ANT101: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
February 11, 2013
Defining the Enga Traditions
I chose the Enga traditions because throughout the text, their way of life interested me the most. Their way of life was very new to me which is what attracted me to read deeper about the way that they live. According to a case study in the text, the way that they handle their enemies is much different than that of the North American cultures. In some cultures, forgiving is not as easy as others. However, some cultures welcome rivalry and jump at the opportunity to shame their competition. The Enga are a horticultural society, which is a nonmechanized, nonintensive form of plant cultivation performed nonrepetitively on a plot of land. This simply means that they are more of food producers rather than food collectors. Throughout this research, I will discuss the beliefs and values, gender relations and economic organization of the Enga culture.
The Engan people are sometimes classified as being very violent. However, according to an article I read the Engan people have many means of nonviolent conflict resolutions. Some of these conflict resolutions include: avoidance of enemies and enemy territory, development of vagueness and flexibility about genealogies (thereby providing face-saving solutions), social shaming of potential troublemakers, migration to other areas where some form of land or residence rights may be claimed, encouraging traditional religious values, fostering effective leadership, instigating informal dispute settlement processes, and the development of valued relationships and cross-cutting ties such as participation in an exchange system and intermarriage between enemies. (Young, 1997) Too, the Ashford text displays a case study in which anthropologists have observed that people share food with friends and allies, or potential friends or allies, but not with their enemies. Among the Enga, a Big Man (a village leader who has the ability to sway other villagers through a process of gift giving and obligation) trying to make allies will call a feast for his followers as well as for those he wishes to ally with. His followers contribute pigs for the feast. Some feasts are competitive in nature. In a competitive feast, a Big Man's followers contribute food that is not redistributed back to them but instead goes toward a feast for the rival Big Man and his followers. At a later date the rival Big Man must reciprocate with a bigger feast, with the food going in the opposite direction. Competitive feasts are staged by a Big Man to humiliate his rival. The idea is that the Big Man collects as much wealth as he can to show off his own strength and humiliate his rival, who is unable to better or equal him in a future feast. Sometimes these kinds of