Volume 111 2002 > Volume 111, No. 3 > Reviews, p 259-296
BOURKE, R.M., M.G. Allen and J.G. Salisbury: Food Security for Papua New Guinea. Proceedings of the Papua New Guinea Food and Nutrition 2000 Conference, Papua New Guinea University of Technology, Lae, 26-30 June 2000. Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, Proceedings No. 99. Canberra: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, 2001. xviii + 892 pp., bib., figs, maps, photos, tables, n.p. (paper).
JON BARNETT University of Melbourne
This book is a rich source of qualitative and quantitative information about food security in Papua New Guinea. While all chapters are oriented towards the subject of food security, they collectively cover an incredibly diverse array of perspectives, methods and disciplines. The contributors represent a good mix of foreign (largely Australian) and Papua New Guinean researchers, and include some valuable and refreshing perspectives from local people, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and policy-makers. (Inter)disciplines contributing to this volume include agricultural science, anthropology (whose contributions are the most informative to my mind), biology, development studies, economics, geography, health and nutrition science, and meteorology.
Food Security for Papua New Guinea contains 116 short, informative chapters spread out over 12 major sub-sections, including sections on food security in general, food production and policy, the impact of and responses to the 1997 drought and frosts, resource management, nutrition, agricultural information and extension, sweet potato production (nine chapters but this is justified given that it provides 30 percent of calories to rural people), other root crops, animal production, and non-root crops. To me, the highlights of this book are Gibson's data on food production and demand, and the very informative chapters from Matthew Allen (on food security on Malo Island in Vanuatu), Bourke (his initial overview chapter), Byford (on women's work), Glazebrook (on the subsistence efforts of West Papuan refugees in Western Province), Igua (personal reflections on the 1997 drought), Jonathon and Mogina (each on responses to the 1997 drought in Milne Bay Province), Robinson (on responses to the drought at Lake Kopiago), and Allen and Bourke (overview chapter on the 1997 drought and frosts). Many of these chapters on the drought are exceptional because they document, with quantitative and qualitative data, the ways in which societies adapted to environmental change—a subject that will become increasingly important in light of climate change. These chapters, then, offer important analogies that can guide efforts in planning and policy for adaptation to the effects of climate change.
The book is strongly empirical and very policy-oriented in nature. Readers looking for highly theoretical and critical insights into food security in Papua New Guinea - 260 would be advised to look elsewhere, but not before reading Peter Barter's somewhat muted but nevertheless critical appraisal of the Australian and New Guinea governments' responses to the 1997-98 drought.
This lack of broader critical analysis is perhaps the book's only weakness as there are some open-ended questions that arise from the diversity of contributors. The tension between development and food security lurks throughout this book, and would have profited from a more direct examination. One example is John Hunt's promotion of the Asian Development Bank's (ADB) scheme to contract out agricultural extension services, which seems vastly at odds with public sentiment in PNG about the role of multilateral financial institutions which many NGO's see to be largely responsible for what Allen et al. describe as the “poor and declining provision of services in rural PNG” (p.548). To offer a second example, many authors argue that small cash savings enabled rural people to purchase rice during the 1997 drought, and so ensured their survival. This does not sit so comfortably with the perspective of some contributors, such as Lucas Velin, who writes that in the past the “rapid increase in cash crop development, and in people's total dependence on these crops to earn money, meant they were totally ignoring the importance of food production to feed the family” (p.79). The environmental, cultural and economic effects of development and aid on food security are many, and not always as positive and straightforward as some authors, such as those from the ADB, AusAid, Chevron Niugini and Ok Tedi Mining might suggest. The critical and contentious question of land tenure is also not tackled as directly as one might hope.
The conclusions and recommendations of this book are succinct and offer some practical steps to increase food security in Papua New Guinea. They neatly summarise the key issues raised in the book, including the role of new plant species and the cash economy in increasing food security, the vulnerability of the poorest and most remote rural communities, the critical need to maintain transport and communications infrastructure, the need for better coordination across service providers, and the need for better access to information. In this latter respect the book serves a valuable function in consolidating many years of research into one single volume. I hope it will be widely available to the people who can most benefit from its contents.
Food Security for Papua New Guinea is an exceptionally well-edited and well-presented book. Its diversity, comprehensiveness and wealth of data make it a benchmark publication on food security in Papua New Guinea. It cannot be bypassed by anyone interested in the field.- 261
FISCHER, Steven R. (ed.): Possessive Markers in Central Pacific Languages. Special issue of Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 53(3/4), 2000. 147 pp., bib., figs, tables, n.p. (paper).
ANNA MARGETTS University of Melbourne
This special issue of STUF gives an excellent overview of possessive marking in the Central Pacific languages of the Oceanic subgroup of Austronesian, that is, the languages of Fiji, Rotuma and Polynesia. The book provides a good account of the historical development of possessive marking as well as detailed descriptions of the marking in the individual languages and dialect chains.
Possessive markers play a central role in the grammar of Oceanic languages in that they fulfil many functions beyond the expression of possessive relations. Many of the articles address the extensive use of these markers in nominalization, relative clauses, benefactive expressions and other constructions.
Given that the Central Pacific languages form one of the better-described Oceanic subgroups, the book perhaps contains relatively little truly new information, and several of the articles draw extensively on earlier work on particular languages and on Wilson's 1982 study of Proto-Polynesian possessive marking. The book's merits lie more in gathering and summarising information, resulting in a remarkable and useful resource on possessive marking, its historical development and the morpho-syntactic and semantic distinctions found in today's Central Pacific languages.
The first part of the book gives an introduction to the origin and development of possessive marking in the Central Pacific languages. John Lynch provides a historical background of possessive markers in Proto Oceanic and Central Pacific. Paul Geraghty describes possessive constructions in Fijian, Hans Schmidt in Rotuman and Ross Clark gives an overview of the Polynesian languages.
The second part of the book contains articles on possessive marking in individual Polynesian languages. The languages represented are Tongan (Giovanni Bernardo), Niuean (Diane Massam and Wolfgang Sperlich), Tokelauan (Robin Hooper), Pileni (Åshild Næss), East Uvean (Claire Moyse-Faurie), Rapanui (Steven Roger Fisher), Hawaiian (Kenneth William Cook) and Māori (Ray Harlow).
John Lynch's “Historical Overview of Central Pacific Possessive Markers” describes the continuation of Proto Oceanic to Proto Central Pacific possessive marking with only minor, mostly phonological, changes. More significant changes occurred in the stages post Proto Central Pacific. They affected the merger of passive and food possession in Fijian and the loss of the direct construction in Rotuman and Proto Polynesian.
Paul Geraghty describes “Possession in the Fijian Languages” and gives an overview of nominal and pronominal possession and a detailed account of the distribution and form of possessive markers in the Fijian languages including an interesting excursus on totem possession. He concludes by revisiting the hypothesis that Proto Polynesian is most closely related to the languages of Vanua Levu.- 262
Hans Schmidt in “Possessive Markers in Rotuman” discusses the morpho-syntax of pronominal and nominal possessors and the semantic distinction between the general possessive marker 'e and the marker 'o which is restricted to consumable objects. Rotuman differs from Polynesian languages in lacking direct possessive constructions as well as the distinction between alienable and inalienable possession.
Ross Clark describes “Possessive Markers in Polynesian Languages” and provides an overview of the morpho-syntax of the possessive phrases and the commonly found n- and m- prefixes. Most Polynesian languages show a distinction between A and O possession, i.e., between two paradigms of possessive markers, one featuring the vowel a and one the vowel o. The choice of marker (with a or with o) depends on the semantics of the possessive relation, and Clark presents a summary of the relevant semantic principles.
Giovanni Bernardo discusses “Possessive Markers in Tongan: A Conceptual Approach”. Drawing on work by Taumoefolau and Jackendoff, he suggests a cognitive linguistic approach to the distinction between A and O possession in Tongan based on spatial representation.
Diane Massam and Wolfgang Sperlich give an account of “Possession in Niuean”. The Niuean system is atypical within Polynesian in lacking an A/O distinction. The authors focus on the morpho-syntax of possessive constructions but also describe the fundamental relation between both location and agentivity and possession.
Robin Hooper discusses “Possessive Markers in Tokelauan”. She starts with the morphology of possessive markers and then gives a detailed account of the semantics of possessor marking, discussing how the parameter of control over the possessive relationship applies to the choice between A and O possession in Tokelauan.
Åshild Næss describes the morpho-syntactic and semantic aspects of “Possessive Marking in Pileni” where the alienable/inalienable distinction is responsible for the choice of construction type but does not play a role in the choice between A and O forms.
Claire Moyse-Faurie gives an account of “Possessive Markers in East Uvean (Faka'uvea)” and describes the range of context and functions in which possessive constructions are used. In a section on valency and possession she highlights the East Uvean preference for intransitive clauses with possessive constructions over transitive ergative constructions with two arguments.
The last three papers in the volume describe the very similar possessive-marking systems of three Eastern Polynesian languages.
Steven Roger Fischer presents “Possessive Markers in Rapanui”. Following the template of Harlow's article on Māori in this volume, he discusses the different types of possessive constructions as well as the use of possessive morphology for purposes other than possession.
Kenneth William Cook discusses “Possessive Markers in Hawaiian”, including the A/O distinction, morpho-syntactic types of possessives, and the use of possessives with relative clauses and nominalisations. He also revisits the notion of control and elaborates on some of the proposals made by Wilson in 1982.
Finally Ray Harlow with “Possessive Markers in Māori” presents a morpho-syntactic description of possessive markers, the instantiation of the A/O distinction - 263 in Māori and the use of possessive markers in “non-possessive” contexts.
This collection of articles provides an extensive overview and a wealth of detail that allows close comparison between the possessive marking systems in the Central Pacific languages.
HAMEL, Jill: The Archaeology of Otago. Wellington: Department of Conservation, 2001. xii + 222 pp., apps, bib., figs, glossary, index, maps, photos, tables, n.p. (paper).
SIMON HOLDAWAY University of Auckland
As explained in the Preface to The Archaeology of Otago, at the end of the 1980s the Department of Conservation commissioned a series of studies designed to document the full range of sites in the conservancy as a means of determining the significance of sites under departmental control. The present volume is the most recent in a series that has included studies of archaeological sites in Marlborough-Nelson, Canterbury and, most recently, Taranaki-Wanganui. The Archaeology of Otago is by far the most substantial of these studies, however, leading the Department of Conservation to produce the book as a stand-alone publication.
In the Preface, Atholl Anderson draws parallels between The Archaeology of Otago and his own When All The Moa Ovens Grew Cold (Dunedin: Otago Heritage Books, 1983), and Hamel's book certainly provides an up to date synthesis of the prehistory of Otago with sections on moa hunting, settlements (defended pa, terraces and houses), and change from early to classic villages. It is the second part of the book, however, that sets this work apart from other regional prehistories. In Part Two, a detailed introduction is provided to the bulk of the archaeological sites recorded in Otago—those dating to the period after European colonisation. In this section, archaeological sites connected with whaling, early forms of transportation and farming are described. But by far the largest part of this section is devoted to archaeological sites connected with gold mining, reflecting both the visibility of these sites and the level of archaeological interest devoted to their study through projects such as the Clutha Archaeological Project. The section on historical archaeology is beautifully illustrated with a large number of photographs of historic archaeological sites including a number of areal shots attributed to Kevin Jones. There is also a section of colour plates in the centre of the book, again predominantly showing historical archaeological sites.
The section on prehistoric archaeology is less profusely illustrated although some diagrams and drawings from Anderson's books and articles on southern New Zealand prehistory are reproduced. A common base map is reproduced throughout the book and used to display the location of different categories of sites. Surprisingly, none of these maps have scales. The text is easy to read, a fact commented on by Anderson in his forward, and technical terms are dealt with in a glossary. Eleven appendices provide a range of additional data from lists of radiocarbon - 264 determinations, through tabulations of sites containing moa bone, small bird bones and marine mammal bones, to an inventory of farmsteads with sketch plans.
