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History and tradition in Melanesian anthropology

Author: James G Carrier
Publisher: Berkeley : University of California Press, ©1992.
Series: Studies in Melanesian anthropology, 10.
Edition/Format:   Print book : State or province government publication : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
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  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Aufsatzsammlung
Material Type: Government publication, State or province government publication, Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: James G Carrier
ISBN: 0520075234 9780520075238
OCLC Number: 24694949
Description: ix, 257 pages ; 24 cm.
Contents: Banana leaf bundles and skirts : a Pacific Penelope's web? / Margaret Jolly --
Substantivization and anthropological discourse : the transformation of practices into institutions in neotraditional Pacific societies / Nicholas Thomas --
Doing ethnographic history : the case of fighting in New Caledonia / Bronwen Douglas --
Approaches to articulation / James G. Carrier --
Christianity in Western Melanesian ethnography / John Barker --
Kwaisulia as culture hero / Roger Keesing --
Gone native in isles of illusion : in search of asterisk in Epi / Michael W. Young --
Epilogue / Roger Keesing and Margaret Jolly.
Series Title: Studies in Melanesian anthropology, 10.
Responsibility: edited by James G. Carrier.
More information:

Abstract:

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.

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