Bountiful Island: A Study of Land Tenure on a Micronesian Atoll

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Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, Nov 29, 1994 - History - 272 pages
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In Bountiful Island a major Arctic scholar turns his eye on Micronesia: the small and isolated atoll of Pingelap in Micronesia lies in a moist climatic belt which encourages abundant plant life, including such food plants as coconuts, breadfruit and taro. In this detailed examination of land-tenure practices in the atoll, David Damas argues that the resulting high level of subsistence has brought an expansion of the population which has put great pressures on land. Under these pressures, land tenure has moved from communal usage to lineage control, to individual ownership and transmission rights. Comparative material from neighbouring Mwaekil atoll indicates the same general succession from larger to smaller units of tenure with increasing population. While control of land by kin groups is usual in the Pacific, other atoll societies show examples of individual tenure which also relate to changes in population densities.

Subsequent depopulation and emigration have not altered the fundamentals of the land-tenure system but have led to the emergence of a pattern of land stewardship. This has resulted in imbalances between the holdings of resident cultivators and those of absentee landowners.

Comparative material from neighbouring Mwaekil atoll indicates the same general succession from larger to smaller units of tenure with increasing population. While control of land by kin groups is usual in the Pacific, other atoll societies show examples of individual tenure which also relate to changes in population densities.

Bountiful Island will be of interest to all anthropologists studying cross-cultural comparisons in the theory of land-tenure practices and the ethnology, social anthropology and ethnohistory of Micronesia. This book is also suitable for senior undergraduate and graduate courses in cultural ecology and area courses on the Pacific.

 

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Contents

CHAPTER 1 First Impressions of Pingelap and Conceptual Background
1
CHAPTER 2 History and Culture of Pingelap
17
CHAPTER 3 Habitat and Economy
49
CHAPTER 4 Boundaries Norms and Laws in Pingelapese Land Tenure
75
CHAPTER 5 Patterns of Pingelapese Land Inheritance
93
The Derak Ceremony
129
CHAPTER 7 Land Tenure in the Pingelapese Colonies
157
CHAPTER 8 Pingelapese Land Tenure and External Relations
187
CHAPTER 9 The Pingelap Study in Comparative Perspective
207
Catalogue of the Flora of Pingelap
231
Glossary of Micronesian Terms
241
Notes
245
Bibliography
255
Index
265
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Page 14 - Method of Controlled Comparison" to its logical conclusion: My own preference is for the utilization of the comparative method on a smaller scale and with as much control over the frame of comparison as it is possible to secure.
Page 14 - My own preference is for the utilization of the comparative method on a smaller scale and with as much control over the frame of comparison as it is possible to secure. It has seemed natural to utilize regions of relatively homogeneous culture or to work within social or cultural types, and to further control the ecology and the historical factors so far as it is possible to do so.

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About the author (1994)

David Damas is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at McMaster University. He is a premier scholar of the Arctic and a leading authority on Innuit social structure. His major publications include Igluligmiut Kinship and Local Groupings and contributing editorship of The Smithsonian Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 5: Arctic. In 1975 he embarked on the first of four field trips in Pingelap atoll and Pohnpei Island in Micronesia. This research forms the basis for the present work.

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