In John Barker’s “Ancestral Lines: The Maisin of Papua NewGuinea and the Fate of the Rainforest,” Barker explains how the Maisinpeople live and his experiences living in their culture. In the second chapterBarker discusses how the Maisin people cooperate with one another to get theirbasic needs, such as acquiring food, manual labour inside and outside the house(Barker 2016:45). Gender organizes the work for the Maisin culture, as womanwork on tasks that require sustained effort such as work around the household,and taking care of children (Barker 2008:45).
Men must take on jobs thatrequire heavy work, such as hunting, and providing food for their families and thecommunity (Barker 2008:45). The majority of food is obtained from theirgardens. These gardens serve more than food for the community, as well as a spiritualconnection with their ancestors.
Barker continues to explain how a family’sgarden represents their social roles and economic status (Barker 2008:46). Thecrops produced by the families can be traded for other necessities if needed (Barker2008:46). In “Ancestral Lines”and “Perspectives: An Open Invitation toCultural Anthropology,” both talk about the concepts of gender roles andhorticulture within the Maisin and Maasai people. Horticulture plays a hugerole for both the Maisin and Maasai as it provides food for the people, and asource of economic and political status. Horticulture is their way of life, andwithout it families from Maisin and Maasai communities would have limited numberof crops and also limited cattle (Maasai). Horticulture affects a family’ssocial status, and wealth so it’s crucial that it is kept up for an example, “Massaimeasure wealth and social status according to the number of animals a personowns” (Shearn 2017:100). Secondly, gender roles play a large role within theMaisin and Maasai culture. In the Massai culture “Men care about cattle whilewoman care about children,” this shows that woman have an absence of economicand political power, compared to what men have within the Massai culture(Shearn 2017: 101).
Compared to the Maisin culture, men tend to do task withheavy lifting, and higher concentrated work, compared to woman task which needssustained effort, and a great deal of patience. Both of these jobs are equallyas important, but men and woman have difference in strengths (Barker 2016:40). During John Barker’s “Ancestral Lines: The Maisin of Papua NewGuinea and the Fate of the Rainforest,” I questioned why the Maisin peopleslowly used modern technology for their advantage, has it clearly shows moreproduct with less work, but they go back and forth with both ancestral and moderntechnology/tools? Barker discussed how the Maisin people started to modernizetheir technology and their way of life, making it easier for them to have easy accessto food, or having better hunting tools to get food for them . Easy access toshotguns, steel axes, and equipment makes it easier for them to garden andhunt, which is how the Maisin people live through horticulture’s way of living.Barker also discussed how the Maisin people are becoming more dependent onstore bought goods, but also rely on the land and water for basic needs. Even thoughthe Maisin people have easy access to goods, majority of their days are goingout hunting for food, gardening, and gathering. It’s easier for the Maisinculture to completely switch to modern technology, because it allows them for aneasier life, but I believe they should stay with their practice ofhorticulture.
Individuals within the Maisin tribe, practice horticulture for100’s of years, as they worship their ancestors. They are successful inproviding for their families, and they are keeping the tradition going fromwhere their ancestors started from. This shows the history of the Maisinculture, and how they live is important to their community itself.