This paper aims to elucidate how an ordinary Papua New Guinean becomes litigant of the modern lawsuit, namely a legal subject, based on the research materials that I collected in Manus Province. In considering the construction of the legal subject, I will focus on 2 points. First is the social process that laypeople learn and adapt to an unfamiliar legal system. This paper will understand it in terms of “situated learning,” as proposed by Lave and Wenger (1991). Second are the agents who support the learning and various procedures which are needed for the lawsuits. I will call them “support agents.” Through examining the support agents, this paper will illustrate the view that a legal subject is generated as a product of power in Foucaultian terms.
My analysis focuses on the interaction between laypeople and “support agents,”especially the welfare officer. The welfare office is an institutional intermediary between the legal and customary spheres in terms of enabling laypeople to learn an unfamiliar legal
system and preparing legal documents (e.g. a complaint and an affidavit). In this sense, this paper will also be a clinical case study of the welfare office.
Learning the law is situated in the gradual process of participating in the legal system. This practical process may be simultaneously equivalent to the ontological process in which a new mode of existence emerges. Finally, I will point out the connotations of my argument,
referring to the relation of modernity and personhood.
This paper focuses on a welcoming ceremony for traditional leaders from all over Micronesia, held on Pohnpei Island, one area of the Federated States of Micronesia. Many persons of varied status attended the ceremony, including other traditional leaders. The main questions addressed below follow. How do the hosts show abundant deference to the participants of different status or rank in order not to degrade their status or rank? To what extent was the ceremonial committee aware of the potential risk of disgracing other attendees during their encounter? Why did one chieftess get angry in the presence of other traditional leaders? In this article, I examine the relationship between Pohnpeian hospitality and the increasing intercultural encounters among traditional leaders from the contemporary Pacific Islands. The committee was concerned not to degrade the status of either nahnmwarki (the paramount chiefs of Pohnpei) or kahlap (people regarded by Pohnpeians as equivalent in rank to nahnmwarki). Based on the identification of the kahlap and the status of each guest, the committee was able to honor the kahlap as well as the nahnmwarki by extending the logic of the Pohnpeian chiefly system and the ranking of titles. Moreover, several ceremonial procedures effectively conveyed complex messages about hierarchy and equality among participants. In this way, the extension of Pohnpeian hospitality towards traditional leaders has been transformed by intercultural encounters in contemporary Micronesia. In these situations, acts of hospitality toward traditional leaders from within and beyond Pohnpei Island have become difficult and problematic. I conclude that one of the challenges of Pohnpeian hospitality is to manage host-guest relationships by showing proper deference towards those to be honored not just in traditional contexts, but in the context of an expanded Micronesia.