1 Pigmanship in the New Guinea Highlands
DOI link for 1 Pigmanship in the New Guinea Highlands
1 Pigmanship in the New Guinea Highlands book
If there is one topic of conversation heard throughout New Guinea with all its fabled cultural variety it is pigs in my experience. Nearly everyone has something to say about pigs. Many ethnographers will be familiar with comments in Pidgin such as ‘Pik i namba wan samting bilong mipela’: ‘Pigs are the ﬁrst thing to us’. Yet strangely enough the ethnography of the region is largely silent on issues surrounding pig management, with some notable exceptions (see Pospisil 1963: 203-18; Rappaport 1968; Hide 1981; Boyd 1984, 1985; Kelly 1988; Dwyer 1993). We have taken pig-keeping for granted, and made some poorly substantiated assumptions about the structure of herds, their ecological relations and their control. These are not new observations. In the early 1970s Hughes opened a paper on pigs commenting that the social and religious aspects had been studied ‘more frequently and in more detail than the economic aspects, and the widest gaps in our knowledge concern the animals’ place in the subsistence economy’ (1970: 272), and Vayda (1972: 907) concluded an encyclopaedia entry on pigs stressing the urgent need for research into pig husbandry.1 When we consider the cultural signiﬁcance of pigs and the prominent part they play in social life, the overlooking of their management seems a stark ethnographic omission.