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Larson, Gordon Frederick 1987 The Structure and Demography of the Cycle of Warfare among the Ilaga Dani of Irian Jaya (Volumes I and II)(Indonesia), PhD Dissertation, University of Michigan.
    © Gordon Frederick Larson, 1987. Use of any part of this thesis for any purpose must be acknowledged.


The Ilaga is a high valley in the central highlands of Irian Jaya of Indonesia, occupied by members of the two distantly related ethnic populations: the long-resident Damal and the intrusive Western Dani, most of whom trace their recent origin to the densely populated Balim Valley east of Ilaga. At the beginning of the century the Damal comprised the majority population, by 1961 the Dani had grown through immigration to outnumber the Damal by a ratio of three to one (4,100 to 1,200). This phenomenal transformation from a sparsely settled Damal-dominated to a densely settled Dani-dominated valley in just 50 years is closely linked to 14 wars fought in Ilaga during the same half-century, an average of one war every 3.6 years. Since 1961 an additional three wars have occurred which I have observed firsthand. One purpose of the dissertation is to describe Ilaga warfare as one phase of a recurring four-phase cycle of war and peace. Warfare is preceded by more localized feuding and succeeded by periods of armistice and peace. Peace is a period of ceremonial festivity, intervalley trade, and intensive immigration from the east. During Feud, fighting breaks out primarily as the result of population build-up. When it gets out of hand, leaders call for interalliance ritual war in order to prevent unrestrained violence, during which segments of population are driven from the valley. Ritual war is organized, confined to a single battlefield, and usually lasts about ten weeks until an equal death tally is reached between antagonists. Armistice is characterized by ceremonial peace settlement, political realignment, and intensive movement to the valley periphery and emigration to the north and west. A second purpose is to state the nature of the relationship between warfare and migration. In a narrower sense, fighting is the result of political discord resulting from periodic build-up and unequal distribution of population. From a broader perspective the opposite is true: ritual war, including ceremonial peace-making settlement, which it entails, regulates the flow of population by periodically attracting it from the east during peace and by pushing it on, as it were, during postwar periods of political realignment to the valley periphery and on to the less-densely settled valleys to the north and west.


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