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Engaging Feminist Anthropology in Vanuatu

Local Knowledge and Universal Claims

Jean Mitchell

In Vanuatu, where the revival of kastom (custom) has been pivotal in defining postcolonial identity, articulations of feminism(s) are offen met with ambivalence. The tension between discourses of individual rights and collective obligations and the tension between universal ideas of women's rights and local cultural practices such as kastom must be confronted. An engaged feminist anthropology, I argue, resists singular accounts of modernity by locating local knowledge and kastomary practices within a larger context that unsettles the boundaries of local and universal. Disentangling the ways in which contemporary critiques of kastom resonate with missionary and colonial representations of Melanesian violence and drawing attention to the structural violence of everyday life are also important tasks. Invoking the concepts of 'modest witness' and 'situated knowledge', I discuss what Strathern (1987) has called the 'awkward relationship' between anthropology and feminism and consider the possibilities of an engaged feminist anthropology.

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Introduction

Cutting and Connecting—'Afrinesian' Perspectives on Networks, Relationality, and Exchange

Knut Christian Myhre

This introduction sketches the history of anthropological network analysis and examines its influence and significance with regard to contemporary conceptual and theoretical concerns in the discipline. It is argued that recent Melanesian ethnography is an effect of, and owes a debt to, certain mid-twentieth-century developments in Africanist anthropology. These debts allow for the elicitation of concepts and concerns from Melanesianist anthropology and their deployment in the analysis of African ethnography. Such deployment may in turn explore the limits of these conceptual constructs and allow for their return in distorted and extended forms. As demonstrated by the contributors to this special issue, the historical relationships between Melanesian ethnography and Africanist anthropology hence enable an exchange of theoretical gifts and traffic in analytics that cut the network and separate the two regions, thus allowing for a new form of anthropological comparison.

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Marilyn Strathern

This is an exercise in the re-making of knowledge. Stimulated by certain recent writings on bodily activity, the author returns to a section of an earlier work (in The Gender of the Gi, Strathern 1988) that had felt incomplete at the time of writing, as well as to some ethnographic material from Melanesia that she thought she knew. The new context deflects attention away from some original preoccupations onto the manner in which two anthropologists and a philosopher ascribe agency to persons.

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Files Circulation and the Forms of Legal Experts

Agency and Personhood in the Argentine Supreme Court

Leticia Barrera

A common assumption in Western legal cultures is that judicial law-making is materialised in practices that resemble the operation of a professional bureaucracy, practices that are also central to the construction of knowledge in other systems, such as accounting, audit, science, and even ethnography (Dauber 1995; Strathern 2000; Riles 2000, 2004, 2006; Maurer 2002; Yngvesson and Coutin 2006). This argument situates the judiciary as a formalistic organization that builds its ambition of universality on the procurement and dissemination of knowledge on a rational basis. Drawing on ethnographic research in the Argentine Supreme Court, this paper seeks to unpack this assumption through a detailed look at how the figures of legal bureaucrats, in particular law clerks, become visible through the documentary practices they perform within the judicial apparatus. As these practices unfold, they render visible these subjects in different forms, though not always accessible to outsiders. Persons are displayed through a bureaucratic circuit of files that simultaneously furthers and denies human agency while reinforcing the division of labour within the institution. This dynamic, I argue, can be understood in light of Marilyn Strathern’s (1988) insights about the forms of objectification and personification that operate in two “ethnographically conceived” social domains (Pottage 2001:113): a Euro-American commodity-driven economy, and Melanesia’s economy based on gift-exchange.

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Introduction

Narratives, Ontologies, Entanglements, and Iconoclasms

Sondra L. Hausner, Simon Coleman, and Ruy Llera Blanes

personal history as the basis from which she learned to observe, research, and write about religion. The articles section features detailed discussions about multiple parts of the world, from Melanesia to China and back to India, in addition to revisiting

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Eleanor Sterling, Tamara Ticktin, Tē Kipa Kepa Morgan, Georgina Cullman, Diana Alvira, Pelika Andrade, Nadia Bergamini, Erin Betley, Kate Burrows, Sophie Caillon, Joachim Claudet, Rachel Dacks, Pablo Eyzaguirre, Chris Filardi, Nadav Gazit, Christian Giardina, Stacy Jupiter, Kealohanuiopuna Kinney, Joe McCarter, Manuel Mejia, Kanoe Morishige, Jennifer Newell, Lihla Noori, John Parks, Pua’ala Pascua, Ashwin Ravikumar, Jamie Tanguay, Amanda Sigouin, Tina Stege, Mark Stege, and Alaka Wali

” communities that addresses the complexity of human-environment interactions. Melanesian Well-Being Indicators: A Biocultural Approach Jamie Tanguay The Melanesian Well-Being Indicators were developed in Vanuatu and designed for relevance across Melanesia, with

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Judith Bovensiepen

fascination with the diverse range of phenomena (mainly in Melanesia) labeled falsely or not as “cargo cults” had already peaked and waned. After an initial proliferation of writing on the subject in the 1950s and 1960s (and resurgences in the 1970s and 1980s

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The Worth of the ‘While’

Time and Taxes in a Finnish Timebank

Matti Eräsaari

–42) has argued that in Melanesia hierarchy can be realized in terms of the dominant value of equality: a ‘big-man’ status is achieved by having more equal-exchange partners than others, by being quantitatively more equal than others. Similarly, Helsinki

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Rane Willerslev

‘ethnographic orthodoxy’ through its concern for uncovering the radical alterity of others ( Willerslev 2013c: 42 ). This radical alterity is supposed to be found primarily in small-scale communities in Amazonia ( Viveiros de Castro 1992 ), Melanesia ( Scott

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Introduction

Toward a Comparative Anthropology of Muslim and Christian Lived Religion

Daan Beekers

: University of California Press . Robbins , Joel , Bambi B. Schieffelin , and Aparecida Vilaça . 2014 . “ Evangelical Conversion and the Transformation of the Self in Amazonia and Melanesia: Christianity and the Revival of Anthropological Comparison