid with increment), no direct individual ‘moka’ has taken place between two women. The Wepenumb and Pombadl women did not direct a pe, though they could legitimately have done so. Nor has any woman sponsored her own event, manipulating the wealth of others to her own ends, the hallmark of big-men. Women mostly transact small amounts of wealth with men, either singularly or by supporting men in exchanges they sponsor. While Maria did ‘make moka’ (with a man) in her own name, this is exceptional among women, and the amount involved was small compared with highly competitive male exchange.

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In other words, the common participation of women in ‘moka’ is one essentially defined and largely articulated by men, and, except in the most exceptional of cases, women are largely denied the political value of participating. This is especially so as individuals. The Arunda, Wepenumb and Pombadl women did reap public acclaim but as groups, not individuals. Even this is uncommon. In most cases, the involvement of women is largely unknown in the wider community. When they give aropowe as individuals, not even all the members of their local groups may hear of it, as these tend to be private arrangements. So, too, are the negotiations by which men gain supporters in ‘moka’ which they sponsor: the public presentation of the wealth is in the leader's name. The general point is that the efforts of women as transactors in exchange tend to be subsumed in the interests of men, returning at best limited prestige from the public gaze.

The emergence of an ideology of women acting as transactors in exchange is important, all the more so given that both men and women recognise the new role women can play. However, this ideology tends to disguise the persisting political marginalisation of women. From a material viewpoint alone, the involvement of women in exchange through the transaction of money appears little different from the pre-existing situation of home-produced pigs: while in both instances it may be felt that women are critically involved in exchange, their wealth or the products of their labour is ultimately used by men in the pursuit of their own ambition. As in exchange generally, men, and not women, reap by far most political value, in public acclaim, signalling political messages to others, and ultimately controlling wealth. Ideology—women as wealth owners truly acting with volition and control in exchange transactions—thus may serve the interests of men in the long run.

Despite material similarities, the critical difference is that, with home-produced pigs, women are onlookers with some influence; but with cash, women are marginalised transactors of small amounts of wealth. In both, women are essentially peripheral, achieving little political gain in their own right, but in terms of the meaning attached to the respective actions, the two are definitely not the same. In the case of women transacting cash in exchange, qualitatively (although not quantitatively) women are much like many men in ‘moka’. With the increasing incidence of sponsored ‘moka’, big-men subordinate both women and men into their affairs, with supporting ordinary men thus ‘like women’.

Briefly, this is indicative of another emergent development concerning the relationship between social inequality and material forces. Unlike the inflation of pearl-shells and the initial advent of money which tended to reduce the social inequality between adult men, the increasing centralisation of money in exchanges such as the popular individual-sponsored ‘moka’ and the growing importance of - 62 bisnis, are heightening economic and political differentiation. Bisnis is now very popular, especially among younger men. In some respects, it and exchange now rival each other as the major objects of men's wealth, with a small but growing proportion of men arguing that exchange is wasteful and bisnis productive, financially and for prestige. Bisnis in Anganen is dominated by men, with the growing shift of men to it accompanied by a roughly corresponding incorporation of women into exchange.

Josephides (1984:41; cf. M. Strathem 1987:14–5) argues that an ideology of the male dominance of women obscures antagonisms and inequalities between men. This is clearly the case in Anganen where big-men can render others ‘like women’. In the first period of pronounced inequality among men, big-men monopolised shells, while in the second they control exchange and bisnis. The degree of social inequality between men seems to have come full circle. However, as with the altered means of subordinating women, being ‘like women’ in these two historical periods is not the same: in the precolonial period young men may have been forced to act like women as producers; in present-day Anganen society, ordinary men may be forced to act like women as transactors. Simultaneously, this ideology obscures the possible difference among women. The ama ren Maria is the obvious example. Her exceptional exchange performance is atypical, but it also underscores the differentiation possible within the category women. Gender constructs like strength and weakness, intelligence or stupidity, being ‘like a man’ or ‘like women’' express this differentiation and hierarchy within social categories which the blanket statements of ideology obscure, without, in this case, ever threatening the premises on which those ideologies are built. Such differentiation is especially pronounced in contemporary Anganen with social change leading to increased inequality among women, as well as among men, and between men and women generally.


