Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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p. vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

This book has a very long history, starting as it did over thirty years ago when I first began my own voyaging to Micronesia. I have lived on and off with the family of Damian and Iulihda Primo on the farmstead Otoi, in the community known as Awak on Pohnpei, since 1974. More than anyone else, Damian and Iuli were responsible for drawing me back to the islands, and for all that I have ...

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Chapter 1 Introduction: A Perspective on Traditional Micronesian Life

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pp. 1-11

"Micronesia" is the name scientists have given to a vast expanse of islands in the central and western Pacific Ocean, and the people who live on these islands have long been called Micronesians. This is not, of course, their traditional name for themselves—indeed, they had none. At least some of them, though, being intrepid voyagers and skilled navigators, have always had a good sense of where...

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Chapter 2 Micronesia and Micronesians

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pp. 12-36

I would not have written an entire book about Micronesia if I did not believe that it existed—obviously, I do. But there are those who doubt Micronesia’s existence as a meaningful culture area (that is, a region characterized by a range of similar cultural practices; I discuss this concept at length below). Those who dismiss its validity or usefulness as a conceptual category, however, have for the most ...

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Chapter 3 The Prehistory of Micronesian Societies

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pp. 37-65

My interest in the original settlement and prehistory of the islands focuses not so much on what we have learned from potsherds, adzes, and fishhooks (that is, archaeology), on the one hand, or on vocabulary, sound systems or phonology, and syntax (that is, linguistics), on the other, as it does on the development of Micronesian patterns of social organization. As I have said, it is the interwoven ...

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Chapter 4 Descent and Descent Groups

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pp. 66-84

As in all human societies, the various elements of Micronesia’s societies— social, cultural, political, economic—are entirely enmeshed in one another, and separating these strands out from one another is really no more than a useful attempt at understanding them. I do have to begin somewhere, of course, and since one of the primary themes of this work is that Micronesia constitutes a coherent ...

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Chapter 5 Household and Family, Land and Labor

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pp. 85-124

The shared precepts of clanship linking Micronesia’s far-flung societies are offset by the roots that individuals and small groups have sunk into specific places. Micronesians’ ties to fellow clan members are matched in importance by their attachments to the lands they live on and farm, the communities in which they reside, and the islands they call home. It is no exaggeration to say that Microne-...

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Chapter 6 Chieftainship and Government

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pp. 125-157

This and the following chapter are about the broad sweep of political life in Micronesia. I have divided the topic in two primarily to make it more manageable. In this chapter I deal with what I am calling government, while in the next chapter I treat the overlapping spheres of political dynamics and leadership. The grounds upon which I distinguish between these grow out of my own experience; ...

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Chapter 7 Politics and Leadership

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pp. 158-186

I am distinguising between government and politics because even though Micronesian chiefs occupy reasonably well-defined offices, which can be appropriately viewed as island governments, politics permeate nearly every aspect of island lives. Micronesian political life is characterized by opposing pulls between quite inclusive participation in a community’s decision making, on the one hand, and ...

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Chapter 8 Aesthetics, Beliefs, Values, and Behavior

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pp. 187-212

This far I have focused almost entirely on institutions and processes—that is, on social organization—because my primary interest has been to show how Micronesian social groups, in particular the clans and lineages, provide the adaptive framework for survival in the islands. I have largely ignored other aspects of Micronesian culture. But there is a great more to life in the islands than the politics ...

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Chapter 9 Some Exceptions to the Pan-Micronesian Patterns

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pp. 213-225

I have organized this work around the many commonalities among Microne-sian societies, and most of it focuses on similar traits and practices. The societies of the Marshalls, the eastern and central Carolines, and Palau are alike in so many ways that I have drawn on them for most of my generalizations. But I have tried not to overlook the many significant differences among the islands either. There ...

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Chapter 10 Epilogue: Traditional Micronesian Societies and Modern Micronesian History

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pp. 226-234

Throughout this book I have emphasized both that traditional Micronesian societies have much in common and that each society has responded to historical conditions in its own way. Change has been frequent, if not continual, as communities learned new ways of doing things from their neighbors or pursued their ...

Notes

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pp. 235-248

References Cited

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pp. 249-268

Index

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p. 269