An Introduction to the Anthropology of Melanesia

Author: Paul Sillitoe
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0521588367
Release Date: 1998-10-08
Genre: Social Science

This Introduction to the Anthropology of Melanesia is intended for undergraduate anthropology students with some grounding in the issues and ideas that inform the discipline, and for courses in Pacific Studies. Each chapter focuses on a topic common to many cultures in the region, such as the role of so-called Big Men, ancestors, male initiation, and exchange, and these ideas are fleshed out with apt ethnographic examples. Melanesia is a fascinating culture area, and has always been a popular fieldwork site for anthropologists, including W. H. R. Rivers, Bronislaw Malinowski, Margaret Mead, and Gregory Bateson. Some of the most important theoretical contributions to the subject were also first formulated with reference to Melanesian studies, and students today still learn much of their basic anthropology from Melanesian examples.

Transactions and Creations

Author: Eric Hirsch
Publisher: Berghahn Books
ISBN: 1845450280
Release Date: 2006
Genre: Social Science

In the early 21st century, intellectual and cultural resources emerge on all sides as candidates for ownership claims. Members of an anthropological research team investigating emergent conomic relations in a part of the world renowned for its innovative approach to resources and transactions, wish to open up the vocabulary. In this unique volume, they bring an unexpected comparative perspective to global debates on intellectual and cultural property rights (IPR and CPR). The contributors bring from Melanesia their collective experience of people initiating, limiting and rationalizing claims through transactions in ways that challenge many of the assumptions behind the international language. In a bold theoretical move, “property” is put alongside two other terms: “transactions” and “creations.” The former have a place in the anthropological tradition that now needs to be brought into the foreground. In turn, increasing interest in protecting intellectual and cultural resources means that questions about creativity have suddenly become pertinent to what is or is not being transacted. Yet is creativity a special preoccupation of modernity? How are we to talk about people’s creative practices, when innovation becomes the basis for ownership claims? This book is full of surprises!

History and Tradition in Melanesian Anthropology

Author: James G. Carrier
ISBN: UCSD:31822007858467
Release Date: 1992
Genre: History

Melanesian societies, like village societies in many parts of the world, are frequently portrayed as existing in a timeless, traditional present. The effects of this view are seen not only in overall popular and academic understandings of these societies but also in more abstract debates within anthropology about the nature of kinship, exchange, or social organization. History and Tradition in Melanesian Anthropology offers an alternative view, from authors who believe that historical evidence can and must inform our understanding of contemporary cultures. This collection of original essays brings together scholars in anthropology and history. They point out ways in which the "timeless-traditionalism" approach of anthropology is inadequate. Life in the existing societies of Melanesia cannot be understood, they say, without taking firmly into account how these societies are shaped by their interactions with Western influences. In different ways all the contributors bring the history of Melanesian societies into their analyses, whether discussing the generally dismissive attitude of ethnographers toward the large numbers of Melanesian Christians; the ethnocentrism that led European observers to interpret fighting among the Melanesians solely according to whether it was for or against the Europeans; or the mechanism by which a practice such as kerekere (the soliciting of goods or services in Fijian society) became reified as a "custom." While the essays are critical of much of the anthropology that is done in Melanesia, they also exemplify a responsible, historically informed approach to the study of Melanesian societies - sober, constructive, and ideologically disinterested. Historians and anthropologists of Melanesia and the Pacific in general will find here original and enlightening work that is sure to influence the theoretical orientation of Melanesian anthropology.

Social Reproduction and History in Melanesia

Author: Robert John Foster
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0521483328
Release Date: 1995-04-27
Genre: History

This study describes and interprets the ritual activity that follows upon death in the Tanga Islands, Papua New Guinea. Robert J. Foster shows how the performance of large-scale feasts and ceremonial exchanges both commemorate the dead and regenerate the social relations of the living. He places the rites in an historical context by demonstrating how the effects of participation in an expanding cash economy has allowed Tangans to conceive of the rites as "customary" in opposition to the new and foreign practices of "business."

The Death of the Big Men and the Rise of the Big Shots

Author: Keir Martin
Publisher: Berghahn Books
ISBN: 9780857458735
Release Date: 2013-03-30
Genre: Social Science

In 1994, the Pacific island village of Matupit was partially destroyed by a volcanic eruption. This study focuses on the subsequent reconstruction and contests over the morality of exchanges that are generative of new forms of social stratification. Such new dynamics of stratification are central to contemporary processes of globalization in the Pacific, and more widely. Through detailed ethnography of the transactions that a displaced people entered into in seeking to rebuild their lives, this book analyses how people re-make sociality in an era of post-colonial neoliberalism without taking either the transformative power of globalization or the resilience of indigenous culture as its starting point. It also contributes to the understanding of the problems of post-disaster reconstruction and development projects.

The Anthropology of Morality in Melanesia and Beyond

Author: Mr John Barker
Publisher: Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.
ISBN: 9781409491095
Release Date: 2012-12-28
Genre: Social Science

The Anthropology of Morality in Melanesia and Beyond examines how Melanesians experience and deal with moral dilemmas and challenges. Taking Kenelm Burridge’s seminal work as their starting point, the contributors focus upon public situations and types of people that exemplify key ethical contradictions for members of moral communities. While returning to some classical concerns, such as the roles of big men and sorcerers, the book opens new territory with richly textured ethnographic studies and theoretical reviews that explore the interface between the values associated with indigenous village life and the ethical orientations associated with Christianity, the state, the marketplace, and other facets of ‘modernity'. A major contribution to the emerging field of the anthropology of morality, the volume includes some of the most prominent scholars working in the discipline today, including Bruce Knauft, Joel Robbins, F.G. Bailey,Deborah Gewertz and Frederick Errington.

