Worlds Overturned: Gender-Inflected Religious Movements in Melanesia and the Amazon

Michael F. Brown

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:
Worlds Overturned: Gender-Inflected Religious Movements in Melanesia and the Amazon

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This chapter examines gender revolutions in which religious change is accompanied by remarkable alterations in traditional relations between men and women. Through examples of three cases studies from Canela, Ilahita, and Kaliai, it examines the circumstances in which societies reject male religious control and raise women to positions of moral authority. Following this, the chapter addresses the question of whether these revolutions produce permanent changes in gender relations, or whether they are merely short-term perturbations, and furthermore takes a look at the political economy of gender. Such accounts of Melanesia and Amazonia have much to tell about the complex processes by which women and men rethink tradition and renegotiate relations of dominance and subordination in times of change. Finally, the chapter indicates that there are still many unanswered questions about the circumstances by which women suddenly move from background to foreground in public discourse about religion.

Keywords: gender revolutions; male religious control; gender relations; political economy; Melanesia; Amazonia

Chapter.  6702 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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