This monograph is a comparative study of eight ways of life of highlanders in West Papua. It consists of ten sections: an introduction, a conclusion and eight ethnographic chapters, each dealing with a separate way of life. I chose this presentation since I wanted to make clear the individuality of each of them. In the book I attempt to trace the changes in these ways of life as they were occurring just previous to the settlement of colonial outsiders. This attempt proved feasible since for seven of them first contact accounts are available.
Anton Ploeg studied law in the Netherlands and social anthropology in Australia with a Ph.D. scholarship of the Australian National University. His Ph.D. research took place in the highlands of West Papua. The resulting thesis “Government in Wanggulam” was published in 1969. Afterwards he did fieldwork in several locations in Papua New Guinea. He took early retirement in 1991 so as to be able to research the extant ethnography of the highlands of West Papua. With this book he brings the bulk of this research together.