Taken together, then, both the situation in Marovo and the New Melanesian Ethnography promote a presumption that indigenous representations of unilineal identities are likely to be elicitations--exaggerations, in Hviding's (1993: 813) terms--of one aspect of sociality at the temporary expense of others.
At the same time, however, the Marovo case and these two analytical approaches combine to cast doubt on the long-standing character and centrality of the cultural content of land claims in Melanesia that appeal to unilineal identities.
A number of criteria other than unilineal descent reckoning were presented to, and considered by, the judge in making his decision.
One basic problem at Nggela is that the essential system is described in terms of unilineal clan ownership whereas many of the transfers occur in the context of marital relationships that, in certain ceremonial exchanges, are construed more narrowly so that individuals can lay claim to use rights or transferred rights.
My fieldwork did not reveal any unilineal groups, except among the Dugum (specifically in Minas [Ombrat]), where people tend to give their genealogies as agnatic lines sometimes designated by the name of the apical ancestor.
While the genealogies have a clearly cognatic character, a double unilineal structure can be seen in the transmission pattern of the totems, called 'birds': gora in Banaro or pisin in Melanesian Pidgin.
But in the 1840s (and often still) Europeans were likely to assume 'tribes' or descent groups were, like those known from Israel or Rome, unilineal or exclusive in membership to offspring of one sex only, and furthermore extend this assumption to residence or locality.
Although a few commentators ambiguously suggest patrilineal inheritance (Clarke 1843 in Turton 1883:3), I am not aware of any evidence of unilineal descent lines at this (or any other) time among Maori.
Rejecting notions of unilineal
cause-and-effect, his richly textured historical approach warrants a wider audience.
He also accepts the unilineal
assumption that all aspects of human society change in lock step.
While I am not suggesting any necessary unilineal
evolution to ceremonial exchange, aspects of the Anganen situation may be of some significance for the analysis of the development of forms of ceremonial exchange and the heightened politicisation and prestige potentialities of them.
It is no coincidence that unilineal
inheritance is easier to reconcile with Western notions of property, which have proved more appropriate to capitalist rural development policies.