There is a noticeable difference in format between the section on prehistoric archaeology and that dealing with historic sites. The prehistoric section is written as an economic prehistory with moa hunting sites described in a chapter entitled “Natural Resources”. In this section, Hamel was clearly able to draw on a wealth of published material that has come from studies by Anderson and his colleagues at the University of Otago. As a result, descriptions of prehistoric sites are merged with a consideration of changes in economy and subsistence patterns between early and later sites. An early settlement pattern based around villages such as Shag Mouth is contrasted with the later introduction of permanent settlement at the end of prehistory. The section on historic archaeology seems more site based, although there are brief introductions to initial European settlement and gold mining. Rather than being organised around an historical narrative, this section deals with categories of field evidence: the archaeology of whaling stations and farmsteads, and sites relating to alluvial gold mining and quartz mining.
This difference raises a question of the purpose of a publication series by the Department of Conservation devoted to regional prehistories. While The Archaeology of Otago will no doubt find a good audience among students and public alike, the book on its own can only form the background to a conservation strategy for Otago archaeological sites. Lacking are detailed considerations of the threats imposed by natural erosion and human development to archaeological sites in the region, although there are comments throughout the book that some sites have been heavily damaged or destroyed through a variety of processes. Lacking also is a specific assessment of how sites are to be preserved within a landscape context, although again there are hints in the sections dealing with the archaeology of gold mining that the conventional site-based approach is not very effective. Such considerations may well have been outside the brief given to the author, but they are the very considerations that should be the concern of the Department of Conservation. Conservation is about preserving a record for future generations, not simply about synthesising what is already known. Hamel, to her credit, provides indications about where future work should be directed, but these directions are by no means the major thrust of the book.
The Archaeology of Otago is a good synthesis of the current literature, both the published accounts and the so-called grey literature of heritage management reports. However its publication by the Department of Conservation, rather than within the New Zealand Archaeological Association Monograph Series, raises a number of questions. Hamel notes that the Department embarked on the project of commissioning regional archaeological syntheses on the basis of a report written more than ten years ago. It is perhaps time that the rationale for these syntheses be reassessed.- 265
HANLON, David and Geoffrey M. White: Voyaging Through the Contemporary Pacific. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publisher, Inc., 2000. xi + 443 pp., bib., figs, map, photos. Price: US$75.00 (cloth), US$24.95 (paper).
MICAH VAN DER RYN University of Auckland
In this one volume can be found many of the best essays printed over the last ten years in the Journal of the Contemporary Pacific. Drawing from experiences in all three assumed culture areas of Oceania, 19 contributing authors (including the editors)—many of them indigenous scholars and writers of the Pacific—challenge many of the assumptions and conceptions upon which former scholarship, as well as common perceptions, of the Pacific have been based. Their provocative and diverse perspectives on various topics important to anthropology, area studies, the arts and history contribute valuable insights into some of the current debates about identity, development, scholarship, representation and decolonisation in the Pacific. The volume is divided into four thematic sections: Re-imagining the Pacific, The Politics and Poetics of History, Cultural Politics and Cultural Media(tions). The content and thematic organisation of the essays produces a concert of ideas and arguments that may satiate the intellectual appetite of anyone interested in contemporary issues in Pacific scholarship and arts.
In summary, Part One—“Re-imagining the Pacific”—examines and analyses Australian perceptions of Pacific Islands and peoples (Greg Fry); indigenous knowledge and definition of development in Malaita, Solomon Islands (David Gegeo); the gender and political implications of Westerners naming a skimpy woman's bathing suit—the Bikini—after the Marshall Islands atoll exploited for U.S. atomic testing (Teresia Teaiwa); and the fallacy of using the Western view of the Pacific Islands as tiny isolated and remote dots of land in a big ocean (Epeli Hau'ofa). The essays in Part One carry the underlying messages that scholarship in and of the Pacific must start with “re-imagining” the island world of Oceania if this scholarship is to help guide a process of decolonised, self-determined development and that “Re-imagining the Pacific” first requires deconstructing existing perceptions, assumptions and attitudes shaping research and development approaches in Oceania.
Part Two's essays examine ways of representing events and people from the past, and the political implications of this process—the trope of history. Greg Dening argues for a history in the Pacific versus a history of the Pacific. Vicente Diaz chronicles the history of Chamorro cultural identity and survival in Guam, one of the most heavily colonised and culturally contacted of Pacific Islands. Klaus Neumann analyses and deconstructs the concepts and discourses of “first-contact” between the native and European peoples in the Pacific (including Pacific continents). David Chappell focuses on the historiographic issue of conceptualising and representing Pacific Island peoples as either “passive victims” or as “active agents” in their colonial encounters with Europeans.- 266
Part Three continues the theme of political implications of representation in Pacific Island scholarship, but here the trope being investigated is culture and its corollaries of tradition and custom, particularly as they are being evaluated and applied within socio-cultural anthropology. The central issue under debate is whether contemporary Pacific Island peoples (or their leaders) are to some extent “inventing” their culture(s)—making up modern myths of a cultural past—as a political tool to legitimise contemporary social structures and agendas. Roger Keesing presents an argument in favour of this school of thought, drawing examples mainly from New Caledonia, Solomon Islands and Fiji. Keesing is followed by the Hawaiian activist and scholar Haunani-Kay Trask who presents her arguments against the “invention of culture” paradigm. Trask also takes Keesing, as well as other anthropologists, to task, pointing out the damage she sees the “invention of culture” school as having caused indigenous movements, such as those in Hawai'i. In the next two essays, both Keesing and Jocelyn Linnekin make their own replies and defenses, each pointing out that they are active supporters of indigenous Pacific movements and that they do not harbour subversive agendas. Keesing criticises Trask for drawing racial lines (with cultural affiliations) to disguise the real internal divisions of class and interest existing within contemporary indigenous cultural groups. Linnekin questions the personal nature and frequency of Trask's attacks on her, criticises Trask for grouping all anthropologists and their work together, and points out some important theoretical differences between Keesing's understanding and use of the “invention-of-tradition” paradigm and her own. Margaret Jolly's essay adds further insight to the debate, challenging the dichotomy in the literature that views culture as either unconscious “authentic tradition” or as conscious “inauthentic tradition” used as “manipulative rhetoric of contemporary politicians”. The last essay of Part Three by Ben Finney gives a firsthand account of a ceremony that took place in Taputaputea on the island of Ra'iatea in 1995 to celebrate the revival of traditional Polynesian canoe voyaging. Finney uses this sacred ceremony, which in part was an attempt to re-enact a ritual that took place among the ancestors of the participants centuries before, as a useful platform on which to apply many of the ideas of this debate.
Part Four—Cultural Media(tions)—contains four essays dealing with the role of cinema, radio and websites as ways that Pacific Island cultural identities are being presented, shaped and understood. Christina Thompson critiques Alan Duff's screen play for the popular film Once Were Warriors in which Māori communities are depicted as flailing under the social ills of alcoholism, domestic violence and economic dependence on the government dole in New Zealand. Rehsela DuPuis critiques the popular 1993 film The Piano, written and directed by New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion. Lissant Bolton examines the development and implications of radio broadcasts in Vanuatu on the topic of Kastom. Bolton describes the importance of radio for communication in Vanuatu and the role that radio has had in shaping understanding of Kastom there. Alan Howard's essay on the development and use of a world-wide web site on Rotuma demonstrates how this most modern form of media technology is helping to create virtual communities of Pacific-based peoples.- 267
Voyaging through the Contemporary Pacific is a collection of stimulating and provocative essays delving into a variety of political, historical, cultural and social concerns in the experiences of contemporary Pacific Islanders. These concerns relate to issues of identity, representation and decolonisation processes, and should be considered essential reading to anyone interested in contemporary social, political and cultural issues in the Pacific Islands.
HOOPER, Antony (ed.): Culture and Sustainable Development in the Pacific. Canberra: Asia Pacific Press, 2000. xv + 227 pp., apps, bib., notes, tables. Price: $A20 (paper).
MIKE EVANS University of Alberta
As an anthropologist reading this book I find much to recommend it. The book is eclectic, drawing its 18 articles and orientation everywhere from contemporary anthropological theory (notably work by Marshall Sahlins and 'Epeli Hau'ofa) to current approaches, through somewhat detailed analyses of the ramifications of sustainable development on aspects of particular cultures, to a series of articles on locally and regionally orientated ecotourism and heritage tourism. One danger of such an approach is a lack of coherence, but a potential benefit is that the reader is challenged by a series of different assumptions and expectations. For the most part this volume realises a positive dialogue between policy makers, planners and commentators on the political-cultural economy of the contemporary Pacific, and the reader, at least this reader, is the beneficiary.
The volume comes from a UNESCO sponsored conference held in Suva in 1997. It demonstrates how such conferences—where participants can speak, listen and talk with one another—can promote a constructive dialogue and challenging results. What the realpolitik consequences of the conference have been I can only guess, but certainly the book reflects an honest and thoughtful attempt at communication and offers the reader a range of things to think with and about.
One of the most poignant chapters is written by Robert Norton, who reflects on the roles of Fijian chiefs in the rapprochement of the Indo and Indigenous Fijian peoples taking place at the time of the conference. From the vantage point of hindsight the notion that Fijian chiefs can provide an avenue to the creation and maintenance of a plural society in Fiji seems quite (tragically) wrong. Yet when we reflect on the fact that one of the key elements leading to the recent deadlock was the marginalisation of chiefly leaders, the article seems almost prescient. This is only one of many articles in the book that reflect respectfully on the part that culture and tradition might play in promoting sustainable development, but it is typical of the book's tone.
The key terms of the book, culture, sustainable and development, are all heavily loaded both conceptually and politically; the manner in which the terms come together is frequently highly charged and important. Given the variety of approaches - 268 taken in the book, it is perhaps not surprising that the terms are used in sometimes contradictory ways. Again, a significant strength of the book is just this, the way the tensions between positions on these key issues are shown.
For me, one particularly interesting example of this came to mind while reading the article by Hana Ayala entitled “Vaka Moana—A Road Map for the South Pacific”. In this piece the writer makes a persuasive case for developing a regionally— oriented tourist route which draws on both the beauty of “nature” in the Pacific and intrinsic appeal of Oceanic “culture” for ecotourists. Ecotourism, the author argues, demands and promotes the “conservation” of both Oceanic environments and cultures, to the benefit of the people of Oceania. A problem with this approach is that the peoples of Oceania may both require and desire cultural change rather than cultural conservation (whatever that might be) as part of sustainable development. Indeed this is a key element of other articles in the book. Development, sustainable or not, and conservation are difficult to reconcile if conservation means the absence of change. If, however, by conservation we mean the protection of key values and traditional practice/praxis (à la Marshall Sahlins), then perhaps reconciliation is possible. The tensions exposed by Ayala's contribution are one example of why this book in particular, and this sort of volume in general, are worthwhile; careful readers cannot help but reflect critically on their own thinking, their own use of terms like sustainable development or culture. Where such reflection might end is an open question, but the absence of such contemplation is truly dangerous. Many people hold that bio-diversity and cultural diversity are fundamental aspects of sustainable development; this book demonstrates that diversity in points of view may be intrinsic to policy-making and planning for sustainable development as well.
LAMB, Jonathan, Vanessa Smith, and Nicholas Thomas (eds): Exploration and Exchange: A South Seas Anthology 1680-1900. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. xxv + 359 pp., bib., index, map. Price: US$18.00 (paper).
