Volume 101 1992 > Volume 101, No. 1 > Reviews, p 95-104
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LANGMORE, Diane: Missionary Lives: Papua 1874-1914. Pacific Islands Monograph Series, No. 6. Honolulu: for Pacific Islands Studies, School of Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Studies, University of Hawaii/University of Hawaii Press, 1989 xxiv + 408pp., illus., maps, tables, chronology, biographical register. Price US$35.00 (cloth).
John Garrett University of the South Pacific & Pacific Theological College

Tamate, A King, Diane Langmore's previous memorable book on the Papuan career and eventual murder of James Chalmers, the London Missionary Society's colourful missionary explorer, has led her on to deal further with white expatriate missionaries in Papua as a group. She has called Missionary Lives a group portrait. The book covers many aspects of the four main groups active in Papua before the First World War: the London Missionary Society, the Australasian Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society, the Roman Catholic Missionaries of the Sacred Heart and the Anglican Mission. Detailed research in Papua and in the missionaries' home countries has led to a substantial study of their social origins, families, education and religious experience. We learn of their housing, family and community life, adaptation to the tropical environment, relations with colonial officials, attitudes towards Papuans and dabblings in anthropology. The book explores their paternalist and imperialist presuppositions, the encounters between them, their explorations and settlements, the contrasts in the organisation and administration of their missions — and the varied lengths of service of individual missionaries. A discerning chapter deals with the women, showing the contrasting roles of celibate Roman Catholic sisters, Protestant “helpmeet” wives and single, often restive, women teachers and welfare workers employed by the Anglicans and Methodists.

A prologue, with maps, traces the origins of each mission and its geographical area in Papua. An informal agreement between three of the groups and the colonial Government assigned a “sphere of influence” to each; overlapping and sheep-stealing were, thus, initially avoided. The Sacred Heart Mission, confined under the arrangement to a narrow coastal strip and a section of the Owen Stanley Ranges, protested vigorously against what it saw as an affront to its universal claims. Its repeated complaints, accompanied by increasing social mobility in the territory as a whole and gradual Catholic acquisition of privately controlled land, led eventually to the collapse of the system.

The book's extensive bibliography and references, compiled after travels and personal contacts in Papua, Europe and Australia, include manuscripts and printed - 96 materials. A concise biographical register of each of the 327 missionaries who worked in Papua during the period will be a source for historians and other students of society for years to come. A few small corrections in this valuable listing will be needed, but it will help towards future accurate treatment of important and often imprecisely described missionaries who helped to shape emerging cross-cultural local worlds in Papua.

Cross-cultural interaction, as the author acknowledges, followed the arrival and expansion of Christianity in these four varied forms. The aim, however, has been to show the distinctive features of each of the four Christian subcultures studied, rather than how local cultures appropriated and modified the input. The clear descriptions of all four missions will be consulted by social and political historians, who need such revealing detail about the ingrown private worlds of divided Christians.

Some of the intricacies of theological fashion and prevailing ethos might need further illumination. Not much appears, for instance, about forms of worship and singing, or the authority of the “holy men” and “holy women” of each mission, who were often perceived within local cultures as prophetic or sacerdotal mediators of an alternative supernatural force. In the case of the Sacred Heart Mission, incense, Latin incantation, eucharistic vestments and the cults of purgatory and the saints rapidly penetrated societies such as the coastal Mekeo and the mountain Kuni. The Latin Mass assembled wondering mountain peoples and trained them to be attentive to the culminating mystery indicated by the sanctus bell at the consecration. Blue-robed statues of Mary and the saints, novel artefacts in female or male form, induced changes in feeling at a level deeper than formal schooling.

The Peroveta (prophet) songs brought by Cook Islanders under the LMS to strung-out coastal villages in Papua, are still today repeated, still using Polynesian languages and compelling refrains. The Samoans, mentioned in the book as dominating and sometimes resented, were nevertheless, in the same manner as their British Congregational mentors, acknowledged as big men in all senses of the word; they introduced a distinctive new mana, travelling with the white missionaries in powered launches or the lakatoi canoes of Papuan traders, the seagoing Motu. The all-important class of LMS lay deacons was also given local authority within the Congregational polity brought to village churches by white missionaries. The deacons, as elsewhere in the Pacific, imitated the Samoan missionaries; they, in their turn, exercised decentralised sacred power within village societies. They became a more rooted influence along the coast than the Motu police of the administration; they used local languages and frequently learned how to pray, preach and exercise discipline with forceful effect.