In some respects, the Anganen situation is highly reminiscent of Melpa with the emergence of women as transactors of money in moka, an occurrence which “shows, in embryonic form, the development of independent female action in exchange, resulting from women's special position in the new cash economy and transcending the producer/transactor division between the sexes” (A. Strathem 1982:313). Feil (1987:283) uses this as an example of how money augments what he sees as the already high status of women in the Western Highlands. While it is misleading to extract exchange from the full picture concerning social change and women, the reproduction of male centrality and female marginality in Anganen, with women generally denied the political value their wealth may bring in exchange, would seem to contradict this.

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The structure and causes of social inequality in a society such as Anganen are complex matters indeed, all the more so given the, at times, radical changes wrought by the colonial presence and beyond. In the main, I have concentrated on only a narrow range of factors which largely pertain to only one sphere of activity, ‘moka’ exchange. This fundamental complexity of inequality in a setting of historical change is further underscored if a comparative perspective is taken. Even in a relatively small range of societies, be it the Highlands, the Southern Highlands, the Mendic language subfamily of the Southern Highlands, or whatever, great variation is possible, despite seemingly obvious cultural (patriliny, virilocality, male control of land, and so on) and historical similarities.

The responses of Eastern Highland (Sexton 1982, 1984, 1986; Warry 1985) and Anganen women to the situation prevailing in the colonial period are markedly different. Like the recent emergence of Anganen women into exchange, Eastern Highland women now participate in exchange through wok meri, women's savings and exchange co-operatives (organisations which significantly integrate what are essentially distinct conceptual domains in Anganen, bisnis and exchange). Not only do these engage in money-making enterprises (loans, investments), but also the scale and corporate nature of the female-run enterprises are unknown in Anganen. Sexton (1986) maintains that these have flourished as a deliberate objection on the part of women to the control and wasteful use (beer, cards, etc.) of money by men. The social structure of wok meri is complex indeed. Here it is sufficient to note that fictive kin relations are generated between women which effectively preclude men (Warry 1985:32); that wok meri promotes regional integration across clan boundaries (p.31); and, in part as a consequence, the groups stress harmony and co-operation among themselves, in contrast with the inherent political opposition of clans in exchange (p.33).

In Anganen, women have reacted to the new set of material conditions by entering ‘moka’ in a small way. It is true that, on rare occasions such as the Muri warfare ‘moka’, women can act as a unity. The women involved came from a far greater number of clans than the men, and at all times they emphasised their harmony and empathy with the recipients of their wealth, in contrast with the hostility and opposition forever possible in exchanges between groups of men: the Muri ‘moka’, for example, was not preceded by ol kope, the constrained but aggressive dance associated with group a pe. Even here, though, the unity of women was not as a direct political opposition to men; indeed, any such statements tend to be muted, such as the actions of women at marriage (see note 12, Nihill 1989b).

Indeed, for the most part, involvement in exchange has served to atomise women, as the participation is very much vis-à-vis individual men. In most cases, - 64 this serves the interests of men and patri-group units, while legitimating exchange and with it the directing of large amounts of wealth by men in it. This last point holds true despite the occasional remarks of both women and men that exchange can be wasteful, and that money, in particular, could be better used. Certainly, the necessity for men to recognise the political value of women, as has happened in the Eastern Highlands in order to facilitate desired economic development (Warry 1985:37), has not taken place in Anganen: women are still peripheral to the political arena. The contrast between the Eastern Highlands and Anganen seems all the more significant because of the positive ideological value which women, and often men as well, place on these responses and the conceived volitional nature of participation in the respective areas.

Perhaps this variation is not surprising given the distance between the two regions and far greater “contact” history of the Eastern Highlands. However, a great deal of variation and difference can be found between the Anganen and their north-eastern neighbours, the Mendi. While Mendi women, just like their Anganen counterparts, are excluded from the large-scale, clan-organised, and highly politically-charged ceremonial exchange, unlike Anganen women but like Mendi men, they can actively operate in the ego-centred networks of gift credit and debt, twem (Lederman 1986). This is not the product of the introduction of money, having existed in precolonial days. These two forms of exchange, ego-centred versus clan-oriented, can in fact operate in a complementary fashion, but often they do not: there is the potential for conflict between principles, and this is frequently manifested in outright conflict in practice.

