Bountiful Island: A Study of Land Tenure on a Micronesian Atoll

Overview

In Bountiful Island a major Arctic scholar turns his eye on Micronesia: the small and isolated atoll of Pingelap in Micronesia lies in a moist climatic belt which encourages abundant plant life, including such food plants as coconuts, breadfruit and taro. In this detailed examination of land-tenure practices in the atoll, David Damas argues that the resulting high level of subsistence has brought an expansion of the population which has put great pressures on land. Under these pressures, land tenure has moved ...

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Waterloo 1994 Hardcover Very good xvi, 263pp+ index. Very good hardback in a very good dustjacket.

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Overview

In Bountiful Island a major Arctic scholar turns his eye on Micronesia: the small and isolated atoll of Pingelap in Micronesia lies in a moist climatic belt which encourages abundant plant life, including such food plants as coconuts, breadfruit and taro. In this detailed examination of land-tenure practices in the atoll, David Damas argues that the resulting high level of subsistence has brought an expansion of the population which has put great pressures on land. Under these pressures, land tenure has moved from communal usage to lineage control, to individual ownership and transmission rights. Comparative material from neighbouring Mwaekil atoll indicates the same general succession from larger to smaller units of tenure with increasing population. While control of land by kin groups is usual in the Pacific, other atoll societies show examples of individual tenure which also relate to changes in population densities.

Subsequent depopulation and emigration have not altered the fundamentals of the land-tenure system but have led to the emergence of a pattern of land stewardship. This has resulted in imbalances between the holdings of resident cultivators and those of absentee landowners.

Comparative material from neighbouring Mwaekil atoll indicates the same general succession from larger to smaller units of tenure with increasing population. While control of land by kin groups is usual in the Pacific, other atoll societies show examples of individual tenure which also relate to changes in population densities.

Bountiful Island will be of interest to all anthropologists studying cross-cultural comparisons in the theory of land-tenure practices and the ethnology, social anthropology and ethnohistory of Micronesia. This book is also suitable for senior undergraduate and graduate courses in cultural ecology and area courses on the Pacific.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780889202399
  • Publisher: Wilfrid Laurier University Press
  • Publication date: 11/29/1994
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 400.00 (d)

Meet the Author

David Damas is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at McMaster University. He is a premier scholar of the Arctic and a leading authority on Innuit social structure. His major publications include Igluligmiut Kinship and Local Groupings and contributing editorship of The Smithsonian Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 5: Arctic. In 1975 he embarked on the first of four field trips in Pingelap atoll and Pohnpei Island in Micronesia. This research forms the basis for the present work.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations
Tables
Acknowledgements
Ch. 1 First Impressions of Pingelap and Conceptual Background 1
Ch. 2 History and Culture of Pingelap 17
Ch. 3 Habitat and Economy 49
Ch. 4 Boundaries, Norms, and Laws in Pingelapese Land Tenure 75
Ch. 5 Patterns of Pingelapese Land Inheritance 93
Ch. 6 Confirming the Division of Estates: The Derak Ceremony 129
Ch. 7 Land Tenure in the Pingelapese Colonies 157
Ch. 8 Pingelapese Land Tenure and External Relations 187
Ch. 9 The Pingelap Study in Comparative Perspective 207
Appendix: Catalogue of the Flora of Pingelap 231
Glossary of Micronesian Terms 241
Notes 245
Bibliography 255
Index 265
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