An engaging, beautifully written account by an ethnographer who lived in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, Encompassing Others is at once a history of the encounter of two cultures and an attempt to challenge theoretically the main concepts that have informed the study of modernity. Going beyond accounts that grasp modernity solely in terms of domination, imperialism, and local resistance, it explores how capitalism, Christianity, and mass commercial culture enchant the senses, create a carnival of new goods, and open up new possibilities for thought and action.
Focusing on the Maring people of Highland New Guinea and on the Westerners who interacted with them, Edward LiPuma presents issues from the perspectives of both sides. We hear the voice of the Anglican priest from San Francisco as well as the most powerful Maring shamans. Further, the book seeks to develop a theory of generations that helps explain how change accelerates and societies take on new directions across generations.
Theoretical, descriptive, but almost entirely free of jargon, this book is intended for all those who are interested in how the West's encompassment of other peoples influences how these others conceive of their past, imagine their future, and experience the present. It will have wide appeal for anthropologists and others concerned with colonialism, globalization, and the formation of the nation-state.
Edward LiPuma is Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Miami.
In this theoretically sophisticated volume, contributors examine the process of nation making in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and Vanuatu- states that attained formal political independence between 1970 and 1980. The remarkable cultural diversity within these states demands close ethnographic study of different groups and their contesting definitions of nationhood and leads to highly original approaches.
The essays explore the political conditions and cultural assumptions that inform how Melanesians variously imagine a national community. The authors interpret a wide range of materials, from political speeches and official ceremonies of state to newspaper advertisements and life crisis rites. They demonstrate both how the legacies of divisive colonial rule, the weakness of the postcolonial state, and the exigencies of capitalist markets undermine the processes of nation making in contemporary Melanesia and how new forms of popular and consumer culture potentially shape an emergent national consciousness.
Comparative and historical in its orientation, this book will appeal to readers not only in anthropology but in political science, social history, and cultural studies. It will be of special value to those interested in comparative politics and history, Pacific studies, ethnicity and nationalism, and colonial and postcolonial studies.
Robert J. Foster is Assistant Professor of Anthropology, University of Rochester.
Originally published in 1982, James Clifford's analytical biography of Maurice Leenhardt (1878–1954)—missionary, anthropologist, founder of French Oceanic studies, historian of religion, and colonial reformer—received wide critical acclaim for its insight into the colonial history of anthropology. Drawing extensively on unpublished letters and journals, Clifford traces Leenhardt's life from his work as a missionary on the island of New Caledonia (1902–1926) to his subsequent return to Paris where he became an academic anthropologist at the École Practique des Hautes Études, where he followed Marcel Mauss and was succeeded in 1951 by Claude Lévi-Strauss. Clifford sees in Leenhardt's career a foreshadowing of contemporary anthropological concerns with reflexivity, cultural hybridity, and colonial and post-colonial entanglements.
When Charles Montgomery was ten years old, he stumbled upon the memoirs of his great-grandfather, a seafaring missionary in the South Pacific. Twenty years later and a century after that journey, entranced by the world of black magic and savagery the bishop described, Montgomery set out for Melanesia in search of the very spirits and myths his great-grandfather had sought to destroy. In The Shark God, he retraces his ancestor’s path through the far-flung islands, exploring the bond between faith and magic, the eerie persistence of the spirit world, and the heavy footprints of the British Empire.
In the South Pacific, he discovers a world of sorcery and shark worship, where Christian and pagan rituals coexist and an ordinary day is marked by confrontations with America-worshiping cult leaders and militants alike. A defiantly original blend of history and memoir, anthropology and travel writing, The Shark God is ultimately a tale of personal and political transformation.
“The Shark God, a travel story as dark and twisted as one might ever wish to hear . . . reaches a superb climax with some apocalyptically page-turning scenes.”—Guardian
“A fascinating account of the drama of Melanesian life.”—Times Literary Supplement
“With exquisite writing, Montgomery lovingly captures the beauty and the horrors, the mysteries and the shams of the people and places he visits.”—Publishers Weekly
“A very real and memorable talent. . . . The endurance [Montgomery] displayed on his travels was admirable, the adventures he survived were tremendous, and the quality of his prose seems matched only by the wisdom of his observations.”—Simon Winchester, Globe and Mail (Toronto)