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The Segmentary Lineage

The Segmentary Lineage

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Published by: Alberto Duran Iniestra on Sep 12, 2011
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beroughlyestimated.AgovernmentsurveycarriedoutinI958uggestedthattherewerebetweentwoandthreepigspermaninaregu.Thiswouldbeaboutfifteenmonthsafterthe1956pigceremony,whenpigswerestillfewandmall.Onthesamesurvey,in
Karnanegu
Iandndugwa1,whichheldpigceremoniesin1960,thefamilyaveragewas4.5.Whenwewitnessedpigceremoniesin1959and1950,thenumberofpigskilledinbothEndugwa1andSikutribeswasnotgreaterthanoneperheadofthetribalpopu-lation.Atleast90percentofthegrownpigsarekilledinthepigceremony.Itseemsthere-foreunlikelythatthemaximumpigpopula-lionofatribegreatlyexceedsonegrownpig
16.
AN
OF
THESEGMENTARYORGANIZATIONPREDATORY
SAHLINS:
TheSegmentaryLineage
I
187
perhead:allowingforpiglets,wemightas-sume1.5adultpigsperheadasamaximum.ThoughChimbupighusbandryistosomedegreeintegratedwithcultivation,thesystemcannotbetermedmixedfarming.IntheupperChimbuValley,wherepigsgrazemain-lyontemporaryfallowandareregularlyadmittedtoexhaustedgardens,theirdrop-pingsmaytosomedegreeassistinrebuildingsoilfertility.Inthecentralandsouthernareas,however,thereisaclearseparationbe-tweencultivationandgrazing,andsuchbene-
fit
asthesoilderivesfrompigdroppingsisgenerallywasted.Wehavenever
-observed
droppingsbeingCOllectedandusedasma-nure.
LINEAGE:EXPANSION
MARSHALLD.SAHLINS
Reprintedfrom
AmericanAnthropologist,63(/961):
32243.
MarshallD.SahlinsisProfessorotAntltropology,
University
oiMichigan.Hisprlnclpalresearchinterestsareculturalecology,primitiveeconomics,andpeoplesofthePacific.Heistileauthoroj
SocialStratificationinPolynesia,EvolutionandCulture
(withElmanR.Serviceandothers),
Moala:CultureandNa-tureonaFijianIsland.
and
Tribesmen.Aswehaveseen,thehabitattowhichpeoplemustadaptIsmulti-faceted.Inthisselection,recallingHallowell'sanalysisofthesizeofhuntingterritoriesinSelection8,Sahlinsexpandstheconceptofhabitattoincludeasocialdimension:thepresenceorabsenceofneighboringgroups.Hecontendsthat(allotherthings-suchastschno'ocyandnaturalfactorsinthehabitat-beingequal)agroup'sorqanlza-tionofsocialrelationswillbestronglyaffectedbyhavingcomeasthe-flrstsettlersinanarea(andthusnotbeingsurroundedbyothergroups)orasintrudersintothemidstofothergroups.Theorganization
01
socialrelationsthatSahlinsexaminesisthe"segmentaryline-age"intribalsocieties.
By
"tribal"Sahlinsmeansalevelofsociopoliticaldevelopmentthatismidwaybetweenthebandandthechiefdom;thislevelincludesmoststatelesshorticulturistsand
pastorallsts,
Segmentation,whichSahlinstreatsasanadaptationtospecificpressures,referstothefactthateachsegmentofasocietyIsanautonomousreplicaofalltheothers,withoutcenlralizationofcontrol.Thisreplicationdenotesorganizations
01
people,notnecessarilynumbersofpeople,whichcanvarygreatlyineachofthesegments.Atribalsociety,asSahlinsusesthephrase,isacollectionofkinshipandresidentialunitslargerthanthosefoundinbands;tribalseg-mentsaremadeupofmanynuclearfamilies.Thesesegmentsarecriss-crossedbyotherkindsofgroupings,suchasclans,age-gradeassociations,curingsocieties,wargroupings,andsecretsocieties.Thesegmentsareeco-nomicallyaswellaspoliticallyautonomous.Sahlinsfindsthatthesegmentarylineageisanadaptiveformtakenbyatribalsocietywhen
it
settlesinanareathatisalreadyinhabitedbyothergroups.Undertheseconditions,forrea-sonshediscusses,thesegmentofalineage
 