Fijians and Tongans brought their kind of distinctive feel to the Wesleyan Methodist Mission in the islands, under the commanding influence of William Bromilow and his wife, Lily, who had experience in Fiji. Attitudes among Milne Bay Islanders were moulded by Fijian and Tongan forms of worship (and Tongan skill with boats around the Kula ring), but also by Tongan and Fijian Methodist singing, cooking, gardening and extemporary prayer. The influence of the Islander missionaries was endorsed from above in the Papuan Islands Region by the approving (and locally admired) authority of Bromilow and his equally autocratic successor, Matthew Gilmour.

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In describing the Anglican mission, the book does justice to its singular mix of British and Australian, Anglo-Catholic and Evangelical influences within the via media of “the Church of the English people”. But, here again, a strong admixture came through Kanak missionary assistants recruited in the Queensland canefields and towns. They nurtured a distinctive Melanesian-Papuan-Anglican style of their own in the emerging church at local level.

Such points are, understandably, not treated in detail in the book on account of its self imposed and stated limits, but future research can track them down through field interviews and surviving documents after reading Diane Langmore's book. In her study of the prevailing cultures of the homelands of the missions, however, more could have been said about some theological niceties and current social developments. Differences between the French, Swiss, Belgian, Italian, Netherlander, Irish and Australian missionaries remained secondary during the mission's early growth, but new sources of intrusive Australian financing and control were already coming in before 1914, after the building of substantial monastic bases for Sacred Heart Fathers and Sisters at Kensington in Sydney, with blessings and money contributed around the turn of the century under the aggressive patronage of Cardinal Patrick Moran. Australian-Irish prayer and recruiting began to modify the predominantly French atmosphere in Papua.

Contrasting kinds of imperial sentiment within the LMS and Methodist missions have been differentiated, but not sufficiently. The LMS people were usually Gladstonian liberals, Nonconformist do-gooders, who harboured built-in mistrust — and inferiority feelings — towards the accents and lofty manners of the British Establishment, at home and abroad. The brasher Australian Methodists embraced jingoist euphoria in the late Victorian and Edwardian periods. To them, Empire signified a divinely conferred destiny for all (even the born-again ragtag) white colonial subjects of Britain's Christian Royal House. Their annual conferences in Australia unanimously approved a “loyal address” to the Throne. They became more fervent (and more provincial) in this respect than their founders, the Tory Wesley brothers, who had endorsed royal divine right and zealously disapproved of the American Revolution.

Such general comments are observations rather than criticisms. Diane Langmore's group portrait is consistently stimulating. She has shown what unites and what divides the dull and average, or occasionally quirky and brilliant men and women she has assembled between covers. Alain de Boismenu, Benjamin Butcher, Lily Bromilow and the lonely Evangelical Anglican Copland King could hardly have sat comfortably together in front of a photographer's lens; their costuming and characters would have seemed incongruous; but, as missionaries, they were, as T. S. Eliot once wrote of squabbling 17th-century Christians, “united in the strife which divided them” and “folded in a single party”. Christ, eternity and holiness were their common concerns. The paths they followed in Papua have been compassionately and skilfully portrayed in a good book.

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LINDSTROM, Lamont: Knowledge and Power in a South Pacific Society. Washington and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990. xvi + 224pp. Price US$16.95 (paper).
Tomas Ludvigson University of Auckland

Despite being published as part of the Smithsonian Series in Ethnographic Enquiry, devoted to “exploring the ethnographic enterprise” (p.vi), this volume is not an ethnography. The author calls it an essay, an attempt to apply “a discursive model of knowledge and of power” (p.ix) to Tanna Island in southern Vanuatu. More specifically, the work is intended to show the “considerable relevance” of the work of Michel Foucault for “making sense of systems of knowledge and power in Melanesia” (p.ix).

Instead of (as one might have expected) emulating Foucault's historical approach to representing hegemonic modes of discourse in the West and developing a historical critique of discourses relating to Tanna, the author uses Foucault's oeuvre to construct a framework for analysis which ends up objectifying Tannese talk in a wholesale export of Western notions of discourse, information, power and knowledge.

The result is an abstract, idealised account of Tannese communication practices, represented by way of a plethora of jargon terms as a conversational mode of information –a conversational marketplace, complete with conversational loci where spiritual knowledge exchange partners, knowledge brokers who have cornered the island's information market, and knowledge consumers who consume knowledge statements, exchange serious talk and engage in budgeted revelation or narrowcasting of information that has conversational exchange value. In the process, John Frum hymns become mumbo jumbo with exchange value, while doctrines in Tannese history such as the “Tanna Law” established by early missionaries, and “America Law” proclaimed by the John Frum movement become regimes of truth.

Such heavy use of jargon would appear to preclude a subtle ethnographic understanding of Tannese affairs. Moreover, any Tannese voices that appear in this account of Tannese conversational practices are there only to further the author's analytical agenda. The subject of these conversations is incidental to the presentation. They are merely introduced as illustrations of processes of knowledge distribution in local conversational exchange. This criticism is, however, incidental to the author's project, as he clearly positions his approach as “not ethnography” (p.8), while confessing that “I do not much care about the details of what the Tannese say …”(p.8).

