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Bodies and Persons

Bodies and Persons
Comparative Perspectives from Africa and Melanesia


Andrew Strathern, Michael Lambek, Rita Astuti, Edward LiPuma, Ellen Corin, Rene Devisch, Sandra Bamford, Brad Weiss, Bruce M. Knauft, Eytan Bercovitch, Pamela Stewart, Janice Boddy
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  • Date Published: April 1998
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521627375

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About the Authors
  • Large-scale comparisons are out of fashion in anthropology, but this book suggests a bold comparative approach to broad cultural differences between Africa and Melanesia. Its theme is personhood, which is understood in terms of what anthropologists call 'embodiment'. These concepts are applied to questions ranging from the meanings of spirit possession, to the logics of witchcraft and kinship relations, the use of rituals to heal the sick, 'electric vampires', and even the impact of capitalism. There are detailed ethnographic analyses, and suggestive comparisons of classic African and Melanesian ethnographic cases, such as the Nuer and the Melpa. The contributors debate alternative strategies for cross-cultural comparison, and demonstrate that there is a surprising range of continuities, putting in question common assumptions about the huge differences between these two parts of the world.

    • Considers the political and economic effects and future implications of the recent reforms in Latin America and Eastern Europe
    • Provides generous quantities of local data to illustrate the author's arguments
    • Accessibly written for students and others interested in the interdependence of political and economic systems
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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 1998
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521627375
    • length: 316 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.631kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction Andrew Strathern
    Part I. Transcending Dichotomies:
    2. 'It's a boy', 'It's a girl!': reflections on sex and gender in Madagascar and beyond Rita Astuti
    3. Modernity and formative personhood in Melanesia Edward LiPuma
    4. Refiguring the person: the dynamics of affects and symbols in an African spirit possession cult Ellen Corin
    5. Body and mind in mind, body and mind in body: some anthropological interventions in a long conversation Michael Lambek
    Part II. Transitions, Containments, Decontainments:
    6. Treating the affect by remodelling the body in a Yaka healing cult Rene Devisch
    7. To eat for another: taboo and the elicitation of bodily form among the Kamea of Papua New Guinea Sandra Bamford
    8. Electric vampires: Haya rumors of the commodified body Brad Weiss
    Part III. From Exchange to History:
    9. Creative possessions: spirit mediumship and millennial economy among Gebusi of Papua New Guinea Bruce M. Knauft
    10. Dis-embodiment and concealment among the Atbalmin of Papua New Guinea Eytan Bercovitch
    11. Melpa and Nuer ideas of life and death: the rebirth of a comparison Andrew Strathern and Pamela Stewart
    Afterword Janice Boddy.

  • Editors

    Michael Lambek, University of Toronto

    Andrew Strathern, University of Pittsburgh


    Andrew Strathern, Michael Lambek, Rita Astuti, Edward LiPuma, Ellen Corin, Rene Devisch, Sandra Bamford, Brad Weiss, Bruce M. Knauft, Eytan Bercovitch, Pamela Stewart, Janice Boddy

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