Politics in the Torres Straits Islands




Beckett, Jeremy Rex

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Throughout this study I have called Hurray, Badu and Saibai communities without defining the term. except by implication. In this concluding chapter I shall re-examine my findings so as to indicate how and how far these island populations may be regarded as isolates for analysis. Red­ field has defined the "little community' in terms of four qualities, "distinctiveness, smallness, homogeneity and all- providing self-sufficiency"(1955 4), Except tor small- ness, the three islands fail to realize these qualities in full, yet retain them to a significant degree. They provode an example, one of the large and increasing number, of little communities which have become involved with and partially dependent upon a large-scale, complex industrial society. Redfield writes: "With the growth and the spread of civilization social relations extend themselves out from the local community, lose much of their congruence… and develop many kinds of impersonal and formal varieties of connection."(1956 : 38) In this respect, the situations or once primitive peoples brought into contact with civilization, and of rural-type communities which have long existed within civilized nation­ states, are very similar and pose tor the anthropologist much the same problems of description and analysis. Thus it is useful to approach the Torres Straits Islands along much the same lines as Barnas has adopted in his study or Bremnes, a Norwegian island parish (1954).The people of Bremnes are, like the Islanders, a partly seafaring, partly agricultural and partly rural community, placed within the bounds of a modern state. However, these detailed similarities are less important than the fact that Barnes’s concepts are, as Red­ field has noted (1956 : 34), of wider application.






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