Trobrianders: More than Just a Dioscorea

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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Much like our very own culture, the Trobrianders have a complex political system, a tangible currency, and a thriving economy. The Trobriander?s existence is dependent on the commingling of these aspects of life much like our own, although ours is connected in much less of a literal since. All of the political and economic power in the Trobriander culture is held by the persons that have an abundance of one thing. The Trobrianders do not cast their eyes towards gold or silver to assist them in their quest for political prowess. With the right political mindset, the only thing a man needs in the Trobriand culture to succeed is Yams.

The yam is the very object that can give a man political and economic power, however it is the one thing he can not grow for himself. This fact is the basis for the way the Trobriander culture functions.

To understand the importance of the yam in the Trobriander culture, one must understand who grows and distributes the yams. It all starts with the preparation of the land. Due to the poor soil in the area, the Trobrianders use ??slash and burn? or ?swidden? cultivation? to enrich the soil with minerals. Although married couples work together to prepare the yam fields, growing yams is primarily the man?s job. The man uses young people to help him in his yam garden. He will later pay them with yams he receives. They may use this to buy things from the trading store or to buy secrets about the land and how it came into possession by the owners. Although it is the man that labors rigorously to grow the yams, they are never really his to use. The yams are grown for a single woman, usually his sister; therefore the garden...