K.R. HOWE Massey University, Albany Campus
The purpose is to provide “extracts from key texts arising from contacts in the Pacific” (p.xi). These texts aim “to be broadly representative of the writings of British and American explorers, mariners, missionaries, and visitors to the Pacific” (p.xi). The result, it is claimed, is “a resource to enable teachers and students to engage with primary materials, some of which are otherwise difficult to obtain” (p.xi).
The texts are not intended to “describe the operations of a monolithic discourse of imperialism” (p.xv). Nor are they to locate “the stereotypical or formulaic” (p.xv). Instead they are to “identify moments in accounts of cross-cultural contact that challenge our own postcolonial complacencies” (p.xv). No “ready-made model or theory” is presented but the “aim instead [is] to provide students with a set of readings that might open a fresh theoretical perspective upon the problems these - 269 texts raise” (p.xv).
It appears to be useful, open, and editorially hands-off. But is it?
The selection of texts is itself problematic. Why only British and American works? One glaring gap is French and Spanish sources. Many of the selections are very short, and so appear decontextualised. How can complex characters—like Cook, or Hawkesworth, or Forster etc.—be effectively represented by a few pages of their prose? Moreover, it is hardly a novel collection of writers on the Pacific—indeed it is a clichéd list. Nor are most of the texts difficult to access. And why are the texts selected to “illuminate the complexities of representation and narrative in the liminal zone of culture contact” (p.xi)? What are they selected not to represent? Why is there emphasis on “significant [to whom?] themes—including those of mutiny, utopia, cannibalism, taboo, and hybridity” (p.xi)? Is it a voyeuristic selection? Why are the texts divided and chronologically arranged into the hackneyed categories of adventurers and explorers, beachcombers and missionaries, and literary travellers? Why not a geographic or thematic organisation? The selection and organisation is thus both consciously and unconsciously contrived.
More seriously, the introduction is tendentious and prolix. Claims of the anthology's interpretive openness are belied by heavy editorial opinion. For example, in the brief discussion of the Sahlins-Obeyesekere debate over the death of Cook, Obeyesekere is grossly misrepresented and written off with the comment that his work is “little more than an update of Alan Moorehead's evocation of the ‘fatal impact’” (p.xiv).
Equally disturbing is the editors' frequent opposition to “totalising” practices, except when they chose to employ them—notably in comment about “postcolonial orthodoxy” (p.xvii) (whatever that is), and more especially when they consider the “much longer tradition” of European perceptions of Islanders and Oceania. Here they embark upon a long critique of the proposition that Islanders were seen as either noble or ignoble savages in encounter situations. But this misrepresents a longstanding and very complex historical literature.
One of the difficulties with cultural and literary studies' relatively recent discovery of the Pacific is that there is commonly a considerable unfamiliarity with Pacific historical scholarship. Such work, which has long demonstrated complexity and contingency as well as many other fundamental encounter themes, seems either unknown or overlooked in favour of “new” interpretations of culture contact that result from “critical” readings of a very limited range of texts. But the claimed novelty can often be old-hat, otherwise unremarkable, or even unreliable when considered alongside other scholarship.
So I am left wondering somewhat about the contribution that this anthology makes to our understanding of encounter. If it is mainly to indicate a common European condition of confusion and complexity then I am not sure that too much progress has been made. But neither am I even sure whether the ultimate goal of the collection is to say something about the writers, their texts and contexts, or Pacific locations and cultures.- 270
Anthologising South Seas literature was once a common and respectable practice. But the genre has long since fallen out of fashion. The idea of the canon and/or text book for students has been deemed prescriptive and hegemonic in our post-imperial times. So it is somewhat surprising to see this publication, especially by authors whose previous well-known works on Pacific Islands encounter themes have all variously emphasised notions of uncertainty, contingency, specificity, layered contextualising, cross-cultural mis/understanding, and the liminality of inter-cultural spaces/places.
In this anthology, there is too much editorial certainty about uncertainty. The editors either have not seen, or have not adequately worked through, this inherent contradiction.
NEICH, Roger: Carved Histories: Rotorua Ngati Tarawhai Woodcarving. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2001. xv + 423 pp., apps, bib., figs, index, maps, photos, tables. Price: NZ$89.95 (cloth).
ELIZABETH CORY-PEARCE Goldsmiths College, University of London
Māori carving is a fascinating art form that captivates the imagination of the public and academic alike. On this subject, Neich's Carved Histories presents, in unprecedented detail, the culmination of three decades of field, literature and museum-based research. Its contextualised and well-reasoned interpretations set a scholarly standard other art-anthropological and art-historical publications would do well to emulate. Following Neich's highly regarded Painted Histories, the eagerly anticipated Carved Histories is indeed a positive addition to the literature. Extensive research was carried out in the Rotorua Lakes region of central North Island, New Zealand, and in museum and private collections around the world. However, the volume retains cohesiveness, connecting back to a singular carving origin: the Ngati Tarawhai people of Lake Okataina. Using ethnographic and historical inquiries, the author makes intelligible the complex topic of continuity and change in an ethnic art form undergoing colonial interaction.
Joseph Te Poroa Malcolm's foreword summarises key aspects of the publication from a Ngati Tarawhai perspective. His acknowledgements demonstrate the quality of research relationships cultivated between Ngati Tarawhai and Neich, and the local value of his work. A concise introduction provides an overview of the subject detailed in later chapters: namely how and why early 20th century carving practices differed from prior customary arrangements. Neich's art-historical approach of documenting changes in particular attributed works is enhanced by location, since the names and dates associated with Māori meeting houses provide a specificity most unusual in ethnic art studies in the Pacific and elsewhere.
The next six chapters focus on Ngati Tarawhai accounts of early settlements within the genealogically linked tribal canoe area; acute experiences of the wider world in the form of muskets, missionaries, settlers and land wars; and the political and religious restructurings that followed into the late 19th century. Attention is - 271 given to ritual and carving expertise within Ngati Tarawhai, whose specialised carvers provided services to other regional kin and wider non-kin groups. Previously overlooked intricacies documented by Neich reveal pre-European trade networks exchanging complex blends of traditional and novel goods. A pertinent point to be drawn here is Neich's cogent critique of an assumed divide between pre-European traditional and post-European commercial genres: carving for traditional purposes was an economic transaction since the mid-19th century, a point returned to in subsequent chapters to explain the smooth transition from Māori to European commercial patronage at the turn of the 20th century.
In Chapters 8, 9 and 10, broader academic theories of art are considered. In particular, 19th century colonial European attitudes to art are examined and contrasted with tentative, yet convincing, suggestions of Māori evaluations of carving based on traditional oral accounts. There is fruitful discussion here of European formal aesthetics contrasted with the prioritisation of semantic content in Māori carving. Neich explores these themes in Chapters 11 and 12 from the perspective of Māori practitioners, and in relation to canoe forms and various architectural structures. In Chapters 13 and 14, issues of power and control emerge from the pivotal consideration of Māori and European patronage relationships; Chapter 15 is devoted to consideration of one particular patronage category: tourist art.
The remaining five chapters address the effects of European patronage: notably a heightened consciousness of oneself as “artist” in the European sense, and the artistic consequences arising from this, demonstrated in the oeuvres of particular carvers. These stylistic analyses identify outward formal expressions of individual carving parole, distinct from an underlying shared semantic langue or grammar, and highlight those changes in parole deep enough to indicate structural change. These investigations suggest complicated networks of covert control: if Māori were generous and co-operative, exerting little overt control, compared to tight-fisted and didactic European patrons, the paradox remains that the most innovative and experimental works were European commissions. To expound the paradox, Neich demonstrates that European patronage effected a disembodiment of form from the meaningful beliefs operating as less overt controls in Māori contexts. In so doing, artistic self-consciousness could emerge, encouraging an understanding of carving as the expression of individual genius rather than a vehicle of ancestral power expressing community values. There is rich reward in Neich's discussion of experimentation with European perspective techniques and pictorial effects in early 20th century works, a response to audience requirements for more obvious, literal illustrations of mythology. The author's comments on remarkable parallels in the contact history of Canadian Northwest Coast carving are worth noting. While excessively generalising ethnological comparisons have been wisely abandoned, these informative remarks recall the potential of such approaches when grounded in the detailed caution characteristic of Neich's scholarship.
Carefully designed and clearly laid out, this densely informative book makes surprisingly effortless reading. Neich's down-to-earth writing style enables him to present complex observations in a concise and convincing manner. Replete with historical and recent photography, the reader can sense Neich's object-rich - 272 methodology in which carvings are primary historical documents, not merely apt illustrations. Although this fieldwork method is one of immersion in local communities and engagement with the things they carve, it sits in tension with subsequent linguistic analyses. Neich argues that the potential of structuralism and semiotics for collection-based analyses of art-historical traditions has not been fully exploited, proffering his work as thorough grounds on which to base further theoretical exploration. The issue raised—whether abstracted linguistic analogies best inform theoretical analyses of material things—lies at the core of much vigorous debate on relationships between (speaking) persons and (non-speaking) objects. Given the remarkable accomplishments of Neich's object-rich fieldwork methodology, it seems apt to consider future theoretical approaches that would enhance fertile tensions between verbalisation and materialisation. It is, after all, physical materiality that has enabled the preservation and transmission of knowledge contained in carvings from generations of carvers to future generations who may study them. These critical remarks are given not to detract from the immense success of this outstanding volume, but as constructive suggestions for the future research this more than exemplary case study shall inspire.
ROBERTSON, Robbie and William Sutherland: Government by the Gun: The Unfinished Business of Fiji's 2000 Coup. Annandale: Pluto Press Australia, 2001. xix + 169 pp., glossary, index, notes. Price: A$34.95 (paper).
BRIJ V. LAL Australian National University
This tract is the work of two politically committed and longstanding academic observers of the Fiji scene known for their attachment to, and espousal of, a class analysis of that country's politics and society. Predictably it draws heavily on their previous work. New details are added, but the overall framework is familiar. The information on Fiji's recent political upheavals comes almost exclusively from popular journalism, which is understandable, but it would have been useful to actually talk to some protagonists whose actions and motivations are assessed critically here—Sitiveni Rabuka, for instance—rather than rely on confused and often contradictory reports in the media. Contrary perspectives on contemporary Fiji are either ignored or dismissed, to the book's disadvantage in my view because unless the ideology that sustains the power structure in Fiji is properly considered, we are not likely to get anywhere. But a nuanced and contextualised reading of the by now extensive literature on the coup-inspired political and economic problems of contemporary Fiji is not the authors' main objective. Their argument has a particular point of view and a definite agenda, and they pursue them determinedly.
The problem they are concerned with is this: Fijians have controlled political power for nearly 40 years and yet the majority of the indigenous population feels “neglected and isolated”. Why should this be so? Because the Fijian leaders have hoodwinked their people, enacting legislation and promulgating programmes in the name of the Fijian masses but in truth skimming off the cream for themselves. - 273 They blamed everyone else, especially the Indians, for the poor plight of their people, thereby deflecting attention from their own predatory activities. “They have used the rhetoric of the paramountcy of Fijian interests to hide the reality of the paramountcy of elite Fijian interests. The interests of the Fijian masses have always come a distant second,” the authors proclaim boldly (p.xviii).
This is made all the more objectionable because modern Fijian identity and tradition, which among other things place chiefs at the apex of the indigenous hierarchy, are a concoction of the colonial state, that imposed “on Fijian cultural diversity a homogeneity and uniformity that previously did not exist” (p.51). The chiefs and the colonial state forged a mutually convenient coalition of interests. The state needed “chiefly support to control the Fijian masses” (p.58), and the chiefs, particularly from the east, needed the state to buttress their position against Fijian dissidents and recalcitrants. The colonially-contrived institutions of the 19th century are beginning to come apart at the seams, because forces which sustained them, such as the fear of Indian dominance, can no longer be invoked convincingly to mobilise traditional support. The story really is more complex than this as the reader will see for himself or herself upon a closer acquaintance with the published scholarly literature.
