Samoan planters

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Langue : Anglais

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Résumé de Samoan planters

This is a well written account of a young American's study of farming in Western Samoa. It takes the form of a biography of the author's motives for choosing his subject, his entry into the village of Vaega, on Savai'i island, his negotiations, in halting Samoan, with the villagers to gain their confidence and cooperation. What emerges is a narrative of social change as it affects the main source of revenue. O'Meara discovered that land tenure was undergoing subtle change during the period of his research (1981-1984). The old system was communal ownership by extended families. The new system, approaching but by no means reaching private ownership, grew up in the interstices of the old by sub-dividing extended families into smaller units. That way land was sub-divided also and approximated individual ownership, but with no power to buy and sell land. This happened, O'Meara believes, in response to modern economic pressures to capitalize and to increase productivity. O'Meara's project didn't include courtship and marriage themes, but he has some interesting things to say about them. Bachelor talk boasts of deflowering virgins, but these same blades will violently attack anyone who has illicit contact with his sister. What's illicit? Any unchaperoned contact. Say again? Alright, it's improper for a young man and woman to be seen together, unless they are betrothed, and even then they will be chaperoned. Most families go to great lengths to guard and restrain their young girls. In the face of such constant chaperoning, most girls have actively to conspire in order to meet privately with a lover or suitor, O'Meara writes. He tells the story of encountering a young man with an injured hand returning from a plantation. O'Meara asked what had happened. He responded that he had just broken the jaw of a fellow he found sitting with his twenty year old sister. Twenty years old, for heaven's sake! O'Meara thought that was over-reaction, but nine months later she gave birth. The folks in Western Samoa are so strict about keeping boys and girls apart that the usual means of having clandestine meetings sounds to our ears utterly desperate. The young man, without prior arrangement, goes in the middle of the night to the girl's house (in Samoa houses have no walls), finds her amidst the slumbering extended family of twenty or so persons including mum and dad, and in these intimidating circumstances offers his passion.