The juxtaposition of physical space and social interaction among the precontact
Samo people of Papua New Guinea’s east Strickland Plain is analyzed through
a rich cultural metaphor reflecting on where people habitually sleep. Where a
person sleeps establishes individual status within the collectivity of a household,
which is identified as both a dwelling and an interactive group of family-oriented
people. A longhouse was typically built on a ridgetop amid gardens, sago-lined
swamp, and surrounding forest, together creating an economic environment
that, in effect, fed the community. Similarly, social space was created through
the reciprocal exchange of female siblings that enabled men to establish alliances.
Built space and social interaction, then, have significance that begins
with where one sleeps-at the center of a spatial and social world. This cultural
identification of persons with places is of interest to social anthropologists and
those who study the interactivity between a people’s social structure and its surroundings,
including built space.
Tired and hungy we stumbled out of the….