Christianity and Animism in Melanesia

Author: Kenneth Nehrbass
Publisher: William Carey Library Pub
ISBN: 087808407X
Release Date: 2012
Genre: Religion

In this book, Kenneth Nehrbass examines the interaction between traditional or animistic religion (called kastom) and Christianity in Vanuatu. First, he briefly outlines major anthropological theories of animism, then he examines eight aspects of animism on Tanna Island and shows how they present a challenge to Christianity. He traces the history of Christianity on Tanna from 1839 to the present, showing which missiological theories the various missionaries were implementing. Nehrbass wanted to find out what experiences in the lives of the islanders distinguished those who left traditional religion behind from those who held on to it. In the end, he contends that there are twenty factors of gospel response and cultural integration that determine whether an animistic background believer will be a mixer, separator, transplanter, or contextualizer.

Saltwater Sociality

Author: Katharina Schneider
Publisher: Berghahn Books
ISBN: 9780857453020
Release Date: 2012-02-28
Genre: Social Science

The inhabitants of Pororan Island, a small group of 'saltwater people' in Papua New Guinea, are intensely interested in the movements of persons across the island and across the sea, both in their everyday lives as fishing people and on ritual occasions. From their observations of human movements, they take their cues about the current state of social relations. Based on detailed ethnography, this study engages current Melanesian anthropological theory and argues that movements are the Pororans' predominant mode of objectifying relations. Movements on Pororan Island are to its inhabitants what roads are to 'mainlanders' on the nearby larger island, and what material objects and images are to others elsewhere in Melanesia.

Gender Rituals

Author: Nancy Lutkehaus
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 9781136657351
Release Date: 2013-09-13
Genre: Social Science

This volume draws together ethnographies of female initiation rites in Melanesia which require anthropologists to rethink their analysis of initiations and their perceptions of gender. The contributors argue that female initiation rites express more than cultural notions of femininity, narrow definitions of reproduction, or coming of age rituals - instead they play an important role in other life cycle rituals and in the political and economic organization of society.

Social Change in Melanesia

Author: Paul Sillitoe
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 0521778069
Release Date: 2000-04-13
Genre: Social Science

This book offers a clear and absorbing account of social change in Melanesia since the arrival of Europeans, covering the colonial period and the history of the new post-colonial states. It discusses economic and technological change, urbanisation, the development of the modern state, and the often violent reactions to these dramatic transformations, and considers the dilemmas of development that threaten the environment. A companion to An Introduction to the Anthropology of Melanesia (1998), it is addressed to students with little or no background in the region's history and development.

The Gender of the Gift

Author: Marilyn Strathern
Publisher: Univ of California Press
ISBN: 9780520072022
Release Date: 1990-11
Genre: History

In the most original and ambitious synthesis yet undertaken in Melanesian scholarship, Marilyn Strathern argues that gender relations have been a particular casualty of unexamined assumptions held by Western anthropologists and feminist scholars alike. The book treats with equal seriousness—and with equal good humor—the insights of Western social science, feminist politics, and ethnographic reporting, in order to rethink the representation of Melanesian social and cultural life. This makes The Gender of the Gift one of the most sustained critiques of cross-cultural comparison that anthropology has seen, and one of its most spirited vindications.

Religions of Melanesia

Author: G. W. Trompf
Publisher: Greenwood Publishing Group
ISBN: 0313287546
Release Date: 2006
Genre: Reference

Religions of Melanesia is the first comprehensive annotated bibliography of religious life in a region that boasts over one-quarter of the world's distinct religions.

Culture Change and Ex Change

Author: Regina Knapp
Publisher: Berghahn Books
ISBN: 9781785333859
Release Date: 2017-10-01
Genre: Social Science

How is cultural change perceived and performed by members of the Bena Bena language group, who live in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea? In her analysis, Knapp draws upon existing bodies of work on ‘culture change’, ‘exchange’ and ‘person’ in Melanesia but brings them together in a new way by conjoining traditional models with theoretical approaches of the new Melanesian ethnography and with collaborative, reflexive and reverse anthropology.

Pacific Studies

ISBN: UOM:39015066169056
Release Date: 2003
Genre: Islands of the Pacific

Patterns of Culture

Author: Ruth Benedict
Publisher: HMH
ISBN: 9780547523927
Release Date: 2013-04-30
Genre: Social Science

An anthropologist compares three diverse societies in this groundbreaking, “unique and important” cultural study (The New York Times). A remarkable introduction to cultural studies, Patterns of Culture made history in exploring the role of culture in shaping our lives. In it, the renowned anthropologist Ruth Benedict offers an in-depth look at three societies—the Zuñi of the southwestern United States, the Kwakiutl of western Canada, and the Dobuans of Melanesia—and demonstrates the diversity of behaviors in them. Benedict’s groundbreaking study shows that a unique configuration of traits defines each human culture and she examines the relationship between culture and the individual. Featuring prefatory remarks by Franz Boas, Margaret Mead, and Louise Lamphere, who calls it “a foundational text in teaching us the value of diversity,” this provocative work ultimately explores what it means to be human. “That today the modern world is on such easy terms with the concept of culture . . . is in very great part due to this book.” —Margaret Mead