The conflict in exchange can be one of opposition between men, especially big-men (who are the main organisers of ceremonial exchange) and others (Lederman 1987). Alternatively, the interests of men and women can be in conflict, with women in particular reluctant to join in clan-based enterprises, choosing their twem partnerships instead. Indeed, in a manner reminiscent of Sexton's (1986) conclusions about wok meri, Lederman (1989) suggests that this opposition can be so intense that the Mendi cultural order is in fact contested, not shared, between men and women with respect to the emphasis placed on these exchange forms.

Lederman goes to some length to indicate that the involvement of women in twem presents them with social and political opportunity commensurate with that of men. The essential difference in male and female participation is one of degree, not form. As such, there is little structural force to promote exchange among groups of women to the exclusion of men. Although Anganen women are now emulating their Mendi counterparts to a degree, Mendi is very much the inverse of Anganen: for Anganen women, transacting is a new phenomenon, and - 65 their participation tends to be marginalised, subsumed, or unrecognised due to its largely nonpublic quality. The value Mendi women get from exchange participation is fundamental to Lederman's (1989) observation that the position of Mendi women is “stronger” than in societies to the north such as Enga or Melpa. It also seems that this applies to those cultures to the south, given my discussion of Anganen, and this is supported by Josephides' (1985a, 1985b) discussions of Kewa gender and political hierarchy as well, where it seems that women are totally precluded from exchange participation, unlike Anganen, where control over wealth, notably money, can allow women to act as transactors in some events.

The position of Mendi women is also stronger than it was a generation ago, according to Lederman (1989), due to the response of the Mendi to new material conditions. Two crucial points in this are the access women have to cash and the incorporation of money into gift exchange. Lederman (MS) lists four main areas of income in Mendi: gifts, vegetable sales, wage and labour services, and retail sales. The first two of these are very much open to women. Their involvement in twem is sustained with money, and women dominate selling at the large market in Mendi. In 1983, men received about 50 per cent more income than women. However, in comparison with Anganen, where the average income per household seems roughly equivalent but an estimated ratio of 5:1 in favour of men is more indicative, this ratio highlights a relative democratisation of access to money in Mendi.

Given the complexity of the issue, it would be extremely difficult to delineate any precise reasons for these variations. The specific structure of the precolonial order (e.g., twem in Mendi but not elsewhere); the particular influence of the colonial order and missionaries (e.g., see Josephides 1985, Sexton 1986, Warry 1985); particular historical, material, and geographic factors such as closeness to roads facilitating the operation of transport and trade-stores or the selling of coffee, or closeness to urban centres with opportunities for wage employment, climatic conditions which favour cash cropping, and so on— would all need to be considered.

However, even with such uncertainty as background, one of the most apparent differences between Mendi and Anganen is the reliance of the Anganen on coffee for income and its absence in the Upper Mendi (high altitude, frosts, etc.) in tandem with significant vegetable-marketing by women. Labour investment allowed Anganen women access to money and ‘moka’. Simultaneously, however, the persistence of the notion of male ownership of land and thus the bulk of the income secured through coffee sales, reinforced and reproduced male dominance. While this could critically hinge on the relatively recent opportunity - 66 women have had to control wealth and engage in exchange, with their minor participation only beginning and heralding far greater involvement and power, indications are that this is not the case.

Male domination of money is instrumental in the emergence of male-dominated bisnis. Men, usually in co-operatives based on subclan, clan or kindred affiliations, own trade stores and passenger vehicles, run beer clubs—indeed, any major form of new economic enterprise is under male supervision. Women's bisnis, by contrast, is small-scale, the selling of vegetables at the Det market, for instance, with women dealing in 10t and 20t coins. Women are not culturally precluded from large bisnis. Rather, women simply lack the financial resources to enter such enterprises. Bisnis is becoming extremely popular. It is now a basis for inequality, building on and simultaneously transforming existing notions of big-man. Though prominent men in bisnis are also very likely to figure in exchange, bisnis is becoming the most prestigious and powerful economic activity in Anganen, undermining the virtual exclusivity which exchange has commanded. A situation similar to the precolonial order is emerging: through bisnis, big-men are increasingly able to control both men and women, in a way similar to the virtual monopoly they wielded over pearl-shells before the arrival of the Australians. The emergence of women as transactors in exchange is significant. However, they are now at the base of a prestige structure being superseded by bisnis in a setting of growing social inequality.

