Chapter

Reproducing Inequality: The Gender Politics of Male Cults in the Papua New Guinea Highlands and Amazonia

Aletta Biersack

in Gender in Amazonia and Melanesia

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780520228511
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935815 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520228511.003.0004
Reproducing Inequality: The Gender Politics of Male Cults in the Papua New Guinea Highlands and Amazonia

Show Summary Details

Preview

This chapter examines some resemblances between Amazonian and Melanesian men's cults. These cults portray the omatisia ritual of the Paiela of the Papua New Guinea highlands as a political act of “reproduction” in which immature boys are “reborn” as fertile adults. Women's fertility is subordinated to the claimed “fertility” of men. Thus, Amazonia and Papua New Guinea societies share ritual paraphernalia such as flutes and bullroarers, as well as “sexual antagonism” and, in particular, men's hostility to and fear of women. Also, in both societies, the rituals appear to be part and parcel of women's subjection. The chapter furthermore takes a look at the metaphysical foundations of the gender politics of male cults. Finally, it takes a turn from the society glimpsed through sexual hierarchies and their production and reproduction, to religion, returning to the related matters of gender, death, and time in indigenous life philosophies.

Keywords: male cults; fertility; omatisia ritual; gender politics; reproduction

Chapter.  11404 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.