what gender is. In order to make this argument, I will take as a point of departure ethnographies of what I call ‘difference-based societies’ in Melanesia and set up a structural contrast to what I call ‘sameness-based societies’ (see also Rio and
Pentecostalism and Egalitarianism in Melanesia
A Reconsideration of the Pentecostal Gender Paradox
A Thousand Eruptions
Religious Intensification in Melanesia and Beyond
irradiate. Such rhizomic morphology is exemplified by 1970s Melanesia. During this time, the Christian spirituality of communities across the region suddenly and rapidly accelerated, creating a heterogeneous yet cohesive field of intense religious
Among Cannibals and Headhunters
Jack London in Melanesia
. Since he had arrived at Nuku-Hiva in early 1908, London and his wife, Charmian, had been systematically buying artworks from various islands and then shipping them home, and during the five months he spent in Melanesia in the summer of 1908 he eventually
'Luck' and Personal Agency in North Mekeo Social Change
Mark S. Mosko
Notions and practices known by the Tok Pisin term laki ('lucky' or 'luck') have for long been widespread across Melanesia. Previous studies have tended to concentrate on laki as 'probabilistic chance' and on its secular (i.e., economic, political, recreational) expressions, most notably in card gambling. Drawing on the perspective of the New Melanesian Ethnography, I focus instead upon the magico-ritual dimensions of laki in a single Papua New Guinean society, North Mekeo, where laki has been adapted to indigenous notions of 'dividual' personal agency that differ radically from exogenous ideas of success through 'pure chance'. On this evidence, I argue that the different perceptions of laki and 'luck' or 'lucky' by North Mekeo and Westerners are indicative of the divergent sorts of agency and sociality that are culturally compatible, respectively, with dividual and individual personhood.
Membering and Dismembering
The Poetry and Relationality of Animal Bodies in Kilimanjaro
Knut Christian Myhre
This article extends Malcolm Ruel's notion of 'non-sacrificial ritual killing' to explore the mode of butchering and the sharing of meat among the Chagga-speaking people of Tanzania. It is argued that these processes are forms of elicitation and decomposition that can be illuminated by analytics developed from Melanesian ethnography. However, it is shown that these processes emerge as such only when the language use surrounding and pertaining to butchering is taken into consideration. On this basis, it is argued that butchering constitutes a poetic enunciation that both distorts and expands the mode of revelation and the relational form described from Melanesia. Finally, it is claimed that this entails an alternative relationship between language and life that recasts the relation between vernacular and analytical language, as well as between theory and ethnography.
Pigs, Fish, and Birds
Toward Multispecies Ethnography in Melanesia
This article reviews two strengths of Melanesian anthropology that could make a significant contribution to anthropological research on human-animal relations, specifically to multispecies ethnography. The first strength is an analytical approach to comparative research on gender developed in response to challenges from feminist theory in the 1980s; the second is a wealth of ethnographic detail on human-animal relations, much of it contained in texts not explicitly concerned with them and thus largely inaccessible to nonspecialist readers. The article sets up an analogy between the challenges faced by feminist anthropologists and those currently faced by multispecies ethnographers. It demonstrates how pursuing the analogy allows multispecies ethnographers to draw together analytically, and to reinvestigate a broad range of ethnographic resources containing details on human-animal relations, whose convergence so far remains hidden by divergent theoretical interests.
When was modernity in Melanesia?1
Portraits, characters and persons
A recent experience of ‘returning’ photographs to acquaintances in Mt Hagen, Papua New Guinea, leads to questions about the recognition of character. People acknowledge characteristic ways of acting or behaving, but it is not at all clear that these are simply attached to individual persons. To what entity might such characteristics be attached, and what are the ethical repercussions? There seems something of a parallel between the way English‐speakers bundle together the elements of someone's character and how they might compose a portrait; indeed to the various senses of ‘character’ as specification of qualities, intrinsic nature or customary habit, one might add the work it does in ‘painting a portrait’, as the metaphor goes. A completely unlooked‐for response on the part of Hagen friends to my proposal to seek out people in order to give what in some cases I had thought of as portraits, namely photographs of themselves and close kin, forced me to think afresh about what it means to have pictures of persons. This in turn might throw some light on character as analytic.
Property effects. Social networks and compensation claims in Melanesia
Engaging Feminist Anthropology in Vanuatu
Local Knowledge and Universal Claims
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.