- 67 Page of endnotes

- 68
  • Feil, D. K., 1987. The Evolution of Highland Societies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Josephides, L., 1984. Big Men, Great Men, Producers and Women: Exploring Dimensions of Power and Inequality in the New Guinea Highlands. Bikmaus, 5: 41-6.
  • —— 1985a. The Production of Inequality: Gender and Exchange among the Kewa. London: Tavistock.
  • —— 1985b. Bulldozers and Kings; or Talk, Name, Group and Land: a Kewa Political Palindrome, in Women in Politics in Papua New Guinea. Working Paper 6:6-18. Canberra: Department of Political and Social Change.
  • Lederman, R., 1986. What Gifts Engender: Social Relations and Politics in Mendi, Highland Papua New Guinea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • —— 1987. Interests in Exchange: Mendi Big-men in Context. Paper presented at the “Great Men and Big-men” workshop, Paris, 1987.
  • ——1989. Contested Order: Gender and Society in the Southern New Guinea Highlands. American Ethnologist, 15:230-447.
  • —— MS. ‘Making Money’ in Mendi. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Anthropology, Princeton University.
  • Nihill, M.W., 1986. Roads of Presence: Exchange and Social Relatedness in Anganen Social Structure. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Adelaide.
  • —— 1988a. ‘Worlds at War with Themselves’: Notions of the Antisociety in Anganen Ceremonial Exchange. Oceania, 58: 255-74.
  • —— 1988b. The ‘Two Men’ of Anganen Exchange: Structure and Concepts of the Individual in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Mankind 18:146-60.
  • —— 1989a. The New Pearlshells: Aspects of the Meaning of Money in Anganen Exchange, in C. J. Healey (ed.), Development and Underdevelopment in Papua New Guinea. To be published as a special edition of Canberra Anthropology.
  • ——1989b. The Bride Wore Black: Aspects of Anganen Marriage and Its Meaning. Forthcoming in Social Analysis.
  • ——MS.Beyond Bodies: Metaphors and Meaning in Anganen Mortuary Exchange. Unpublished manuscript, Department of Anthropology, University of Adelaide.
  • Ryan, D., 1961. Gift Exchange in the Mendi Valley. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, University of Sydney.
  • Schwimmer, E., 1979. The Self and the Product: Concepts of Work in Comparative Perspective, in S. Wallman (ed.), Social Anthropology of Work. London: Academic, pp. 287-316.
  • Sexton, L. D., 1982. Wok Meri: a Woman's Saving and Exchange System in Highland Papua New Guinea. Oceania 52:167-98.
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  • ——1984. Pigs, Pearlshells and ‘Women's Work’: Collective Response to Change in Highland Papua New Guinea, in D. O'Brien and S. Tiffany (eds), Rethinking Women's Roles. Los Angeles: University of California Press, pp.120-52.
  • —— 1986. Mothers of Money, Daughters of Coffee: The ‘Wok Meri’ Movement. Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press.
  • Strathern, A. J., 1971. The Rope of Moka: Big Men and Ceremonial Exchange in Mt Hagen, New Guinea. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • ——1978. ‘Finance and Production’ Revisited: In Pursuit of a Comparison. Research in Economic Anthropology 1:73-104.
  • ——1982. The Division of Labour and Processes of Social Change in Mount Hagen. American Ethnologist, 9:307-19.
  • Strathern, A. M., 1972. Women in Between: Female Roles in a Male World. London: Seminar Press.
  • ——1981. Self-interest and the Social Good: Some Implications of Hagen Gender Imagery, in S. Ortner and H. Whitehead (eds), Sexual Meanings: The Cultural Construction of Gender and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp.166-191.
  • —— 1987. Introduction, in M. Strathern (ed.), Dealing with Inequality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • ——1988. The Gender of the Gift: Problems with Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia. Berkeley: University of California Press.
  • Warry, W., 1985. Politics of a New Order: the Kafaina Movement, in Women and Politics in Papua New Guinea. Working Paper 6. Canberra: Department of Political and Social Change, pp.26-38.
- 70
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1   This paper is based on 25 months' research during the periods 1981–2 and 1987–8, generously funded by the University of Adelaide. Thanks go to the various provincial and national government bodies, with my deepest gratitude going to the Anganen people for their patience and friendship. I am also deeply indebted to Leanne Merrett for her substantial assistance.
2   Coffee sales figures are not included because of the unreliability of my data. The Anganen are most reticent to divulge financial information, if for no other reason than their belief that secrecy limits the claims of kin if one is relatively wealthy. The empirical data from those informants I think are most reliable are used in part to base conclusions on the changing status of money holdings in Anganen.
3   This time factor in a woman's labour can be a point of contention. A man may claim that pigs which have recently entered the household through “finance” are the result of his exchange ability, not his wife's production, enabling him to have total control over them (see Nihill 1988b). This is a feature of ‘moka’ discussed below.
