Abstract

The late prehistoric period is crucial to the study of anthropology, as the area of Island Melanesia has provided the world with one of its great anthropological stereotypes, the "Big Man" society. This was developed by Sahlins (1963) on the basis of Oliver's (1955) ethnography of the Siwai of southern Bougainville as observed during the late 1930s. It has led to a gross ethnographic oversimplification of Melanesia as having Big Man societies, contrasted with Polynesia having chiefly societies. Where chiefs were found in Melanesia, their presence has often been interpreted as a cultural borrowing under Polynesian influence (Spriggs 1993 : 198).

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-8283
Print ISSN
0066-8435
Pages
pp. 284-296
Launched on MUSE
2003-02-14
Open Access
No
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