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Contention and dispute : aspects of law and social control in Melanesia

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: Contention and dispute : aspects of law and social control in Melanesia
Date published: 1974
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
Law pervades the social, political, and economic aspects of the lives of all people in all communities. In Papua New Guinea, as in many emerging nations, however, law is not always the panoplied abstraction of western nations; rather, it is the customary law, in which discussions and arguments about disputes within the groups are carried on until consensus is reached. Contention and Dispute presents several case histories from different parts of Papua New Guinea showing what people argue about and how they settle their differences. Each is analysed in terms of its context of place, social conditions, disputants, and personalities. Each exemplifies customary law in action, in native courts that are often vigorous, downright, earthy - and devious. Each is a community affair, utterly remote from the formality of western courts, and is at once a means of restoring the status quo and a platform for personal and political ambitions. A fundamental problem for Papua New Guinea today is to lay the foundations for a nationally acceptable system that will combine the legal needs, in national and international terms, with a customary law that is different from but not inferior to introduced law. This book provides an essential background for the solution.


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