chapter
African models of social structure
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The New Guinea Highlands, which had the last substantial unstudied populations in the world, were opened up after the war, and the 1950s and 1960s saw a huge growth of anthropological research in this part of Melanesia. The preoccupation of anthropology at the time with the study of *kinship and *social organization was reflected in this early postwar research, much of which was concerned with understanding Highland *social structure. Some studies (e.g. Meggitt 1965) sought to apply to the Highlands models of African †segmentary lineage systems, and to correlate variations in the apparent ‘strength’ of †patriliny in different Highland societies with factors such as land shortage. A number of important later analyses of kinship and social structure, drawing on *LéviStrauss and *alliance theory, constructed models in which †reciprocity figured as the central principle, positing exchange as the distinctively Melanesian equivalent of the principle of *descent in Africa (e.g. Forge 1972).