Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 November 2009
So far, I have tried to convey some idea of where the sources of power in Esudadu society reside, and how social control is exerted. Within general processes of resource allocation, elders play an important guardianship role. Men are generally more concerned with land and cattle, and women with crops and children. But shrine-keepers of either gender command important authoritative resources by virtue of the tacit support they receive from their congregations. In the present chapter, I will try to show how relations of control built around the spirit-shrines facilitate the flow of labor between individuals and groups. The shrines and their keepers help to keep in check the competitive relations that are built around property and people. In so doing, they mediate in social relations of production. For production to proceed, sanctioned forms of reciprocity are a social necessity. For it is the case that in Sambujat people do not automatically cooperate.
The cultural emphasis that is placed on working hard, producing great stores of rice, acquiring cattle and children, amassing wealth, has its obverse side. There is a great deal of secretiveness and competitive feeling surrounding resources. This competition shows up in many ways. We have seen that persons compete over rights to land. They also compete over cattle. A man will not say how many head he owns; he will keep his cattle far away in another village, to prevent their being stolen or “poisoned” by one of his classificatory agnates. A couple who loses many children will move to another hank for safety.