Even if Michel Focault's work can be presented as relevant to “making sense of systems of knowledge and power in Melanesia”, a question that kept nagging at this reviewer was: whose sense was being made? Ultimately, it seemed to have little to do with Tanna or matters Tannese. While readers who take an interest in extensions of popular metropolitan theory may find the book worth reading, those with an ethnographic interest in the Pacific most probably will not.

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MARSHALL, Mac and Leslie B. MARSHALL: Silent Voices Speak: Women and Prohibition on Truk. Wadsworth Modern Anthropology Library. Belmont (Calif.): Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1989. xiii + 190pp., figs., tables, maps. n.p. (paper).
Julie Park University of Auckland

Towards the end of Silent Voices Speak, its authors suggest that prohibition “holds promise for many developing countries” as a way of controlling alcohol-related problems, rather than as a way of eliminating drinking. Having read their carefully researched case study, I have been persuaded to their point of view.

The “silent voices” of the title are the voices of the Moen Island women whose usual absence from public affairs developed into a powerful, articulate and public presence in the 1970s and 1980s. As a result of their activities, Moen Island in Truk, part of the Federated States of Micronesia, imposed prohibition on itself in 1978. Silent Voices Speak documents the events leading up to the municipal ordinance which banned the sale or consumption of alcohol and the consequences of this ban. It is based on documentary research and oral history, enriched by the Marshalls' several decades of ethnographic and historical research in Truk.

Alcohol was introduced into Truk by early European visitors, and the earliest accounts describe heavy drinking and violent behaviour. Prohibition was imposed by colonial powers in the 1920s, and subsequently lifted as part of the decolonisation process in 1959. As in many Oceanic societies, it was the men who drank. By the 1970s, the violent drunken behaviour of young men, in particular, caused alarm and dismay. Certain elite church women began to mobilise against alcohol, in a manner highly reminiscent of 19th century women's temperance movements. These women enjoyed the encouragement and tactical advice of overseas temperance workers and the support of some local elite men. Although their picketing and petitioning was quite a new departure for Trukese women, the goals they worked towards, namely the protection of home and family, were highly appropriate for “good women”. Vigilant and tenacious, these women shamed their opponents into supporting the liquor ban.

Prohibition is no simple matter. It scarcely ever eliminates the supply of alcohol. However, it does alter the circumstances surrounding its consumption. On Moen Island, alcohol consumption did drop-until the black market was organised. The long term effects on overall consumption were probably not large, but there were very important changes in drinking behaviour, including the style and frequency of drinking, and in the perceptions Moen Islanders held about their personal safety. Public drunkenness and violence were greatly reduced. There were other important effects, too: the state lost a great deal of revenue, there were problems with enforcement, and difficulties in the relationship between the municipality and the state. However, most local people thought the law was a good one.

The study is set in the context of temperance movements elsewhere, and of current debates about alcohol control policy. The Marshalls suggest that Western lack of enthusiasm for prohibition may be another form of ethnocentrism. In societies where social rather than individual control is emphasised, prohibition may be a viable option in reducing alcohol damage — as long as it is a choice and not an imposition by an - 100 external authority.

This opinion resonates with some historical and current attempts to control alcohol by indigenous people elsewhere. For example, in New Zealand strict control or prohibition of alcohol was an aspect of some Maori movements, for instance at Parihaka and at Maungapohatu (Scott 1975; Binney, Chaplin and Wallace 1979). Today, the creation of alcohol-free occasions or occasions where alcohol is carefully controlled is sometimes seen as a more viable alternative than a reliance on individual control (National Council of Maori Nurses 1988:45, 50). As the Marshalls aver, it is the community rather than alcohol itself which is being controlled.

Silent Voices Speak is part of the Wadsworth Modern Anthropology Library Series edited by James Clifton. This series is based on the premise that the issue-focused ethnographic case study can “raise far reaching questions about the problems people confront and the variety of human experience”. If this volume is typical, the series is a welcome addition to anthropological publishing.