188/
HORTICULTURE
becomesthedecision-makingunit.However,segmentsoftenunitetoformlargerdecision-makingandimplementingunits.Thefrequencywithwhichsegmentsunitedependsonsocialratherthanphysicalconditionsinthehabitat:thepresenceofhabituallyaggressiveneighborsortheexistenceofagrouponwhichitispossibletopreyandatwhoseexpensethesegmentcanexpand.Ifthereisnopressuretoestablishaconfederateddefenseoroffensetherewillbelittleinclinationonthepartofthesegmentstounite.Thereareseveraltypesoflineagesegmentation,butSahlinsconcentratesonwhathecallsthe"Tiv-Nuersegmentarylineagesystem."Besidesillustratingtheconceptthatagroup'sorganizationofsocialrelationsisanintegralaspectofitsadaptationtosocialaswellasphysicalpressuresinthehabitat,Sahlinspointstoanotherimportantlesson.Itisnotenoughtosaythatasocietyischarac-terizedbyoneoranothertypeoforganizationtowhichwehavegivenaname(clan,lineage,village,orsocialclass);althoughthesedesig-nationsarenotwithoutvalue,itisalsonecessarytodeterminewhatpeople
do
withthesegroupingsintheireverydaylives.Whatweoftendesignateasa"lineage,"asSahlinsmakesclear,doesnotoperateinthesamewayinthelivesofallpeople.Thiscautionalsoshouldapplytothosewhousesuchtermsasextendedfamily,secretsociety,orinitiationceremonytodescribemodernindustrialsoci-eties.ThereaderwhowantstolearnmoreaboutNuercultureshouldconsult
TheNuer,
byE.E.Evans-Pritchard(NewYork:OxfordUniversityPress,1940).Oneofthebest-knownethno-graphicmonographs(anddeservedlyso),itprovidesasystematicattempttorelatetheorganizationofsocialrelationshipstothetotaladaptationofapeople.Anexcellentintro-ductiontoTivcultureis
ReturntoLaughter,
by
EleanorSmithBowen(LauraBohannan)(NewYork:Harper,1954),whichisafictionalizedaccountbyacontemporaryethnagrapher.In
VoyagersoftileViti,lZStrait:AStudyofNewGuineaTradingSystem
(Seattle:UniversityofWashington,1967),ThomasG.HardingappliesSahlins'basicconceptstoshowhowinter-grouprelationsintertwinewithfactorsofthehabitattostimulateandalsosetlimitsonadaptationsinnortheasternNewGuineathatarebasedbothonhorticultureandlarge-scaletrading.•
THEREHASBEEN
abroadinclinationinsocialanthropologyinrecentyearstoapplythedesignations"segmentarysystem"and"seg-mentaryprocess"toawidevarietyofsoci-eties.Onlyslightlynarroweristheapplicationoftheconcepttolineagesorsocietieswithlineages.Whilegrantingcertaingeneralsimi-laritiesinalltheorganizationspopularlycalled"segmentarylineage,"itseemsmoreusefultorestrictthetermtoaveryfewsoci-eties,mostnotablytheNuerandthe
Tiv,
Theargumentcanbemadeonpurelyformalgrounds:TivandNuerareincriticalrespectsorganizeddifferentlyfromeitherso-cietiesthathavebeenplacedinthecategory"segmentarylineagesystem."Thus,in
TribesWithoutRulers,
MiddletonandTaitweremovedtoclassifyTivand
Nuer=along
withLugbara,whichseemsinaccurate-asa
sub-
type
ofsegmentarylineagesystems,
at
one
point
asthe"classical"variety
of
suchsys-tems.Butthetypecanalsobeconsideredinanevolutionaryperspective;Tiv-Nuer,thesegmentarylineageorganizationproperlyso-called,
is
aspecificadaptivevarietywithinthetriballevelofsocietyandculture.(Thecri-teriaof"triballevel"andthemeaning
of
"specificadaptivevariety"
will
bespelledout
belcw.)
Thisevolutionaryperspectiveisadoptedherebecause
it
furnishesapracticalbasisfordistinguishingTiv-Nuerfromother"segmen-tary"societiesand,atthesametime,ithasthepowertosuggestthecircumstanceswhichproducesegmentarylineageorganization,to"explain"it,atleastpartly.Conversely-andcontrarytothevisionofRadcliffe-Brownforacomparative-structuralapproach-for-malismalonehasonlytendedtoobscurethesalientcharacteristicsofthesegmentarylineageorganization.Focusingonsuchgen-eralstructuralandfunctionalresemblancesas"segmentation"and"complementaryopposi-tion,"theformaldefinitionof"segmentarylineage"threatenstobecomeasbroadastheformalviewofthe"lineage"itself.Forseg-mentationandcomplementaryoppositionareverywidespread-nearlyuniversal-featuresofhumansocialorganization.ItisthennowonderthatTivandNuerhavebeenlumpedwithsocietiesthatvirtuallyruntheevolu-
 
