Collective action for war and for peace a case study among the enga of papua new guinea

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22 Scopus citations


Drawing on data from the Enga of Papua New Guinea, I (1) compare the challenges in organizing collective action for warfare in small-scale societies with those for peacemaking; (2) identify the many different channels of appeal that are interwoven to elicit the cooperation of individuals with different agendas: the rational or pragmatic, the emotional and the ritual; (3) propose that warfare is a dynamic process involving continual change in response to internal group conflicts of interest that generate new institutions, rules, and morals to facilitate collective action; and (4) show how the juxtaposition of war and active peacemaking is an effective strategy for building social complexity. This raises the question of why active peacemaking was relatively rare in small-scale societies or if it indeed was in the past.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)224-244
Number of pages21
JournalCurrent anthropology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology


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