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Sikaiana social organization: Social categories and relationships in a contemporary Polynesian society (change, scale, complexity).

Author: William Wilkinson Donner; University of Pennsylvania.
Dissertation: Ph. D. University of Pennsylvania 1985
Edition/Format:   Thesis/dissertation : Thesis/dissertation : Microfiche : English
Publication:Dissertation Abstracts International, 46-05A.
Summary:
This dissertation describes the social organization of Sikaiana, a Polynesian Outlier located about 100 miles east of Malaita in the Solomon Islands. The research data was collected during 24 months of participant observation both on Sikaiana and among Sikaiana emigrants residing in other areas of the Solomon Islands. Data collection included: observations of social interaction, social settings, community events,
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Details

Material Type: Thesis/dissertation
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: William Wilkinson Donner; University of Pennsylvania.
OCLC Number: 224267914
Notes: (UnM)AAI8515365.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 46-05, Section: A, page: 1329.
Reproduction Notes: Microfiche. Ann Arbor, Mich : University Microfilms International.
Description: 545 pages

Abstract:

This dissertation describes the social organization of Sikaiana, a Polynesian Outlier located about 100 miles east of Malaita in the Solomon Islands. The research data was collected during 24 months of participant observation both on Sikaiana and among Sikaiana emigrants residing in other areas of the Solomon Islands. Data collection included: observations of social interaction, social settings, community events, and ceremonies; interviews about kinship relationships, land tenure, fosterage, social change, marriage payments; analysis of the Sikaiana language; recording of genealogies, employment histories and census data; research on historical records and documents pertaining to Sikaiana history. The discussion begins with an examination of Sikaiana's historical and regional context including its relationships with neighboring societies, 19th century interactions with European traders and whalers, and the 20th century influences of Christian missionaries and the colonial government.

The discussion then turns to a description of contemporary social categories and relationships determined by descent, land tenure, age, sex, kinship, fosterage and newly introduced Western institutions such as the church, school, local government and court system. The final chapters examine the motivations, emotions and interpersonal etiquette that shape social relationships. Sikaiana is a small and, until recently, isolated community that has experienced dramatic changes, especially in the last 50 years. Highly specialized Western institutions have been introduced onto the island. Many Sikaiana have emigrated from the atoll to seek employment and education in other parts of the Solomon Islands. Nevertheless, thus far the Sikaiana people have maintained themselves as a distinct community. Indigenous expectations and values about kinship, land tenure, gender and interactional etiquette remain important.

Emigrants in other areas of the Solomon Islands tend to form communities and maintain an interest in other Sikaiana people. A high frequency of fosterage reinforces bilateral kinship ties. Community events and activities remain important to them. Western roles have been integrated into the atoll social system in a manner that preserves community participation, a decentralized political system and egalitarian social relationships.

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