Where to from here? At the “heart of Fiji's problem lies the indigenous question”, the authors argue, and unless that issue is addressed, all efforts to find peace and prosperity for the troubled islands will come to naught. The way forward, they suggest, is to develop a broad ranging “Developing the Nation” strategy that would develop a proper study of Fijian history so that people are aware of the deeper fissures and class contradictions in it, examine the question of nationality and the place of Fijian interests and concerns within it, decipher the pattern of the economy and resource distribution so that who actually gets what is properly understood, and, finally, “revamp” state and indigenous institutions to realise the above objectives. In short, the ball is strictly in the Fijian court.
Much of this is admirable, and one hopes that the movers and shakers of Fijian society will pay due attention to the general thrust of the arguments developed here. They deserve attention, but some of their force is blunted by the ideological assumptions and understandings that inform the analysis. It is, of course, true that all Fijians are not peas in the same pod. They are, indeed, divided “by commoner and chiefly status, by ethnic origin, by language and geography” (p.119). That is a part of the story, but only a part. The point about division should not be pushed too far. There are things that unite Fijians as a group and a community, whatever the sources of their origin might be: their religion, language, culture, a sense of shared heritage, membership of the vanua. Ethnicity is not false consciousness. An overarching sense of a common Fijian identity is a reality, however debated and contested it might be by Fijians themselves, however inauthentic or artificial its origins. It is often manipulated by politicians with agendas of their own, but its appeal and the role it plays in everyday life cannot be discounted.
Much is often made of regional differences and tensions in Fiji. East is different from the west, but the boundary is porous and now extensively criss-crossed by marriage and mobility and the trappings of modernity. During the 2000 coup, western - 274 Fijians briefly (and opportunistically) agitated for a separate confederacy of their own, but then generally endorsed the nationalist agenda, including making Fiji a Christian state. Apisai Tora's example shows that one can be an advocate of western Fijian interests (as he sees them) and a Fijian nationalist at the same time. Ratu Tevita Momoedonu, from the west, was a minister in Mahendra Chaudhry's government, but then switched sides, as did many others. The list is extensive.
I understand the authors' wish to focus on the “indigenous dimension” of the current crisis but am not sure that the problem can, or should be, understood in isolation. Mahendra Chaudhry has alleged that prominent Indo-Fijian businessmen were behind the destabilisation campaign and might have even supported the overthrow of his government. The nature of the relationship between this business elite and the Fijian elite, to use the authors' own terms, needs to be grasped to understand fully the recent crisis in Fiji. Nor can one ignore the importance of foreign commercial interests and the way they seek to insinuate themselves into the Fijian equation. Finally, individuals matter; they make a difference; they make their history in their own right and not merely as agents of social forces.
Robbie Robertson and William Sutherland have written a provocative account of contemporary problems in Fiji. One hopes that their views will be debated in Fiji itself, as they themselves very much desire. They will certainly be debated among scholars of Fijian history and politics.
SILLITOE, Paul: An Introduction to the Anthropology of Melanesia: Culture and Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. xxiii + 254 pp., figs, index, maps, photos, tables. Price: A$49.95 (paper).
SILLITOE, Paul: Social Change in Melanesia: Development and History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. xx + 264 pp., figs, index, maps, photos. Price: A$52.95 (paper).
THOMAS STRONG Princeton University
How does one introduce a topic as complex as the anthropology of Melanesia? The boggling diversity of Melanesian cultures is complemented by a sometimes bewildering array of ethnographic and analytical approaches. Paul Sillitoe aims to introduce these to students and general readers in two companion volumes, one devoted to “Culture and Tradition,” the other to “Development and History.” Bravely, Sillitoe intends not only to familiarise students, but also “to develop a coherent perspective” on “Melanesian society” (p.xxiii). And totalling over 500 pages, the books constitute something of a magnum opus. Do they succeed?
Some earlier introductory texts on Melanesia, such as Langness and Weschler's Melanesia: Readings on a Culture Area, sought to capture the diversity of cultures and ethnographic approaches by editing together the work of several authors. In the Culture and Tradition volume, Sillitoe opts instead to summarise in his own language several classic studies. Thus, ethnographic topics are linked to particular - 275 theoretical orientations and particular authors. Rappaport's studies of cultural ecology introduce swidden agriculture in the New Guinea highlands. Mead's work on socialisation on Manus Island is linked to theories of culture and personality. A chapter on kula contrasts formalist and substantivist orientations in economic anthropology and draws on the work of Malinowski, Weiner, Damon and others. Salt-making technology among the Anga (Highland New Guinea fringe) provides occasion for discussing Marxist theory (following the work of Godelier). Sillitoe's own work on Wola in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea covers what he calls “sociopolitical [read: ceremonial] exchange”. Marilyn Strathern's studies of gender relations in Mt Hagen (Highland New Guinea) are emblematic of feminist anthropology. Other regions, topics and authors include: initiation in the Sepik (Bateson), health and illness among Orokaiva (Williams), dispute resolution around the Paniai Lakes (Pospisil) and sorcery on Dobu (Fortune).
While this sounds like a Greatest Hits collection of Melanesian anthropology, specialists will notice a bias towards New Guinea ethnography. Eleven of the fourteen ethnographic chapters of Culture and Tradition provide examples from New Guinea. But for a student the apparent eclecticism of theoretical approaches may be more troubling. Sillitoe seems to endorse mutually contradictory perspectives on such complex phenomena as gender relations and ceremonial exchange. On pages 58 and 59, Manus socialisation patterns are explained via Freudian developmental concepts (oral, anal and phallic stages). Meanwhile, Chapter 9 makes reference to feminist critiques that have shown how Freudian (and other Western) constructs have inhibited anthropological understanding of men's and women's lives in Melanesia. Citing cultural ecology studies, Sillitoe notes that some Melanesians often produce far in excess of their subsistence needs (p.38, 47-51). Yet later he writes: “Melanesian people rarely strive to utilise their resources as fully as they might; they do not calculate economically at the margins but are invariably content with a certain modest level of production which adequately supplies their needs” (p. 123); “They seem, on current evidence, to have remained content with their lot for millennia” (p. 113).
While reproducing one pernicious stereotype about small-scale societies (that they have no history), these passages problematically occlude important studies that have demonstrated just the opposite. Melanesians should become famous for the finesse with which they try out cultural forms, innovate, intensify or abandon new practices. Studies of ceremonial exchange in the area of Sillitoe's own ethnographic experience (the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea) have shown that Melanesian agricultural regimes are subject to culturally-constituted demands for intensification. The peoples of Highland New Guinea at least have certainly not been “content” with subsistence equilibrium “for millennia”.
The edenic image of egalitarian subsistence farmers living in balance with nature and with each other via “sociopolitical exchange” is emblematic of a larger problem with these two texts. To be sure, Sillitoe self-consciously tries to rectify this pastoralism with discussions of sorcery, witchcraft and warfare. But those social practices turn out to enhance, even as they mitigate, orderly and egalitarian social relations: “…striving for blood-debt equivalence sustains the political equivalence - 276 of individuals in the context of a balance between conflicting social processes” (p. 190). A vague Durkheimianism runs throughout Culture and Tradition. In dividing Culture and Tradition from Development and History, Sillitoe implies that these two rubrics are in fact distinct domains. Although he admonishes the reader to remember that the use of the ethnographic present tense in anthropological narratives (including those in these volumes) is not meant to reflect a lack of history or social change among the peoples so described, the organisation of these texts implies just such a lack.
In turning to contemporary Melanesian cultures in the Development and History volume, topics such as kinship and exchange are thus displaced by attention to economic development, environmental pressures, urbanisation, private property and small-holder agriculture, reinforcing the idea that “traditional” topics (e.g., magic or myth) belong to a superseded past. Contemporary subjects (those just listed plus mining, ethnic conflict and politics in new states) each receive a chapter, and Sillitoe does a very good job of laying out the issues involved.
Generally, his emphasis in this volume is on the nascent inequalities that increasingly characterise Melanesian social life: inequalities between men and women, between entrepreneurs and subsistence farmers, and between resource-rich tribes and those with little opportunity for development. He makes frequent reference to “dependency theory”, and the ways in which new Melanesian states remain under-developed in the context of the contemporary world system. These inequalities conflict with the deeply held commitment to egalitarianism that characterises Melanesian cultures, and Sillitoe rejects the emphasis on classformation in dependency theory. “A marked ethos of egalitarianism continues to characterise social relationships…. Again, fear of offending their fellows' sense of equality… encourages people to share and prompts them to play down their success rather than highlight it with ostentatious material display” (p. 173). Still, Sillitoe notes the emerging national elites in Melanesian states, elites who sometimes exploit government connections to funnel money to themselves and their kin and who promote legislation that may enable new inequalities (such as the registration of customary lands).
Sillitoe's ethnographic impulse is somewhat romantic. Like other anthropologists, his admiration for the strongly egalitarian and democratic social organisation of Melanesian societies is visible. He emphasises “sharing” over “ostentatious display”, and he downplays the competitive tenor of Melanesian egalitarianism. Take for example this rendering of traditional gender relations: “The activities of women and men complement one another, with no necessary evaluation of one as superior to the other. Both are necessary to the orderly flow of social life. Both women and men have influence, and the household does not function without cooperation between them” (p. 102). He here makes oblique references to debates within feminist anthropology about the nature of gender inequality in Melanesia, but his synopsis might lead a new student to imagine that Melanesian men and women live in harmonious domesticity, a significant distortion of the content of those debates. Indeed, gender does not receive its own chapter in “Development and History”, and Sillitoe makes little reference to the sexual politics of modernity.- 277
Based on lectures, the chapters in these volumes vary greatly in detail and style. In Development and History, Sillitoe frequently quotes the work of other authors, including primary sources on mission history. These chapters seem rich and complex in contrast to the sometimes over-simplified presentation of ethnographic subjects in the Culture and Tradition volume. Sillitoe's knowledge of Melanesia is enormous, but this frequently gets the better of him: he has a habit of digressing. Thus, a chapter on state politics includes a discussion of illegal logging by Asian conglomerates that might have been more appropriate in his chapter on “Forestry and Local Knowledge”. His discussion of gender relations in the highlands of Papua New Guinea digresses into a synopsis of the “loose structure” debate of the 1960s without drawing explicit connections to the feminist literature.
Each chapter of both volumes is copiously illustrated with photographs, although sometimes the illustrations represent geographical areas outside those discussed in the chapter and Sillitoe rarely makes direct reference to the photos. He does occasionally include and comment on diagrams and charts, however the discussion often does little to illuminate the topic of the chapter. (One half-page diagram [p. 127] explains the “marxist model of political economy” in terms so schematic and simplified it might make the political economist blanch.) And each chapter includes a map with relevant geographical areas identified, although most of these maps cut Melanesia off in the middle of Bougainville. The suggested readings not infrequently include reports, working papers and research bulletins that might be difficult for a student in Peoria or Perth to locate.
Aiming to be comprehensive, this account might be more accurately called eclectic. Sillitoe displays impressive knowledge of the region and its scholarship. But his propensity to digress, and his tendency vaguely to endorse different theoretical orientations (social evolution, Marxism, psychoanalysis, structuralism, cultural ecology, functionalism) without achieving a synthesis is potentially confusing.
