Methodology After the Event: Weiner, Symbolic Obviation, and the Foi and Strathern, <i>Gender of the Gift</i>, and the Hagen <i>moka</i>

Tony Crook

in Anthropological Knowledge, Secrecy and Bolivip, Papua New Guinea

Published by British Academy

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780197264003
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734151 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship Monographs

Methodology After the Event: Weiner, Symbolic Obviation, and the Foi and Strathern, Gender of the Gift, and the Hagen moka

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This chapter provides two ethnographic examples of anthropologists reflexively incorporating Melanesian aesthetics and energetics into their interpretations by making distinctive borrowings from Melanesian practices. In James F. Weiner's portrayal, Foi perceive the world as constituted by various forms of ‘a flow of vital energies, forces and relationships’. He suggests that men and women engage flow in distinctive ways. Foi takes human sociality, its ‘rules’, as ‘given’ or ‘innate’. Marilyn Strathern's The Gender of the Gift: Problems with Women and Problems with Society in Melanesia presents an original line of theoretical reasoning prompted by an ‘impasse in [the] comparative anthropology of Melanesia’. Mt Hagen is the ground by which The Gender of the Gift is figured. Strathern shares Ongka's awareness that exchanges are dependent upon producers: a husband with moka ambitions has to be an equally enthusiastic sweet-potato gardener, helping his wife to provide fodder for the pigs she will grow into prestigious gifts. An effect of The Gender of the Gift has been that much of what it has to teach has been incorporated by Melanesianists.

Keywords: Melanesian aesthetics; energetics; James F. Weiner; Foi; Marilyn Strathern; Mt Hagen; moka

Chapter.  10459 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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