Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Dr. D.R. Counts
Birth order is an unexceptional biological feet. The concept of primogeniture--the eleboration of ideas, beliefs, end customs pertaining to the firstborn child--is a culturaI construct, a distinct sociocultural phenomenon that requires explication. My intent is to show that where a concept of primogeniture is found, this concept has important sociocultural ramifications and theoretical consequences that have been relatively ignored by anthropologists.
This dissertation provides detailed theoretical and ethnographic coverage of the significance of the concept of primogeniture among the Kabana of West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. The concept of primogeniture and the singular importance of the firstborn child in Kabana culture are explored within the context of the complex series of ceremoniaIs that Kabana parents must perform for their firstborn child. Because the firstborn child is a product of its progenitors and all firstborn ceremonials "take place on top of the dead", firstborn ceremonials overlap with and culminate in mortuary ceremonies. Firstborn child and mortuary ceremonies comprise the totality of Kanana ceremonial and provide a framework for an understanding of the Kabana view of their universe their place in it, and the principles that give order and meaning to their lives. The descriptive analysis of these ceremonials results in the accomplishment of two major objectives. The first is to explore the concept of primogeniture and explain the significance of this concept in Kabana culture and society. Secondly, the descriptive analysis of firstborn and mortuary traditions among the Kabana fills a lacuna in the ethnogrophy of Melanesia by providing a detailed study of a hitherto undescribed peopIe and their culture.
Scaletta, Naomi M., "Primogeniture and Primogenitor Firstborn Child and Mortuary Traditions among the Kabana (Bariai) of West New Britain, Papua New Guinea" (1985). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 1228.