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ABOVE AND BELOW AMONG MAINLANDERS AND SALTWATER PEOPLE IN BUKA, BOUGAINVILLE

  • Author(s): Schneider, Katharina
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License
Abstract

This article draws on ethnographic field research in Buka, Bougainville, in order to address the question of multiple models in spatial orientation and the factors that constrain their relative salience. With respect to different Polynesian settings (Tonga and Samoa), Bradd Shore has suggested that a preference for allocentric models may be linked to pronounced social hierarchies. However, findings from other settings (Taumako) indicate that matters may be more complicated. Within the Buka area, I suggest that the relative salience of allocentric and egocentric radiality is connected to people’s relative position in local hierarchies. “Mainlanders,” who are located “above” in terms of local social hierarchies, rely more strongly on allocentric models, compared to “saltwater people” who are located further “below” and prefer to use egocentric models. I link this finding to the contrast between “mainland” and “saltwater” subsistence activities and show how “mainlanders” adopt a system of allocentric spatial orientation in their everyday activities of gardening, while spatial orientation during “saltwater people’s” fishing activities is strongly egocentric.

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