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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Community ideology and the ideology of community : the Orokaiva case Braun, Nickolai G.


"Community" is a word that suffuses Western discourse. Its use is widespread in both popular and in the more specialized languages of anthropology and sociology. Though rich in meaning, "community" is yet often employed to arbitrarily bind people together 'from the outside'. Thus 'a community', 'peasant communities', and so on, refer to bounded entities that are there. This thesis begins by taking community as a problem. For though we write easily .about, and easily apply, the concept of 'a community', the notion of being 'in community', taking community to refer, to a shared or common quality or state of being, is not so easily applied, let alone thought. What ivS therefore explored is a notion of community as a process, both generally and in relation to a particular Papua New Guinean people, the Orokaiva. As a process, community is taken to be 'emergent', rather than 'there'. "Community" is subsequently developed as an alternative paradigm of order to the descent-based models of Williams, Crocombe & Hogbin, Rimoldi and Schwimmer. The Orokaiva plant emblem, a central symbol of Orokaiva sociality, is focused on. Stemming from a notion of 'emergent community', the interrelated .problems of identification, affiliation, ideology, and context are selected and pursued in relation to the Orokaiva plant emblem. I follow McKellin's (1980) delineation of three ordering principles -- lineality, territoriality, and exchange/commen-sality -- from Managalase kinship ideology; these same three principles are shown to underlie some Orokaiva notions of plant emblem identification. Taking these ordering principles together with some Orokaiva notions of "substance", a complex of interrelated Orokaiva ideas is delineated. It is this ideational order which is hypothesized as constituting the ideational resources engaged in the indigenous rationalization of Orokaiva sociality. Some contexts generated by three events -- birth, marriage, and death -- are analysed in the light of that complex of ideas termed an 'ideology of community'. Referred to as 'contexts for community' , they suggest some of the possible ways in-which the ideational order is utilized to close the ambiguities of sociality and make the phenomenological dimension of "community" visible. Reliant upon the ethnographic work of others, this thesis is primarily forwarded as a problem-seeking, rather than a problem-solving study. Will "community" ever be found among the Orokaiva?

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