From Stone Ax to Uzi: Tradition and Change in the New Guinea Highlands (3) This course explores cultural change and innovation among tribal peoples of Highland New Guinea from stone tool technology to globalization.
ANTH 441 From Stone Ax to Uzi: Tradition and Change in the New Guinea Highlands (3)
The indigenous peoples of Highland Papua New Guinea were unknown to the outside world until the 1930s and began to be seriously influenced by European contact only after the First World War. At first contact with Europeans, the million or so people living in the Highlands used a stone tool technology, had no knowledge of the wheel, and lived in small, politically and economically independent local groups. They presented a major population engaged in a way of life typical of human society in a technologically simpler past, and have been crucial in anthropology's discussion of the general characteristics of human culture and institutions. The study of these cultures also provides an opportunity to explore the processes through which these peoples have assimilated thousands of years of technological, political, and economic innovation in a very brief period, while simultaneously maintaining and recreating their cultural identity, despite the impact of colonial rule and global influences. Apart from the specific history of these populations, the course will also give students insight into the processes of globalization and internationalization that necessarily effect changes in traditional cultures, and will require that they consider the advantages and disadvantages that accrue from these processes.
Among the topics this course will cover are traditional and current approaches to dispute settlement, economic changes that entail moving from subsistence agriculture as the basis of the economy to cash cropping for a global market, the ecological effects of extractive industries such as mining and how those effects are translated into social and cultural domains, the reorganization of gender roles, the incorporation of politically independent tribal units into a centralized, powerful state, and the demise of traditional religion with the conversion to Christianity.
Students will be evaluated on contributions to class discussion, essay exams, a term paper and a brief oral presentation based on that paper.
The course will provide support and depth for more general courses dealing with warfare, gender, religion, politics and economics and specific understandings for programs devoted to exploring cultural variation and modernization.
Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.