Social Reproduction and History in Melanesia
- Publication date:April 1995
- 14 b/w illus. 3 maps 13 tables
- Dimensions: 228 x 152 mm
- Weight: 0.461kg
- In stock
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.