Human Ecology pp 155-171 | Cite as

Life Without Pigs: Decisions, Community Action, and Subsistence Changes Among the Irakia Awa, Papua New Guinea

  • David J. Boyd


The Irakia Awa are one of eight Awa-speaking communities totaling approximately 1,400 people who live on both sides of the Lamari River in the southeastern corner of the Eastern Highlands Province (geographical coordinates: 145°43′E, 6°38′S) (Fig. 1). Irakians control a home territory of 21.5 km2 (8.3 mi2) that ranges in elevation from 900 to 2,400 m (2,950-7,875 ft). Approximately 60% of their territory is grassland, and the remainder is secondary and primary forest. With a population of 299 in 1996 (gross density = 14/km2 or 36/mi2), the Irakia Awa still do not press heavily on their resource base. They continue to depend largely on subsistence production for their daily fare. Their gardens produce the standard array of Melanesian tuber crops (yams, taros, sweet potatoes, manioc), bananas, maize, squash, sugarcane, and a variety of leafy greens and other vegetables, many recently introduced (e.g., scallions, tomatoes, zucchini, potatoes, chayote, carrots, etc.). They also produce modest amounts of coffee beans as a cash crop. Significant developmental initiatives, however, have eluded them. It still is a one-day walk to the nearest road, school, medical aid post, or trade store.


Sweet Potato Exchange Partner Coastal Plantation Village Life Village Member 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of California at DavisDavisUSA

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