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Fighting With Food
Leadership, Values and Social Control in a Massim Society


  • Date Published: February 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521107662

£ 34.99

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About the Authors
  • The Melanesians of Goodenough Island, off the eastern coast of New Guinea, have developed the principle of gift-giving to an extraordinary degree. Instead of resorting to arms in their quarrels or demanding compensation for offences, they present enemies and offenders with pigs and yams in order to shame them. This custom of coercive gift-giving operates at various organizational levels and through two main institutional forms: competitive food exchange and festivals. Dr Young analyses in depth the social and political structure of a single village, dealing in detail with its system of social control and those vexed topics of Melanesian ethnography - leadership and sorcery. Of particular interest is the author's description of the configuration of values which makes food-giving-to-shame meaningful to the Goodenough Islander for whom 'happiness is a rotting yam', and the worst evil 'hunger-producing sorcery'. The careful use of case material gives vivid insights into the lifestyle, world view and humanity of these proud and fractious people.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521107662
    • length: 312 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Island and its people
    2. Profile of Kalauna: settlement and residence
    3. Kinship and marriage
    4. Clanship and custom
    5. Leadership
    6. Social control
    7. The social value of food: full gardens and small bellies
    8. The social value of food: empty gardens and big bellies
    9. Competitive food exchanges: the ethnography of abutu
    10. Competitive food exchanges and social control
    11. Festivals.

  • Author

    Michael W. Young


    W. E. H. Stanner

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