Land Doesn’t Come from Your Mother, She Didn’t Make It with Her Hands’: Challenging Matriliny in Papua New Guinea

Melissa Demian

When I first went to work in the area in 1996, I had been invited by a local activist and sometime politician named Matilda Pilacapio, who told me on several occasions that my job would be to record ‘the matrilineal kinshop’. Her use of this phrase was clearly a shorthand reference to something more complex, and in true Papua New Guinea fashion she left it to me to work what it was. My eventual conclusion was that she perceived Suau matriliny under threat, particular as it pertained to the transmission of land rights. The threat in this case was the possibility of land being claimed through patrilateral ties, and perhaps even legally registered as such, although the cost of hiring a surveyor and filing a legal claim would have been prohibitive to most people onthe Suau Coast. Her concerns, as I ultimately learned, were inflated but not baseless.

Research Type(s)
Book Chapter
Submitted by Toksave
March 21, 2021
Published in
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