In New Guinea, peace comes with a price

Local restitution rulings quelled years of warfare in a nonstate society

By Bruce Bower, 11:54 AM September 27, 2012

After 15 years of intense warfare, Papua New Guinea’s Enga society recently gave peace a fighting chance. Outdoor village courts, which had formerly settled local disputes, resolved many bloody conflicts between Enga clans by determining how much communities should compensate one another for murders and other offenses.

The Enga demonstrate that small-scale societies can devise effective, sophisticated means for peacemaking, say anthropologist Polly Wiessner of the University of Utah in Salt...

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