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Matupit : land, politics and change among the Tolai of New Britain

CollectionsANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: Matupit : land, politics and change among the Tolai of New Britain
Author(s): Epstein, A. L.
Date published: 1969
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
One of the most interesting aspects of the study of change among a people after they have had contact with an alien civilisation is not only how they change but also how much they retain of their traditional ways - continuity in change. This book examines the question as exemplified by the Tolai people of Matupit, a small island near Rabaul. The Tolai of the north-eastern Gazelle Peninsula are among the most sophisticated and wealthy indigenous people of New Guinea and occupy a prominence in the affairs of Papua-New Guinea out of all proportion to their numbers. The Matupi are one of the largest groups of Tolai. Despite their sophistication and close links with Rabaul the Matupi retain many of their old traditions and, though they may work for wages in Rabaul, land is still extremely important to them, for most still grow much of their own food and cultivate cash crops. It is not surprising, therefore, that they devote much time and energy to disputes over land, and a major part of this book is an attempt to understand the nature of these disputes and the part that land plays in their lives. To understand this the author has examined in detail the modern political and economic systems of the island and illustrated his findings by case histories of the often involved disputes over land use and ownership which may go back several generations.


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