tionarygamutfromsimpletribestoproto-states,suchastheAlur.OurdissatisfactionwiththisprocedureparallelsFried'sdiscon-tentwiththeuseof"lineage"incurrentsocialanthropology:Whentheanalyticalframeworkwhichissocon-ducivetofunctionalstudyis...transferredwith-outmodificationtoproblemsinvolvingcompari-sonsofgreaterorlesserscope,complicationsaresuretofollow....Whathappenswhensocietiesareclassifiedtogethermerelybecausetheyutilizekinshipasanarticulatingprinciplewithoutde-terminingthenatureoftheirparticularkinrela-tionsortheirquality,maybeseenwhenForteslinkstheHopiwiththe
Nuer,
theBeduin,theYako,theTallensi,theGusii,andtheTikopiaontbebasisoftheircommonpasessionofunilinealdescentgroups.Whilethisiscorrect,itisoflittlemomentsincewecanalsoadd,
interalia,
theorthern
Tungus
andtheChinese,therebygivingaseriesthatrangesfromasimplepastoralistandhuntingsocietytoasophisticatedworldpower.Theargumentforanevolutionaryviewof
Tiv-Nuer
segmentarylineageorganization-andforthetaxonomicdistinctionsdrawnforthe
purpose
ofargument-doesnotrestsim-plyontheexistenceofdifferencesbetweenTiv-Nuerandotherso-calledsegmentaryline-agesystems.Theimportanceofperceiving
Tiv-uer
asaspecifictribalformisthatthisleadstocertainempiricallytestableconclu-sionsaboutitsgenesisandincidence.Theevolutionaryperspective,moreover,doesnotsupersedestructuralanalysis,butcom-plementsitandaddsto
it
certainunder-standingswhichstructuralanalysisbyitselfseemsincapableofproducing.Thereishardlyneedtorepeattheoft-madeobservationthatconsiderationoftherelationsbetweenpartsofasystemdoesnotaccountfortheexistencefthesystem(oritsparts)
=unless
oneiswillingtoaccepthetautologythatthesystemiswhatitisbecausethatisthewayitis.YetwithoutwishingtolightthemagnificenceofEvans-Pritchard'sworkontheNuer-thepositionof
TheNuer
asanethnographicclassic
is
certainlysecure-nonetheless,hedoesnotbreakout
0
f
thecircle:Physicalenvironment,wayoflivelihood,modeofdistribution,poorcommunications,simpleeconomy,ctc.,tosomeextentexplainthein-cidenceof[uer]politicalcleavage,butthetendencytowardssegmentationseemstobeinherentinpoliticalstructureitself.
Ii
SAHLINS:
TheSegmentaryLineage/
189
Or,perhapsevenmoreexplicitly,Evans-Pritchardwritesthatecologicalfactors:...tosomeextentexplainthedemographicfeaturesofNuerpoliticalsegmentation,butthetendencytowardssegmentationmustbedefinedasafundamentalprincipleoftheirsocialstruc-ture.
In
brief,Evans-Pritchardseems
to
rejecttheadaptiveview
as
oflimitedvalue,leavingthe
impression
thatthe
Nuer
haveaseg-mentaryorganizationbecauseoftheseg-mentary"principle"oftheirorganization.Thealternativeadvancedhereisthatasegmentarylineagesystemisasocialmeansofintrusionandcompetitionin
an
alreadyoccupiedecologicalniche.More,itisanor-ganizationconfinedtosocietiesofacertainlevelofdevelopment,the
tribal
level,asdis-tinguishedfromless-developed
bands
and
moreadvanced
chiefdoms.
Finally,theseg-mentarylineageisasuccessfulpredatory
organization
inconflictswithothertribes,althoughperhapsunnecessaryagainstbandsandineffectiveagainstchiefdomsandstates;itdevelopsspecificallyinatribalsocietywhichismovingagainstothertribes,ina
tribalinterculturalenvironment.
THETRIBALLEVEL
OF
CULTURALEVOLUTION
Theevolutionofculturecanbeviewedasamovementinthedirectionofincreasingutilizationof
the
earth'sresources,
or,
al-ternatively,ofincreasingtranformationofavailableenergyintoculturalsystems.Thisbroadmovementhastwoaspects.Ontheonehandculturetendstodiversifyintospecificcultu~esthroughselectionandadaptation.This
is
specificevolution,theramifyingdiversifying,specializingaspect,fromhomo-geneitytoheterogeneity.Ontheotherhand,higherculturalformsarisefrom,andsurpass,lower.Cultureproducessuccessivelyhigher
levels
oforganizationasnewformscapableofharnessingincreasingamountsofenergyemerge.Inpopularterms,thisisculture'smovementtowardcomplexity,thegeneral,progressiveaspectofevolution.Weareconcernedherewiththetriballevel

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