One could hardly expect an introductory text on a region with as vast and complex an anthropology as Melanesia to cover every possible topic, area or theoretical argument in detail. But the very economy of presentation and elegance of organisation of these two volumes is troubling. The over-all impression is of South Pacific idylls displaced and destroyed by the juggernaut of modernity. Is this likely to advance the understanding of students who may come to these texts with images of “the primitive” in mind? Will it reinscribe a meta-narrative of lost tribal paradise? Perhaps even introductory texts should reflect an emphasis on the historical contingency of Melanesian cultures and strive to represent them as always having been coeval with the rest of the world.- 278
SILVERMAN, Eric Kline: Masculinity, Motherhood, and Mockery: Psychoanalyzing Culture and the latmul Naven Rite in New Guinea. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2001. xv+ 243 pp., bib., figs, index, map, photos. Price: US$57.50 (cloth), US$22.95 (paper).
THOMAS STRONG Princeton University
The Iatmul naven is a ritual event whose name means “going on view”. What does it show? During naven, men and women mimic and mock each other, variously laughing at the social conventions of gender and crying at their psychic consequences. Men display their envy of female procreative ability; women mock that yearning and reveal themselves to be figures of disgust and repulsion. Female “mothers” symbolically squirt menstrual blood and fling faeces onto their “children.” Mother's brothers humiliate their nephews by “grooving” their buttocks over the nephews' thighs and legs, evoking anal eroticism even as they performatively cast themselves in the role of birth mother. Spirit figures emerge from cult houses and sway lewdly for beholders. It is as though the whole culture periodically rescinds the mores of routine social life to reveal the confusion and turmoil roiling beneath the surface. Eric Kline Silverman argues that naven makes visible a partially hidden dialogue in Iatmul culture, a tension between (positive) notions of nurturant motherhood and (negative) notions of grotesque maternal excess. For Silverman, naven appears to put the unconscious of Iatmul culture “on view”, an unconscious consumed by a persistently frustrated masculine yearning for and envy of female reproductive powers.
Naven—and in particular, the mother's brother's gluteal humiliation of his sister's son (nggariik)—is the organising motif of this detailed, comprehensive and captivatingly-narrated ethnography. Naven is of course one of the most storied rituals in the annals of anthropological investigation, thanks to Gregory Bateson's epistemologically and ethnographically experimental 1936 account. But, where Bateson viewed naven as mainly integrative, allowing the schismogenetic ruptures of Iatmul culture and psyche to be periodically sutured together, Silverman argues that naven is a crucible of emotional conflict. Silverman's analytical rhetoric and his theoretical tools are derived from psychoanalysis, with a little Bakhtinian dialogism thrown in for good measure. In this ethnography, the focal interest of Iatmul culture is the achievement of masculinity (male gender identity) vis-à-vis female motherhood. The book details Oedipal resentments and desires, incestuous fantasies, “womb envy”, sublimated homosexuality, and many other Freudianisms. Indeed, the artefacts of Iatmul culture—myths, architecture, everyday social practice—seem to lend themselves to this sort of analysis, as they are obsessed with gender, the body and sexual reproduction. In the book, a lengthy exegesis of the constitutive elements of naven is preceded by two substantial ethnographic sections, “Cosmic Masculinity” and “Social Masculinity”. These parts (comprising seven chapters) contextualise the ritual by describing Iatmul culture holistically.- 279
“Cosmic Masculinity” covers mainly the mythical imagination and its enactment: cosmogonic tales, the stories of the men's cult, esoteric knowledge, etc. The very existence of Iatmul social groups is tied to the provisions of their (gendered) creation in myth. Individual members of totemically-aligned groups share names with mythical figures, and the performance of particular myths thus instances the identity of social and mythical realities: “Men recount myths in the present tense and using the first-person pronoun as if they themselves … were the actual primal protagonists” (p.28). The myths tell of the emergence of (male) land from (female) aquatic chaos, the creation of the food staple sago, the birth of totemic social groups and structures, the theft of the sacred flutes, the origin of male initiation. Silverman has assembled a gigantic corpus of myths and legends, and he adeptly draws these into his analytic frame whether they pertain to cosmic origins or are simply humorous asides. Inevitably, myth and ritual relate to gender and to the anxieties that men have vis-à-vis women and mothers. We learn, for example, that the scarification of young men's bodies in initiation is a mimesis of crocodile spirits that enable human conception. Initiation re-enacts in a male idiom the trauma of birth. Similarly, Silverman interprets competitive totemic recitation as a kind of parturition: totemic chanting opens the “basket” of collective memory, making the hidden visible, as mothers who give birth reveal what is concealed.
If the chapters on “Cosmic Masculinity” lay out the local metaphysics of the Iatmul cosmos, those in “Social Masculinity” pertain more (though not exclusively) to everyday practice. Silverman offers detailed accounts of the kinship system, including patterns of matrimony and affect. He also describes voluntary exchange relations known as tshambela. Silverman understands kinship and exchange as the social media for the display of masculinity. Though the focus of these chapters is practice, he nonetheless continues in an ethnographic style characterised by a high degree of ideality. For example, although marriages are various, Silverman devotes a great deal of attention to the prized FMBSD marriage, known local as iai marriage. Here, the author is able to display a psychoanalytic coup de grace. Iai marriage, in which a father acquires for his son a bride from his own mother's social group, appears both to instance and to resolve Oedipal anxiety. The father “gets his mother back”, say Iatmul, when his son marries the daughter of his cross-cousin. This is also a nurturing act on the part of the maternal uncle, who prevails upon his own son to provide a bride for his nephew's son. Silverman argues that because these marriages are asymmetrical and non-reciprocal, they are motivated by the psychodynamics of Oedipality. For Silverman, iai marriage is an attempt by the subject to restore wholeness to itself: “In iai marriage, as in so many masculine endeavors, men ‘reach out’ to motherhood in the hopes that they will become complete” (p. 113).
The ethnography details the idealisation of nurturant mothers, but also portrays images of mothers as dangerous and consuming. Domestic houses are figured as mothers that at once protect inhabitants and threaten to devour them (doors can be surrounded by tooth-designs, vagina dentata chez Sepik). Where does this contradiction between images of motherhood come from? This is a key question dogging the ethnography. Silverman's embrace of Bakhtin's notion of dialogue is - 280 an attempt to answer it. One suspects, however, that the Freudian argument persuades Silverman more than does a theory of the polyphony of culture. In accounting for discordant images of motherhood, he writes: “Hence, the gentle memories of moral mothering eclipse any recollections of maternal aggression and childhood frustrations that, instead, are projected onto various expressions of grotesque motherhood” (p.99). The culture appears to be an elaboration of childhood emotions.
Silverman portrays men as “yearning for”, “desiring”, or “envying” female procreative capacity. Yet it is unclear whether the “yearning” that characterises the masculine disposition toward motherhood is produced by the culture or precedes and produces the culture. Indeed, it is unclear what sort of yearning or envy this is: Do individual men long for the power to give birth? Is it a psychodynamic process that varies among and between men? The themes that Silverman addresses are common in the ethnography of New Guinea, and like many other ethnographers, he opts to decode Iatmul culture as though it were an individual subject, a human mind writ large. In so doing, he largely sidesteps questions of personal narrative and symbolism (although he nonetheless writes admiringly of the work of Gananath Obeyesekere [p. 174]). The ethnography is written for the most part in a broad and generalising style. One might wish to read more about the responses that diverse particular people have to the tragicomedy of naven.
Likewise, Silverman devotes little attention to women. In an ethnography that purports to be about motherhood, we read little about mothers themselves or their perspectives on the plenitude of maternal images that populate their cultural world. How do women come to enact for men the traumas and fears of male infancy? If naven is a cultural conversation about motherhood, then Silverman presents it as a conversation among men about women. Women themselves appear to have little to say. When Silverman writes of “gender”, he is not writing of gender relations in the way that Marilyn Strathern has written of them, as an aesthetic that preconditions the possibility for social action in Melanesia. Although Silverman incorporates some of Strathern's analytic language—partibility, detachment—he belies his Freudian allegiances when he writes, for example, that initiation turns boys into men, that is, when he makes the object of cultural enterprise the gender identity of persons.
Finally, this ethnography says very little about the current sociopolitical circumstances in which Iatmul find themselves (cf. pp.23-26). There is almost no discussion of the state of Papua New Guinea, the relations of Iatmul with peoples elsewhere in the country, the contemporary political economy, etc. Silverman cites Bateson at points throughout the ethnography, as though Bateson and Silverman conducted fieldwork in the same cultural circumstances. But of course they did not. This is not, then, an attempt to interpret the specific modernity of naven. The book will nonetheless join and advance the anthropological dialogue about gender in the Sepik (see, for example, recent work by Lipset, Juillerat, Tuzin et al.), a dialogue that has grown rich in recent years thanks to sophisticated contributions like this one.- 281
SIMON, Judith (ed.): Ngā Kura Māori: The Native Schools System 1867-1969. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 1998. xx + 157 pp., apps, bib., chronology, index, photos. Price: NZ$34.95 (paper).
BRENDAN HOKOWHITU University of Otago
Ngā Kura Māori melds material gathered from former pupils and teachers to present a pictorial and oral narrative of the Native Schools system. While the sociological analysis and commentary is brief, Ngā Kura Māori is most likely a precursor to a larger, more elaborate and rigorous body of academic work. In setting the scene, Simon surmises the history of the Native Schools system as one of contradictions, sometimes seen as mere instruments of colonisation conceived to assist “cultural assimilation and economic exploitation”, while conversely viewed as “sites of opportunity for the educational aspirations of Māori” (p.2). Ngā Kura Māori provides a cross-section of perspectives between these two extremes.
Chapter 1 contextualises the educational setting by establishing the underlying disjuncture between what Māori wanted out of State Education and the limited curricula that State Education was prepared to accommodate Māori. Chapter 2 describes the establishment of Native Schools, their interface with surrounding communities, and the effect of their introduction on the “sense of community” (p.22). Chapter 3 and 4 look at the pupils and families of Native Schools, and their interactions with teachers as “agents of the state” (p.21), highlighting the actions of teachers as either conforming or non-conforming to the State expectations of them as “Europeanising” tools and “models of civilised living” (p.56).
Chapter 5 explores the curriculum and pedagogy of the Native Schools, and is fascinating because it, firstly, illustrates the gamut of teacher attitude towards enforcing the State policy of banning te reo from the school environment. Attitudes ranged from severe corporal punishment to encouraging students to speak te reo. Consequently, this chapter narrates the changing attitude towards te reo Māori, from begrudging and practical acceptance, to banishment, to tokenistic appreciation. Secondly, it describes the State imposed curricula and its implementation by teachers in some depth including the emphasis on English fluency, what tikanga Māori was deemed appropriate, and other curricula and pedagogical areas such as discipline methods, and domestic and manual training. By highlighting the various components of each curriculum, the chapter provides a socio-historical text that depicts the range of paternalistic attitudes that Pākehā had towards Māori. Such attitudes ranged from providing nurture and care to imposing brute punishment as a means of building stoic discipline. For example, the general belief that Māori were physically and practically orientated as opposed to academically inclined led to a focus on civilising and discipline through manual and domestic training in Native School curricula. The curricula, therefore, reflected the assimilation policy of the time by emphasising “order and tidiness, cleanliness in body and mind, self-control and obedience” (p.71).
It is appropriate this book concludes by examining the role of Native Schools in community health care, for it highlights the Native School policy and indeed the - 282 general State Education policy towards Māori, whether caring and nurturing or strictly disciplinarian, as being in either case paternalistically racist. By treating Māori parents as naive and incapable of making civilised choices regarding the education of their children, the State “promoted the idea that European understandings and knowledge about health represented the only valid knowledge in that area… [reinforcing] the superiority of European knowledge in general over that of Māori… [and] cultivat[ing] Māori dependence…. Hence, regardless of good intentions, the health role of the Native Schools served to increase Pākehā power and control over Māori” (p. 121).
