Chapter

Damming the Rivers of Milk? Fertility, Sexuality, and Modernity in Melanesia and Amazonia

Margaret Jolly

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/9780520228511.003.0008
Damming the Rivers of Milk? Fertility, Sexuality, and Modernity in Melanesia and Amazonia

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In both Melanesia and Amazonia, cultures vary in the extent to which they bring men and women together in creative relationships or separate them as antithetical and opposed. Cultures of the northwest Amazon find striking resemblances to Melanesia in the stress of life and growth, which is punctuated and perpetuated by periods of sexual separation and continence, and in the specific connections between foodstuffs and the human body. This chapter addresses the question of reimagining the relation of gender, sexuality, and reproduction in Melanesian ethnography. It explores their connection in the literatures on “concepts of conception,” “sexual antagonism,” “pollution,” male/fertility cults, and ritual homosexuality. The chapter concludes by stating that, in both Melanesia and Amazonia, sexuality and reproduction flow into each other and are part of a broader confluence of indigenous philosophies about the cosmic sources of life, health, and growth, and of death, decay, and degeneration.

Keywords: Melanesia; Amazonia; sexuality; fertility; conception; sexual antagonism

Chapter.  16224 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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