Accepted Paper:

Pig Husbandry of the Bosavi in Highlands Fringe of Papua New Guinea  


Shingo Odani (Chiba University)

Paper short abstract:

This study focuses on extensive pig husbandry and its changes of the Bosavi society in Highlands fringe of Papua New Guinea in relation to subsistence and social system, compared with intensive husbandry of Highlands societies which has been inquired in detail.

Paper long abstract:

This study focuses on pig husbandry and its changes of the Bosavi in Highlands fringe of Papua New Guinea. Because New Guinea Island locates the east of the Wallace Line, pigs should be restricted Sus scrofa domesticus. However, around the habitat there are many wild pigs harmful to cultivation and attacking humans. Intervention to pig reproduction is minimum, that domestic sows copulate with wild boar in forests, because all male piglets are castrated to avoid becoming wild. Piglets are fed about 2 months around the owner's house, and then released to forests with daily feeding. When the owner makes fewer efforts, sometimes piglets become wild. When owners still domesticate pregnant sows, piglets will be domestic, or vice versa piglets will be wild. Pig/human ratio was 0.55 in 2006 smaller than figures of Highlands societies. The Bosavi's husbandry suggests the early form of pig domestication, in which biological classification between wild and domestic is obscure.

However, people classify wild and domestic pigs linguistically. The extensiveness relates to their subsistence system with quick restoration of forests from cultivation, which provides enough protein resources such as small marsupials. Recently, the importance of domestic pig increases, because of introduction of Highlands social system which attaches importance to pig as bride price. In addition, people regard domestic pigs as "pets" or "family" inappropriate for cash trade, while wild pig frequently trade using cash. Because of recent acceptance of the monetary economy, people occasionally disguise domestic pigs as wild pigs in order to earn cash.

Panel BH15
Querying domestication: the ethnography of human-animal entanglements