Whether intended or not this book truly reflects a postmodern position. It does not search for the modernistic ideal of a single truth that, for instance, the Native Schools system was inherently “bad” or “good” for Māori, rather it asserts a multiplicity of truths to suggest a range of experiences dependent upon the individual school, community, teacher and pupil. Herein lies the book's strength, which could also be perceived by some as a weakness. While the absence of a hypothesis to scrutinise allows the reader to appreciate the range of experiences, the book faces the inherent criticism of postmodernism: what is the point? It could be said that the agenda of the book is to present ambivalence as the views depicted are “necessarily diverse”. However, I commend the authors for their stance of making “no claims to being a comprehensive history” (p.xii), and applaud their interpretive epistemology of seeking to improve understanding, rather than attempting to tell the reader the “truth” about Native Schools. The oral histories of the people involved in the Native Schools system are largely left to speak for themselves, and indeed they do.
The lack of demonstrable commentary has several advantages. The language academic work typically employs has been criticised for being meaningless to many Māori. The readability of the text allows it to be accessible to all those who contributed, while the photographs breathe life into the oral histories. The placement of the contributors' words to the fore of the text also provides Māori with a voice within a forum where everyday Māori speech is seldom heard and given little credence. The Pākehā voice within the text is also a strength. Much of the related educational literature over the past 15 years has rightfully been highly critical of State Education's racist policy. This book allows for another perspective, that of the individual Pākehā teacher who chose either to implement State policy or to reject at least parts of it. Such narration is important because it asserts the individual's rights to make moral choices within an unjust system, while providing positive views of Pākehā within a literature that has come to typically bemoan their involvement. At times, however, the effectiveness of Native Schools for educating Māori is perhaps overstated, when lapsing into generic statements such as, “The Māori Schools System was a cohesive and supportive institution. It was making great progress towards serving the needs of Māori pupils and the Māori community honestly and professionally” (p.x). Such a statement departs and detracts from the situation specific tone of the book.
The book's strength is the individual and contextualised voice it gives to both Māori students, their whānau, and Pākehā teachers. Its narrative and pictorial style - 283 provides a refreshing account that bolsters its interpretive nature. Ultimately the message of the book is that although Native School policy may have been inherently based on “civilising” and racist underpinnings, in some cases individual students, families and teachers were able to work together, change together and ultimately benefit from the Native Schools System.
SIMON, Judith and Linda Tuhiwai Smith (eds): A Civilising Mission? Perceptions and Representations of the New Zealand Native Schools System. Auckland: Auckland University Press, 2001. xiv + 357 pp., bib., glossary, index, photos. Price: NZ$49.45 (paper).
COLIN McGEORGE University of Canterbury
This is the most substantial product so far of a research project at the University of Auckland prompted by the limitations of existing historical writing on the former Native Schools. These schools have not been entirely neglected by historians (Barrington and Beaglehole's Maori Schools in a Changing Society remains a notable contribution), but most writing has been by Pākehā working principally from official records with teachers', parents' and pupils' voices seldom heard.
The Auckland team has worked hard to include those other voices. An appeal for former pupils and teachers to be interviewed brought more than a hundred replies, but they were almost all from Pākehā (a person of predominantly European heritage). The team then set about locating Māori informants through hapu and iwi contacts; Māori were interviewed by Māori researchers, and older participants who were most at ease in Māori were interviewed in that language.
This strategy has netted well over 200 testimonies from Māori and Pākehā, including a few people who were in Native Schools as early as the 1920s. The book also makes good use of the archives of the former Department of Education, official reports and memoranda, as well as documents and photographs supplied by some interviewees.
A briefer work was published in 1998 as a gesture of appreciation to those who had contributed to the project. There is some overlap between that book and this but very little repeated detail, and the editors are right to describe them as companion volumes. The earlier book dealt with Māori schools generally, including early missionary schools and church boarding schools. This volume focuses on the Department of Education's Native Schools, and its six authors—three Māori and three Pākehā—explore their workings in fascinating detail.
The interview material is treated respectfully and “with a minimum of analytical discussion” (p.6) to repay informants' trust in those to whom they recounted important memories. That sort of hands-off policy has made a tiresome mish-mash of some school centennial histories, but the interview material is deployed very skilfully here and the reader is well-prepared to assess the significance and reliability of informants' accounts of their experiences.- 284
The Native School was, the editors say, a place where Māori and European culture “would be brought into organised collision, as it were” (p.3). The book, arranged thematically rather than chronologically, examines that impact from various angles and demonstrates that European culture had by far the better of it but was not an entirely irresistible force. Two early chapters explore teachers' motives for working in Native schools, their varied relationships with their communities, Māori perceptions of the schools and Māori involvement in administration. The next four chapters cover classroom work and the methods teachers adopted or developed for themselves, the role of the school in the decline of te reo Māori, the place of Māori culture in the curriculum, and the Native Schools as preachers of “the gospel of soap and water” and teachers of the “laws of health”. The final chapters consider the place of the Native Schools in the education system as a whole, the politics of their transfer to Education Board control in the 1960s and their long-term significance in Māori-Pākehā relations.
The prime merit of this book is its demonstration of the way in which policy was modified in practice as individual teachers reconciled their expectations and perceived obligations with their situations and experience. The most obvious example is the vexed question of whether or not children were reproved or punished for speaking te reo Māori. Clearly, some children were punished; and some were punished by Māori teachers. (And some Pākehā pupils grew up bilingual, which raises the intriguing possibility of a Māori teacher chiding a Pākehā pupil for speaking te reo Māori.) Other teachers, both Māori and Pākehā, were much more accommodating and some used Māori themselves on occasion in both the playground and the classroom.
In the 1980s, the British historian of education, Gary McCulloch, reviewed the state of the art in New Zealand. Little, he said, was known of Māori education except for what had taken place in the formal system and, in particular, in the Native Schools. The way in which Māori spiritual and community values had been passed on from generation to generation outside the school system was uncharted territory. And, as the Auckland team readily acknowledge, by the early 20th century there were more Māori in Education Board than in Native Schools. The Auckland team have ploughed a familiar field again, and their book is admittedly concerned with a diminishing minority of Māori pupils, but their methods and the way they use their data indicate how one might set out to map that uncharted territory.
Inevitably, perhaps, there are a few lapses in this book. The claim on p.75 that three-quarters of all adult males were registered unemployed in 1933 rests on a mis-reading of the source of that statistic. The inspector D. G. Ball, we are told, took control of the Native School system in 1931 (p.196)and in 1932 (p.235). Page 163 gives a rather misleading summary account of James Pope's literary efforts and intentions.
These are, however, rare blemishes, and the book over all is very well produced and written in a clear, consistent style which does credit to its multiple authors. In his foreword, James Belich calls it an exemplary work of post-colonial scholarship; and so it is. Early in the final chapter, the editors explicitly resist the temptation to launch themselves into “the mire of educational theorising” when drawing their - 285 findings together and pondering them in the light of Māori education today. Their fine book is a standing reproach to educationists who stir a pinch of data into a peck of fashionable sociological theory. It deserves and will probably find a much wider readership than some recent local works on education.
TOBIN, Jack A.: Stories from the Marshall Islands. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. xvi + 405 pp., bib., index, maps. Price: US$19.95 (paper).
LAURENCE MARSHALL CARUCCI Montana State University
In Stories from the Marshall Islands, Pacific scholars and island residents receive a long-awaited gift from the past transported into the current day. The transposition of time occurs in multiple senses. First, the stories inscribed herein give us Tobin's rendering of local storytellers' accounts of distant pasts from a variety of atoll sites. Many of these are cosmological tales. Others are stories that explore the ways that human activities are embedded in the landscape and interwoven with local biota. Texts inscribing local constructions of primordial relations are included in this volume as well as stories of how Tobin's consultants imagine the multifaceted relationships among women and men, chiefs and commoners, young and old, living humans and non-corporeal beings. A final set of texts covers more recent phases of the remembered past, particularly recollections of intra- and inter-atoll relationships from decades past and stories of early colonial encounters. While these materials are not systematically interwoven or given much critical review, readers are exposed to a wealth of ethnographic texts recorded in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Were it not for this valuable book, these inscriptions from the recent past would be available only in the author's personal fieldnotes. Stories from the Marshall Islands also recaptures the richness of works from an earlier ethnographic era. It flies in the face of editors' current-day fixations on market share, presenting page after page of Marshallese to English translation. Yet, if Tobin's work reads far more like early 20th century folklore than 21st century ethnography, the treatise is particularly refreshing, even modestly post-modern, in the way it re-embeds its readers in the disruptions and discontinuities of the texts themselves. The side-by-side Marshallese-English stories allow readers to probe around the translations, discovering meanings other than those that the author considers most appropriate. And, while the texts are far from fully enriched by depictions of the historical and situational contexts from which they derived, Tobin typically identifies ri bwebwenato, the local people who shared their stories with the author, and the year and atoll location in which each of the stories were brought into being. These traces of context remind readers that these tales inscribe histories of colonial practice as much as they represent local people's renderings of much earlier times on atolls with local histories that far predate the Marshall Islands.
While Tobin gives readers an invaluable compendia of stories spanning 25 years of interaction with Marshall Islanders, the work lacks theoretical depth. The introduction provides an extremely sketchy overview of the Marshall Islands. Brief - 286 physiographical and historical notations are followed by sections on the people, urbanisation, social organisation, language, and religion. Short comments on chants and storytellers follow. Tobin relies on a typological approach to these topics, without questioning Euro-centric biases that are embedded the categories. Following a straightforward assimilationist model, “introduced religion” for Tobin is seen as a source of change in Marshallese culture (p.6). More innovative approaches—the idea that Marshallese Christianities and Marshallese culture are co-emergent phenomena, or the image of Marshall Islanders drawing upon one of an ever-increasing number of Marshallese religious beliefs as part of the way in which they construct more variegated identities as Marshall Islanders in the contemporary era— are not considered. Tobin relies instead on a strict dualism that leads from traditional belief to Westernisation. This approach results in some of the same temporal dislocations that plagued 19th century evolutionists in which “old customs and beliefs have survived” in the contemporary “urbanized/westernized” era (p.5). In this formulation, custom and belief are neither embedded in contemporary social practices nor functionally related to other parts of the social and cultural milieu of which they are a part. Equally, in spite of contested notions of identity among longstanding residents of these atolls, and an increasing diversity of transnational and inter-“ethnic” relationships, Tobin constructs residents of the various atolls unilaterally as “Marshallese”. He further depicts Marshall Islanders in racialised terms, relying on Spoehr's 1946 typology: “In physical type the Marshallese are closely related to the Polynesians… (yet) their physical characteristics indicate a mixture primarily of Mongoloid and Caucasoid elements… (p.4). Tobin dedicates his book to the Marshallese people, yet Marshallese readers, who seldom describe themselves in Euro-American racial terms, may find it offensive to be classed as mongrel mixtures of Mongoloid-Caucasoid traits. These dated portrayals make Tobin seem out of touch with current-day life in the Marshall Islands and with the state of scholarship in the Pacific. In spite of a plethora of recent publications on the Marshall Islands and culturally-related locales, and a recently published assessment of Micronesian Anthropology by Robert Kiste and Mac Marshall (University of Hawai'i Press 1999), Tobin does not incorporate any such materials. The most recent reference in his bibliography is 1982, and this to Gerald Knight's similar collection of stories.
