In eastern Papua, Christian missionaries found a social structure unparalleled in most areas of religious expansion in the world: it apparently lacked chiefs and any identifiable leadership. Nearly all the Massim societies of eastern Papua were matrilineal, and land was passed through females. Here, women enjoyed a higher status than elsewhere in what is now Papua New Guinea. By drawing on the records of missionary agents, both European and Polynesian, this paper shows how the Methodist, Anglican and Kwato (London Missionary Society) missions in eastern Papua all encountered difficulty in fostering a cadre of male leaders, but — as became evident after World War II — they experienced greater success in fostering women's leadership.
Field of Research
220499 Religion and Religious Studies not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective
970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture