Tikopia of Melanesia
Instructor Tawny Townsend
June 27, 2011
Tikopia of Melanesia
Tikopia of Melanesia has been through many different changes in their society. Agriculture also known as agricultural states is their primary mode of subsistence; you may also call them emerging agriculturalists. The island of Tikopia is lead by chiefs which are their traditional ritual leaders. “Chiefs are the economic focus in the Tikopian society”, (Nowak & Laird, 2010). Another name for Tikopians village or community would be chiefdom. In this paper you will read about how, Tikopia of Melanesia is different in their subsistence practices, social change, political organizations, and beliefs and values.
Tikopia practices a precise method of agriculture. Tikopians search for clear forests and dried swamps, which provide them with irrigated land, access to markets, and trade routes. The empty land allows control over resources. Technology also plays a part in their subsistence practices. “Technology may include intensive agriculture (for example, irrigation, terraces, and flood control) and trade infrastructure such as ships, ports, bridges, and roads. In addition, there may be ownership of technology, allowing for control over production and distribution”, (Nowak & Laird, 2010, p.146). Men mainly do the hard work, cleaning forests, building fences, and planting; the women do the gardening, take care of the children, and prepare food.
The women and men both play major roles in their subsistence practices. They use balanced reciprocal exchange and redistribution to transport goods and services. Balanced reciprocal exchange is exchange with an agreement with a return of an equivalent item or an item with a greater value. “Redistribution is tribute, or the products of families’ or individuals’ labor, is collected in a central location and then sorted, counted, and either stored or given away to producers and non producers”, (Nowak & Laird, 2010, p.149). The men build canoes in order to transport their goods and services. While agriculture is the subsistence base for chiefdoms as well as agricultural states, “clan chiefs are the traditional political and ritual leaders of the “clan”; they hypothetically own all the land, are key figures in production and distribution, and major agents of social control because as a result of missionary activities, the Tikopians have become Christianized, and ritual advisors are no longer import,” (Firth 1970). The way they survive their mode of subsistence, has an impact on their social change as well.
The change occurred slowly, but the Christian missionaries transformed the local population throughout Melanesia to Christianity. Over the next thirty years, all of the chiefs in Tikopia and their follower’s had been converted to Christianity; which changed the Tikopians culture forever. This conversion leads to hostility between the Christians and the traditional communities. The conversion to Christianity has changed a lot of things in the Chiefdom communities. In Tahiti, for example, they have had to change the way they know to live in order to make it with a new religion. The change has made their cultural values decease. The coming of Christianity has also changed their beliefs. It took away their dance, music, temples, wood carvings, and more. Not everyone has been able to accept the coming of Christianity into their culture which causes conflict among the people. I am using the etic perspective because I am on the outside looking in. I will never know what exactly goes on. I only know what I read about. In order to know what really goes on, I would have to experience what they have experienced. I could use the emic perspective about how the changing from their original beliefs has affected their lives. I know that any major changes of any sort can be hard...
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