Additional analytic commentary is confined to footnotes where Tobin suggests occasional comparisons with published stories from other parts of the Pacific. Nevertheless, the comparisons are piecemeal. He does not juxtapose stories with Lévi-Strauss' intent of showing them as transformations of one another, nor does he rely on a more analytically-sophisticated theory. Instead, Tobin notes: “The incorporation of the trips to America in the adventures of the traditional Marshallese trickster (Etao) shows how motifs and details of folktales may change as a culture changes, and as new information is acquired” (p.309). Here, Tobin points out the obvious: changes have occurred. But he presumes that what is new is simply acquired, not re-scripted and redesigned in terms of local agendas. Moreover, he offers no reasons why motifs and details change in certain ways under particular cultural, historical and interactional circumstances. A strength of Tobin's book lies - 287 in his finely grained translations. But, at times, Tobin essentialises his vignettes. One local man's theory of the origin's of iokwe is especially telling in this regard (p.274, fn.13): (A footnote to iokwe eok). “Literally: Love [to] you, sir…. The origin of the greeting was revealed to me by Mark (Mak) Juda, a most knowledgeable older man from Rālik. He explained that iia means rainbow in the Rālik Chain (Western Marshalls)… (and) that iaa kwe means ‘rainbow on you’, and is a greeting of honor. That is, the rainbow (a thing of beauty) is with (or on) you. This has been contracted to iokwe (yokwe)”. Here, the polysemic poetics of Juda's description are twisted to fulfil Tobin's etymological desires. A snippet of interaction, detached from its interpretative frame within Juda's discursive practices, is taken to be far more than a cultural account. For Tobin, it becomes the actual manner by which iokwe came into being as a lexical entry in the vocabulary.
In spite of its shortcomings, I find Stories from the Marshall Islands a welcome addition to Pacific literature, a work that captures important elements of detail that were once important components of “doing anthropology” but, due in large part to market forces, have become passé. While there is little cutting-edge research here, as we look back on the thousands of pages published by Malinowski or Firth it is the corpus inscriptionum (in Malinowski terms) of these prolific authors that continue to be of greatest value. In this work, Dr Tobin has considerably expanded the corpus inscriptionum for the Ratak/Rālik world.
WALTER, Richard: Anai'o: The Archaeology of a Fourteenth Century Polynesian Community in the Cook Islands. New Zealand Archaeological Association Monograph No.22. Auckland: New Zealand Archaeological Association, 1998. 115 pp., bib., figs, maps, tables. Price: NZ$20.00 (members), NZ$28.00 (non-members) plus postage and handling (paper).
PETER SHEPPARD University of Auckland
The island of Ma'uke is a very small, seemingly isolated speck in the South Pacific, which today keeps contact with the rest of the world through regular flights of small aircraft from Rarotonga 190km to the southwest. Even in the Southern Cook Islands it might only be considered famous for its mangoes and not much else. The casual visitor, however, soon finds that this tiny island (20km2) sits at the centre of a web of social and economic relationships that extend throughout the Southern Cook Islands and to New Zealand, Australia, Hawai'i and beyond. Women comb the raised coral (makatea) for maire (a green vine) that is shipped by air to Hawai'i where it is made into leis for Hawaiians and tourists, and families ship goods and people to their relatives overseas and receive goods and cash in return. Ma'uke lives through its web of interaction. In this excellent volume, Richard Walter shows that this pattern has ancient roots and that its study can shed useful light on the dynamics of history in Ma'uke and the greater island world of which it is a small part.- 288
This volume reports on the excavation of c.200m2 of the Anai'o site which is located on the leeward coastal strip of Ma'uke. This low island is fringed by a narrow reef platform which gives way to a slender sandy coastal strip leading to an inhospitable interior band of almost impenetrable makatea within which lie the rich garden lands and swamps forming the core of the island. The island has limited resources today and possibly less in the past. The fringing reef provides only a small amount of marine food, and even oven stones must be imported as the igneous rock is limited to a few patches of highly weathered low silica basalt. Despite these limitations, the Anai'o site records that during the 14th century A.D. a small community of people, living in a series of rectangular houses, made their living by offshore fishing and agriculture (although there is little direct evidence of this part of the diet), while limited remains of pig, dog, chickens and the Polynesian rat suggest that domesticated animals formed a possibly small component of the diet. Despite the lack of burials, the site provided a wealth of artefactual material (early style adzes, one-piece pearlshell fishhooks, scrapers, abraders) that is described as an Archaic East Polynesian assemblage.
This report provides useful background on the terrestrial and marine environment and geology of this makatea island, as well as detailed analysis of the material culture and faunal remains. The real pleasure is in the analysis of the fishing technology and faunal remains where the author draws on his considerable practical knowledge of Cook Island fishing to address issues of fishhook design, fishing strategy and fish bone taphonomy. Here, as in many of the other analytical chapters, students of Pacific prehistory will find useful discussion and research direction as Walter is challenging the boundaries in much of his work.
Pulling together the data, Walter's central thesis is that the Anai'o site, like many other sites of its period, represents a time of considerable interaction within Polynesia, which lasts in the Southern Cook Islands until c. 1500 A.D. In the following period interaction declines sharply until it is limited to neighbouring islands within the Southern Cook Islands. For such a small site, the evidence of early wide-ranging contact is considerable. First there are two potsherds that unequivocally come from areas beyond the andesite line to the north and west, possibly from Tonga or Fiji. Following this are the adzes and adze fragments which, when analysed by geochemistry and petrography, show that a number of pieces come from Samoa, while others come from elsewhere in the Southern Cook Islands. Finally there is the considerable collection of pearlshell fishhooks and ornaments which, given modern marine ecology, must be foreign to Ma'uke and probably foreign to the Southern Cook Islands.
I find this evidence compelling. The potsherds are clearly foreign and, although adze rock sourcing is far from an exact science, the difference between the Hawaiite basalts from Samoa (e.g., Tatagamatau quarry) and the rocks of the Southern Cooks is—excuse a pun—fairly basic. Such a rock type has never, despite considerable effort, been found in the Southern Cook Islands by archaeologists or geologists and is not expected. The question of the pearl shell (Pinctada margaritifera) is more problematic, yet again I find it highly unlikely that it was local. The modern reef waters do not currently support pearl shell and shellfish of any kind are limited, yet - 289 in the comparatively large archaeological collection pearl shell is the material of choice for fishhooks, ornaments and tools. If we were only looking at a small amount of pearl shell amongst a larger shell collection, it might be local; but this collection has all the hallmarks of a transported exotic industrial material. A source in the nearby lagoon of Aitutaki is a possibility, but again it appears that this is ecologically at best a marginal source compared to the abundant resources of the Northern Cook Islands. As Walter shows, pearl shell is the dominant industrial shell in early sites in the Southern Cook Islands including Tangatatau on Mangaia, which is even further south, and possibly well outside the natural distribution of pearl shell. Whatever the travel distance required to obtain shell, it is clear that Early Polynesian people in the Southern Cook Islands, living on islands with limited lagoon resources, travelled to obtain this superior industrial material in the period after colonisation, but travelled less for it in the later period when they switched to locally available, but inferior, shell.
Such patterns of long-distance interaction occurring for some time after sudden horizon spreads are common occurrences in prehistory, with Lapita providing evidence in the Pacific for a comparable history, and we should not be surprised to see a similar period in the East Polynesian expansion. This pattern of interaction does not deny the importance of ancestral inheritance in the formation of Early East Polynesia, but it does underscore the possibility that such interaction was one of the key features of that inheritance, and certainly it speaks to the pattern and rate of subsequent divergence in the region. In the Southern Cook Islands this scenario does run into problems with the very early dates on palynological evidence for forest clearance and burning on Mangaia which suggests that the Anai'o site was occupied as much as 1000 years after the initial colonisation of the Southern Cook Islands. Rather than being contradicted by the palynology, however, I think the palynology is contradicted by the archaeology from Anai'o and other early sites including those on Mangaia which indicate full colonisation much later than the evidence from Mangaian swamps suggests.
WHITEHEAD, Harriet: Food Rules: Hunting, Sharing, and Tabooing Game in Papua New Guinea. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2000. xiii + 330 pp., bib., index, photos, tables. Price: US$54.50 (cloth).
MONICA MINNEGAL University of Melbourne
For Seltaman of the Star Mountains in western Papua New Guinea eating is not merely background to the play of daily life. Who ate what, when and where, are matters of great interest, threads running through all conversations. And judgments as to the appropriateness of what is eaten frame all social action. The title of Whitehead's book is a play on words; food rules Seltaman sociality, and the food rules that shape eating behaviour in this society are primary expressions of local culture.- 290
This book is, ostensibly, an ethnographic exploration of Seltaman food rules, and the interplay of choice and constraint that underlies those rules. It can certainly be read as such. Indeed, the author invites us to do so when she suggests that readers may pass over the theoretical discussion with which the book commences and proceed immediately to the particulars of the ethnographic story. As ethnography the book has much to commend it, a detailed and generally insightful teasing apart of the many causal strands that shape Seltaman experience of and attitudes to food. The reweaving of those strands into a coherent picture is sometimes incomplete, and a few strands resurface more often than seems necessary, giving the discussion, in places, a sense of repetitiveness. But, as the introductory chapter makes clear, it is precisely this lack of overt systemisation, and the non-linearity of relationships between different elements of her story, that forms the theoretical thrust of the book.
Whitehead is challenging what she sees as an ongoing obsession in anthropology with the notion of culture as a distinct domain of action, with its own structural dynamics and internal logic. This view, she claims, has led to a disjunction of approaches to anthropology, with culture analysed either as cause or as consequence of the worlds that people experience. In fact, Whitehead asserts, it is both. There are two closely related elements to her argument. The first emphasises culture as reproduced, not transmitted. We must thus look to the processes through which perceptions and expectations of individuals develop for explanations of pattern in the ways people order their worlds. Those developmental processes are constrained both by what we bring to experience (though, contra Whitehead, I would not frame this in terms of “modular minds”) and the experiences to which we are exposed. The second element of Whitehead's argument emphasises culture as variable, not as given. This does not preclude apparent stability in cultural expressions, but such stability must be explained as the outcome of dynamic interactions between those expressions and their material and social context. If there is any deeper continuity to be found, it is in the form of the relationship between variables, not in the particular states that variables may take.
Neither insight is particularly new to anthropology, as Whitehead acknowledges. (I am surprised, however, at the absence of any reference to the work of Tim Ingold, which traverses much the same theoretical ground as Whitehead seeks to navigate here, and which has been advocating a similar shift in perspective for a decade or more.) What interests her are the implications of this perspective for research programmes in anthropology. If the cultural forms that we observe are recognised as outcomes of ongoing dynamic interactions, they can only be understood by exploring the processes that shape them, not by seeking coherence within them. Again, Whitehead is not the first to make such a call. Where her book is extraordinarily valuable, however, is in its demonstration of how the perspective she advocates might be put into practice.
Whitehead takes a classical question in anthropology, that of taboo and food rules, and shows how an understanding of the rules found in a particular society requires analysis of the processes implicated in and affected by those rules. What emerges is a complex story of reciprocal causality as different clusters of factors - 291 come into play. A distributional logic matches game types of different yield to consumer groups of appropriate size, a logic that is reproduced as much through the processes governing development of food aversions as it is by the imperatives of ensuring group solidarity through sharing. But a privileging logic that reserves certain categories of game for particular categories of people can also be discerned in Seltaman food rules, a logic that is reproduced by the processes through which social authority is developed. These two logics, emerging from different though overlapping sets of interacting variables, may push rules in different directions, and where such contradictions arise there is potential for a rule to flip between states in response to minor changes in initial conditions.
