Adventures in the Stone Age

A New Guinea Diary

Leopold Pospíšil

Adventures in the Stone Age

Leopold Pospíšil

Distributed for Karolinum Press, Charles University

Edited by Jaroslav Jirík
With an Afterword by Martin Soukup

350 pages | 41 color plates, 8 halftones, 1 map | 5 3/4 x 8
Paper $30.00 ISBN: 9788024647517 Will Publish September 2021 Not for sale in the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic
The first publication of a charming fieldwork memoir by a giant of legal anthropology.
When Leopold Pospíšil first arrived in New Guinea in 1954 to investigate the legal systems of the local tribes, he was warned about the Kapauku, who reputedly had no laws. Skeptical of the idea that any society could exist without laws, Pospíšil immediately decided to live among and study the Kapauku. Learning the language and living as a participant-observer among them, Pospíšil discovered that the supposedly primitive society possessed laws, rules, and social structures that were as sophisticated as they were logical. Drawing on his research and experiences among the Kapauku—he would stay with them five times between 1954 and 1979—Pospíšil broke new ground in the field of legal anthropology, holding a professorship at Yale, serving as the anthropology curator of the Peabody Museum of Natural History, and publishing three books of scholarship on Kapauku law.

This memoir of Pospíšil’s experience is filled with charming anecdotes and thrilling stories of trials, travels, and war told with humor and humility and accompanied by a wealth of the author’s personal photos from the time.
I. Introduction: How I Became an Anthropologist

II. Language

III. Data Gathering

IV. The Participant Observer

V. Becoming One of Them

VI. Collecting

VII. Non-horticultural Food Quest

VIII. Kapauku Culture and the Concept of “Primitive Society”

IX. Kapauku Personality

X. Kapauku Mathematics

XI. Quantity Obsession

XII. Economy Ceremonies

XIII. Life Cycle Ceremonies

XIV. Law

XV. Two Kapauku Legal Cases

XVI. Theft of Pigs and Embezzlement

XVII. Rape and Adultery


XIX. Magic and Religion

XX. Health, Sickness and Medicine

XXI. Changes Introduced by the Encroaching Western World

XXII. My Research and the Dutch Administration

XXIII. Departure from the Kamu

XXIV. Afterword: Leopold Pospíšil, Anthropology, and the Kapauku (Jirík & Soukup)
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