New Guinea leadership as ethnographic analogy: A critical review

  • Roscoe P
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Increasingly, archaeologists are recognizing cultural anthropological work in New Guinea as an important source of ethnographic analogy for understanding the initial stages of cultural evolution. This article critically reviews the literature on leadership in contact-era New Guinea. It is intended as an introduction both to different theoretical interpretations of leadership, as these have developed from Marshal Sahlins's Big-man archetype to the present, and to the primary literature on the topic. It points to several implications for archaeological theory, identifies a number of problems in the ethnography and theory of contact-era New Guinea leadership, and concludes with a brief guide to deploying the ethnographic and theoretical literature.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Big men
  • Chiefdoms
  • Chiefs
  • Egalitarian societies
  • Melanesia
  • New Guinea
  • Political leadership
  • Transegalitarian societies

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  • Paul Roscoe

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