Whitehead argues that it is futile to look for any internal coherence in the set of rules that Seltaman bring to bear on the game they eat. Each category of game, and of people, is enmeshed in a unique set of relationships; to expect a coordinated response to change in any one variable is naïve. I have no problem with this. But does this really require that anthropology must become a particularist exercise in disentangling the causal intricacies of specific cases, as Whitehead seems to advocate in her conclusion? In an overdetermined system, it may indeed be impossible to explain anything without understanding everything. Certainly Whitehead seems to have found so, as her initial apologies for the incompleteness of her analysis make clear. Rather than pursuing that impossible goal, perhaps we should be focusing on forms of interaction, not the ephemeral outcomes that may result. Whitehead, I am sure from her introductory chapter, would be sympathetic to this view and there are indeed hints of more general dynamic principles to be discerned in her analysis of the Seltaman case. But these are not clearly drawn out and brought into focus.
This book has much to recommend it—as ethnography, as a significant contribution to the understanding of food rules and taboos, and as an argument for a reorientation of the anthropological project and the ways anthropology is to be done. If there is a weakness, it lies in the book's failure to clearly integrate the ethnographic discussion with the theoretical insights that have informed it.
WILLIAMS, Charlotte: The Too-Hard Basket: Maori and Criminal Justice Since 1800. Wellington: Institute of Policy Studies, 2001. xiii +171 pp., apps, bib., fig., tables. Price: NZ$29.00 (paper).
KHYLEE QUINCE University of Auckland
This book, published by the Institute of Policy Studies in Wellington, is the first publication funded by the Henry Lang Research Fellowship of which Williams was the inaugural Fellow in 1999. She aims to describe and analyse the history of relations between Māori and the Crown in the specific area of criminal justice over the past 20 years, from the perspective of the government administration.
Williams is clear in her identification of two major themes present in this period of policy. The first, as evident from the title, is that, faced with ever increasing negative criminal offending statistics by Māori, the Crown has responded by placing - 292 the issue in the “too-hard basket”. This response is compounded by general public attitudes to criminal justice that often call for tighter state control and harsher penalties. There is therefore a tension between Māori pressure for reform and decentralisation of power in justice on the one hand and public antagonism and fear, as well as government resistance, on the other. The second theme is that constant restructuring of the public sector over the past two decades has resulted in a loss of important institutional memory, vast swings in policy direction and multiple reinventions of the wheel.
The remainder of the book sets out evidence proving these theses, and it does this in a clear and thematic manner. There is a wealth of information presented in this well-structured text. The result is a very interesting microcosm of New Zealand's social and political history in an important era of upheaval and change. State policies toward Māori, probably more than policies towards any other group, closely follow trends in political and popular ideology. Further, these trends clearly ally with contemporary Crown, judicial and public attitudes towards the meaning and place of the Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand. As Williams points out, criminal justice in particular, with its emphasis on State coercion and control, is a major political football.
The lack of Māori perspective in the study is obvious and reflects a more general observation in the book that historically Māori were generally passive participants in the policy game. The jurisprudence and policy changes that emerged from the 1980s onwards were often unilateral, reflecting Crown and government prerogatives. Different Māori groups may have been consulted along the way, although Māori-initiated reform is not evident. Changes in Māori policy have also been top-down, which is not conducive to a Māori-oriented process of consensus decision-making. One positive development in the aftermath of mainstreaming Māori policy making to individual government departments is the establishment of expertise within Māori units of departments or the use of Māori advisory boards.
Overall the study provides an interesting overview of policy and management in one part of the public sector during the past 20 years. We are left with the distinct impression that the period consisted of a lot of gatekeeping between departments, lack of overall coordination, constant reinvention and lack of momentum. The numbers of programmes, reports, reviews, studies and initiatives described is truly overwhelming.
One of Williams' more frustrating conclusions is that promising initiatives were often prejudiced by insufficient funding and resources, or simply by a change of government. The nature of our political system, with its three-year term of government, means that little time is allowed for proper evaluation of programmes or policies. Further, in order to make them politically palatable, policies are often reactive rather than proactive in addressing justice issues.
Despite her overall succinct and efficient analysis, there are several aspects to the book I found irksome. First, there is insufficient information about Williams and her background. I presume that Williams is not Māori, and I would have preferred - 293 that to be stated. While she is open about her perspective, there is very little consideration given to the effects upon Māori of these policies. For example, the costs of criminal offending are stated to be “social and political” with no mention of the cultural effects of a cycle of offending.
An obvious ellipsis in Williams' work is the lack of input or analysis from Māori perspectives. While she clearly states that this is not the aim of her work, it does mean that this is yet another book “about” Māori, rather than for Māori. Aside from the obligations owed pursuant to the Treaty relationship, there are good reasons why the Crown should take direction from Māori in relation to justice matters. These include matters of cultural appropriateness of response, which may prove more economically effective in the long run than piecemeal approaches.
The options presented by Williams also represent the Crown's perspective. Justice initiatives such as alternative dispute resolution methods, pre-trial and pre-sentence diversion are presented as evidence that “the constitution and the legal system are … less monolithic and more flexible than much legal argument presupposes”. Williams is not likely to find many Māori voices of support for such a statement. On the contrary, Māori commentators, such as criminologist Juan Tauri, would view these types of initiatives as fitting squarely within the Crown paradigm that maintains control over Māori while giving small concessions to maintain general public support, as well as antagonism to true pluralism. In my opinion, these schemes are not far removed from the “too-hard basket” response, and maintain the perpetual failure of the Crown to honour the Treaty guarantees.
Other small aesthetic aspects also needed attention. In my view the presentation of the book is not great, and the cover looks amateurish. There are also several typographical errors in the text (the now retired Judge of the Māori Land Court is “Heta Hingston” not “Heta Kingston”, and the New Zealand Māori Lawyers' Society' of which I am a member, is “Te Hunga Roia Māori o Aotearoa”, not “Te Runga Roia Māori”).
Being a Māori legal academic who teaches in the criminal law area, I assumed from the title that this was a book within my fields of interest. To this extent I think the title is somewhat misleading, and the target audience might be within the policy or political studies areas.
At the outset, Williams states that the book challenges both Māori and the Crown to do better. I am not sure what Māori can do in a formal sense when faced with an inept and often unwilling Treaty partner.- 294
YAMADA, Yoichi: Songs of Spirits: An Ethnography of Sounds in a Papua New Guinea Society. Translated by Jun'ichi Ohno. Apwitihire: Studies in Papua New Guinea Musics No.5. Boroko: Institute of Papua New Guinea Studies, 1997. xxxvi + 308 pp., bib., CD, figs, glossary, index, maps, musical notation, photos, n.p. (paper).
BORUT TELBAN Scientific Research Centre of the Slovene Academy of Sciences and Arts
The relationship between spirits and people lies at the heart of the ethnographic study of sounds, songs and music among the Waxei people—who were called the Watakataui in the past—living along the Middle Korosameri River in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. In the late 1980s Yamada spent 12 months among the Waxei who mainly live in Meska Village (240 inhabitants) and Wainim Village (60 inhabitants). The book is concerned with sound communication by utterance, talk, weeping, singing, bamboo tapping and bamboo flute playing. A compact disk of musical examples, which are quite familiar to all those who worked or lived in the same Province, accompanies the book. It helps the reader to imagine more readily the world of Waxei sounds and music.
This is not only a book about sounds but also a contribution to the anthropology of death. Death gives rise to sounds. Phenomena caused by death constitute the main themes of sound communication and are also presented on the accompanying CD: weeping, wept-words, wept-songs, slit-drum signalling, talk of possessed spirit, bamboo divination, song of the spirit Guxaj and song of the spirit Sagais. Through dance and music, humans become spirits and spirits become human. The talk of spirits appears in the structure of sounds; the sounds reveal how spirits think.
In the first part of the book various phases of sound communication are presented through the ethnography of two case studies of death: the first concerned with spirit possession, the second with the bamboo divination. The Waxei distinguish among three kinds of spirits: spirits of the dead, spirits of sorcery and supernatural spirits. As the latter are those who dwell in rocks in rivers, lakes, ponds, caves, big trees, bamboo and so on, they would be better termed “bush spirits” to avoid the usual connotation of the concept supernatural. Spirits of the dead usually appear through sounds. Personification of all kinds of spirits suggests, according to Yamada, “a unity of nature and human beings which is mediated by spirits. To the Waxei, mere things of nature do not exist…. Supernatural spirits… are the ‘power’ which, while corresponding to categorised nature, wander beyond that category” (pp. 137, 140). There are two important supernatural beings: male Guxaj (the term also means “dancing” and “stamping”) seen as the spirit of all male spirits, the root of those male spirits which dwell in riverside rocks and plants; and Sagais, the spirit of all female spirits, the root of female spirits, the ancient owner of bamboo flutes, which is symbolically seen as Guxaj's wife. The existence of spirits is secured and justified by the myths that the Waxei call narratives of beginning.
The second part of the book is focused on songs and different sounds. The song of Guxaj is composed of about 30 tunes. It is sung either at initiation or at the feast - 295 celebrating a new house or canoe, or a new outboard motor. It is produced by two types of voices—“high voice” and “low voice”—overlapping, blending, approaching and parting. The text is here supplemented by music examples with the actual tones of women's voice-part, men's voice-part and the pattern of drumming on a slit-drum which accompanies the singers. There are two kinds of meanings of the song: the denotative meaning which exists “outside the song”, and the inner meaning related to the myth of Guxaj, hidden “inside the song”. These inner meanings refer to, for example, catching of Guxaj in the net, movements of Guxaj's tail, waiting for immature initiates, two wojinof(see below) supporting an initiate, boy's feelings of anxiety and tension, Guxaj's sharp teeth cutting the skin on the backs of novices, bleeding of novices, resting and bathing of novices, squeezing the sap into the boys' wounds, the whipping of the boys, the end of initiation, a mythical image of boys killed by Guxaj, the fight with Guxaj, his escape and his final transformation into a stone. According to Yamada the song of Guxaj does not just reproduce the mythical world, but shows people's fear and aspiration for power.
In the myth of Sagais, the spirit woman made a special bamboo and produced five man-pipes and five woman-pipes that emitted low and high voices respectively. She gave these flutes to the women and taught them how to blow them. Hungry men, however, attacked their women, seized the flutes and brought them into the men's house. People say that Sagais herself “talks” through the flutes.
The Waxei explain their singing by likening it to their travels by canoe on the meandering river and to metaphorical experience of its stream while the structure of the song is likened to collision and fusion of varied water flows. Yamada classifies the Waxei sounds into three groups: natural sounds (of wind, rain, leaves, burning grass, bamboo, running mouse, grasshopper, dogs and birds), human sounds and sounds by musical instruments. In all songs there is “talk”, a unique mode of sound, while all “talk” is not regarded to be a song. A true song among the Waxei is always a collaborative work combining multiple voices—high voices and low voices producing endless “sway”, perceived as a “wave” on the river, that underlie both Waxei mental life and their culture—and can never be produced by a single person.
Waxei society, as we could also say for other Sepik societies, is modelled on mythology through which the power of spirits is expressed in peoples' thoughts, sensibility and imagination. Waxei society sways and roves like the flow of water. This is familiar melody for them, where it is a social truth that sounds and songs, metaphorically encapsulating people's actual existence and their cognition of reality, are created by spirits.
Yamada addresses many themes familiar to all those who have worked in the Sepik region. For instance, there is an institution for two friends of a boy's father who participate in male initiation of unmarried male novices aged between 15 and 25. The boy and the man call each other wojinoj. It would be worthwhile pursuing a comparison of this institution with other Sepik societies, such as Chambri, Iatmul, Bun and Karawari, where analysis of partners similar to two wojinof could contribute towards a deeper understanding of Waxei relationships. A similar case is with the concept of a person and again with bamboo divination. Both themes were often discussed in the works of those who have studied Sepik societies. Though the book - 296 represents a detailed ethnography of sounds one would like to see some comparative dimension that would locate the Waxei ethnography in the broader Sepik area. This could not only deepen our knowledge of the Sepik people in general but of the Waxei too.