4   Just before a man kills his pigs in yasolu, he should give his wife or wives wealth in a prestation called inj yari. While this can be quite substantial, perhaps K100, it is never the market value of the pigs these women have raised. Ostensibly it is given to publicly acknowledge female input in a successful yasolu, but it may also be seen as providing men with autonomy which enhances male prestige (Nihill 1988a, 1988b).
5   I readily admit the focus of this discussion is extremely limited, and that being ‘mother’ of a pig or garden is thought to be significant in the well-being and growth of these things, irrespective of political purpose. In other words, ‘mother’ has meaning beyond political power. Such considerations are beyond the narrow scope of this paper.
6   As a good illustration of the problem of trying to explicate formal rules, in practice these concepts can be contradictory, as men residing uxorilocally usually emphasise that they are men ara, even though they do not own the land. In fact, their wives rarely contest these statements. Rather, men, usually at the height of some dispute, may claim that uxorilocal men do not really own their pigs, although I have never heard of permanent alienation because of this.
7   Sexton does not treat land in this way. She notes (1986:61) that the alienation of land is possible, if usually resisted, but gives no indication how money from land sales is reditributed, e.g., whether agnatic women receive a share. The only case of land alienation in Anganen concerned the Capuchin mission station at Det previously owned by the Aramuri clan. The Aramuri received a large number of shells, sharing them among themselves and giving some to their sister's sons. Agnatic Aramuri women, however, received none in their own right.
8   There is a significant correspondence and possible causal relation between the labour invested by either men or women and the ascription of either “male” or “female” to the product. The notion of kele supports this, but also implies that the labour of one sex, notably women, may be denied recognition because of the work done by men. The “male” pork-sides of yasoluare a case in point (Nihill 1988a, 1989b). Moreover, a simple notion of the embodiment of self as male or female tends to obscure the expression of the value of things re gender, irrespective of men and women as social actors, one of the points of this article. First and foremost, to say a thing is male or female is a menas of classification and value assignation.
9   There is no formal procedure preventing women from planting coffee in their natal territories, though virilocality is an obvious factor militating against it. When asked, men suggested that women lack the intelligence needed for managing coffee. Of course, to interpret their absence in terms of innate weakness suggests that this can never change, and, as Josephides (1985b: 10) notes in Kewa, obscures the structural features which force women to the periphery. My own impression is that women are not overly interested in solo coffee projects,and very much accept male overseers.
10   Many of the loans women make to men, usually kin or coresidents, are never repaid, let alone reciprocated with poke, increment, as they should be. Men often treat such loans as gifts (as expressions of kinship), and these do not amount to debts. If a man fails to repay, there is little a woman can do, especially given the likelihood the loan was arranged privately. She could attempt to publicly shame him, but the close social relation between the parties renders this improbable.
11   This may seem tautological, but is should be noted that the historical exclusion of pigs from ‘moka’ is a product of culture, not male strategy, while their subsequent inclusion could well have resulted from the intentions of big-men in trying to maintain a social inequality which privileges them.
12   This begs an obvious question of why women are involved in exchanges pertaining to death, rather than mundane exchange more generally. They occasionally do help their sons raise bride-wealth, but once again this primarily concerns a woman's pigs. Marriage ultimately subordinates women to male interest, and the collective ‘rebellious’ nature of women before the marriage ceremony can be seen as a statement of opposition by women as a group to male control, virilocality, and so on (Nihil 1989b). Not assisting with marriage payments is consistent with this, as women do not legitimate the actions of men at marriage. Women also play important roles in mortuary practice, especially in the prolonged keening over the corpse. A death in the community is ultimately everyone's loss, and women appear to be stating this in their participation in mortuary exchange events. ‘Moka’ is also a somewhat vague exchange in that it transcends much of the logic of mundane exchange which critically concerns women, re reproduction (Nihill 1989b). Ironically, this distancing of women as mothers, may have granted women the opportunity to act as transactors.
13   Also see Warry (1985:33), who notes the importance of domestic symbols in wok meri.