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Social Reproduction and History in Melanesia : Mortuary Ritual, Gift Exchange, and Custom in the Tanga Islands - Robert John Foster

Social Reproduction and History in Melanesia

Mortuary Ritual, Gift Exchange, and Custom in the Tanga Islands

Paperback Published: 26th June 1995
ISBN: 9780521483322
Number Of Pages: 316

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In much of Melanesia, the process of social reproduction unfolds as a lengthy sequence of mortuary rites - feast making and gift giving through which the living publicly define their social relations with each other while at the same time commemorating the deceased. In this study Robert J. Foster constructs an ethnographic account of mortuary rites in the Tanga Islands, Papua New Guinea, placing these large-scale feasts and ceremonial exchanges in their historical context and demonstrating how the effects of participation in an expanding cash economy have allowed Tangans to conceive of the rites as 'customary' in opposition to the new and foreign practices of 'business'. His examination synthesizes two divergent trends in Melanesian anthropology by emphasizing both the radical differences between Melanesian and Western forms of sociality and the conjunction of Melanesian and Western societies brought about by colonialism and capitalism.

"Foster offers a powerful and innovative analysis of Tangan notions of personhood, agency, value and exchange through this account of mortuary feasts. His historical perspective provides insight into how these notions have shifted in response to new opportunities for exchange within the Melanesian context. In short, for scholars concerned with the interchange between the crises of modernity and indigenous perspectives of social reproduction, this book is a welcome and essential contribution." Ilana Gershon, Chicago Anthropology Exchange "Foster's attempt at forging [a] new Melanesian anthropological approach is as subtle as it is courageous, and Melanesian and non-Melanesian scholars alike will find his book an informative read." American Anthropologist "In short, this book will become a classic, in at least two senses: its innovations are firmly grounded in disciplinary and areal traditions, and it should provide a template for others attempting to situate ritual structures in historical contexts." Richard Parmentier, Ethnohistory

Introduction: history, alterity, and a new (Melanesian) anthropology
Commoditization and the emergence of kastam
Kastam, bisnis and matriliny
Finishing the dead: an outline of Tangan mortuary feasts and exchanges
Replacing the dead: identical exchange and lineage succession
Performing lineage succession: feast giving and value-creation
Performing lineage succession: transformative exchange and the power of mortuary rites
Conclusion
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521483322
ISBN-10: 0521483328
Series: Cambridge Studies in Social and Cultural Anthropology
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 316
Published: 26th June 1995
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 22.8 x 15.2  x 1.7
Weight (kg): 0.43