Cosmology in the Making: Barth, the Baktaman, and Secrecy

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

Cosmology in the Making: Barth, the Baktaman, and Secrecy

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This chapter explores Barth's work among the Baktaman, and examines how the Min got into Anthropology and how Anthropology got into the Min. It opens with an image that affords a glimpse of influences on Barth's perception of the Baktaman. The chapter also presents an in-depth example of two-way combinations between social relationships, analytical relationships, and ethnography, such that they ultimately appear inseparably a combination of the others and yet appear at moments as if they are stand-alone ‘separates’. Barth's record provides a rare opportunity to track the impressions left behind by thinking carried away from experiences at the ends of other journeys, the impressions left behind by earlier conceptual work, and to witness their development in subsequent passages. After the effects on Barth's epistemology are outlined, the discussion backtracks to focus on the Baktaman monograph. The chapter also examines the consequences of Barth having in mind a structuralist opposition of isolated symbolic elements. It then addresses Barth's discussion of creative mechanisms during storage within the minds of individual ritual specialists. Barth's methodological landscape is made concrete such that the movement of ideas can be witnessed in the passage of senior men through the forest to attend an initiation.

Keywords: cosmology; Barth; Baktaman; Min; Anthropology; epistemology; secrecy

Chapter.  14041 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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