Abstracts - Hoenigman

Darja HoenigmanClearing the air: A Meakambut practice of initiating a fight upon arrival

Darja Hoenigman

Université de Paris

The Meakambut are a small semi-nomadic society, moving between the camps and rock shelters in their territory of limestone mountains in the northern fringe highlands of East Sepik Province in Papua New Guinea. Every time a small group visits a different camp, the newcomers hasten to report any gossip from the previous camp. This normally creates great agitation among the present camp dwellers, and often leads to a quarrel, and the immediate departure of affected individuals to the camp from where the gossip originated. Based on video recordings of several such events, I explore the social underpinnings of this practice and propose that it be viewed as a distinct linguistic register.

  • Australian Government
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  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University