Beyond Defense: The Political Implications of Defense in Contact-era New Guinea

Author(s): Paul Roscoe

Year: 2015


At contact, New Guinea polities were uniformly at war, either episodically or permanently, with at least one of their neighbors. As a result, they all adopted significant defensive measures, commonly some mix of advanced warning systems, settlement nucleation, and natural or artificial fortifications. These measures were crucial to survival but they had numerous social and cultural implications. In this paper, I outline some of the more important of these consequences, before focusing on the political implications. In communities where people perforce interacted on foot through face-to-face communication, the distribution of population across a landscape had significant political consequences. I trace some of these outcomes drawing on data from about a hundred contact-era New Guinea polities.

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Cite this Record

Beyond Defense: The Political Implications of Defense in Contact-era New Guinea. Paul Roscoe. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396192)


Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;