  • Binney, Judith, Gillian Chaplin and Craig Wallace, 1979. Mihaia: the Prophet Rua Kenana and his Community at Maungapohatu. London: Oxford University Press.
  • National Council of Maori Nurses, 1988. Te Hunga Wahine Te Waipiro. Auckland: Anthropology Department, Auckland University.
  • Scott, Dick, 1975. Ask That Mountain. Auckland: Heinemann/Southern Cross.
McGREGOR, Andrew: The Fiji Fresh Ginger Industry: A Case Study in Non-Traditional Export Development. Research Report Series No. 10. Honolulu: Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center, 1988. xi + 44pp., map, tables, photos. Price US$6.00 (paper).
A. Grant Anderson University of Auckland

One of the central problems facing small Pacific Island states in seeking economic growth and security is developing markets, or gaining access to existing markets, for the tropical products which they generally produce in small and unreliable quantities. The study is the first of what is to be a series on nontraditional export developments in the Pacific Islands, prepared as part of the P.I.D. programme. The study records the growth of a new export product (fresh ginger) from Fiji which has been based on gaining access to a narrow export marketing niche in the USA. The author has had considerable experience in the Pacific and spent a period as adviser to Fiji's Ministry of Primary Industries. He reviews the production and marketing of fresh ginger in Fiji from the late 1950s to the present. He emphasises two points: firstly the benefit gained from the interlocking of Fijian and Hawaiian industries, particularly affecting niche marketing; and secondly, the evidence that the laissez-faire conditions which initially - 101 facilitated the development of an export trade in ginger also proved to be a major weakness at a later stage, so that Government regulation became necessary.

Fresh ginger exports from Fiji began in the late 1950s, benefiting from growth in demand in the USA for fresh ginger for purée, particularly “off-season” demand not able to be met from the then small Hawaiian industry. Initially, growers were Chinese and Indian smallholders close to Suva, and exports to North America were initiated by the Suva subsidiary of a New Zealand-based firm. In the 1970s Fijian growers entered the industry after the collapse of the banana scheme at Lomaivuna, north of Suva, and Fijians today make up about three-quarters of the growers of mature ginger, although they account for only about a quarter of production. This expansion was stimulated by a growth in the number of Chinese and Indian exporters, and by 1970 there were 20 licensed exporters exporting about 1000 tonnes. This brought the first problems of instability, because, once the market niche had been filled, price-cutting occurred, the absence of firm quality control among new exporters became a problem, and the entry of new exporters further down the retail chain in the USA effectively undermined the distribution chains.

This led to increased Government intervention in the early 1980s to restore stability to the industry by restricting the licensing of new exporters and by setting up a tripartite committee representing growers, exporters and the Government to regulate the industry. This appears to have worked until 1986, when unrealistic minimum prices were set by the committee, prices which, furthermore, were to apply for the whole season. In order to gain sales, some large grower-exporters “dumped” quantities of ginger on to the West Coast USA market at less than this price, bringing a loss of confidence among US importers in the Fijian marketing system and among exporters at the degree of commitment of the Government to orderly marketing. Steps were taken to restore confidence and stability. These included the setting of quotas for exporters, the setting up of a consortium of exporters of fresh ginger, and the selection of 15 importers to handle all Fijian ginger in the USA. A grading system was introduced for the 1987 season, based on Hawaiian standards, which provides a bonus for premium-grade rhizomes. To further encourage improved quality, a “master farmer” pilot scheme was also set up in 1987.

The study covers all aspects of the industry in Fiji, recording the growth of exports from some 443 tonnes of fresh ginger in 1967 to just under 2000 tonnes in 1987. Most exports go to the USA, where Fijian fresh ginger supplies about 22 per cent of all imports, dominating out-of-season supplies. In addition, there is growing production of processed ginger from immature rhizomes, with exports to Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

The author's principal conclusion is that, despite the existing level of intervention in the industry, there is still need to regulate it further, and this will be best achieved through a body which represents growers, exporters and the Government, all of whom have interests in stabilising the industry. The series, if it follows the pattern of the first volume, will provide a valuable record of the type of initiatives that are open in small island economies.

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MILLER, Char (ed.): To Raise the Lord's Banner: Selected Writings of Hiram Bingham, 1814–1869, Missionary to the Hawaiian Islands. Studies in American Religion, Volume 31. Lewiston (NY): The Edwin Mellen Press, 1988.590pp. n.p. (cloth).
Mark Gallagher Pacific Theological College, Suva, Fiji

Miller states that Bingham's correspondence in this nearly 600-page book “can throw into sharp relief the larger world in which he moved” (p.3). Those who read Bingham's ponderous but more comprehensive Residence of Twenty-One Years (Bingham 1849) will find that few new insights about the people of Hawai'i emerge from Selected Writings. Even the contributions of the Hawaiians and Tahitians connected to the mission receive minimal attention.

Selected Writings does offer a perspective on Bingham fuller than that provided by Residence. For instance, Residence's stoic description of the 1819 voyage to Hawai'i, “some suffered much and long from sea-sickness” pales next to Bingham writing to his parents about “the disagreeable retrograde action of the stomach and torpid state of the bowels which have … rendered me almost lifeless with stupidity for days and weeks altogether” (p. 148). Also of interest are comments regarding missionary aspirations for land (pp.39, 195,475–9).

In his introduction, Miller frequently cites Kerry Howe's interpretations in Where the Waves Fall (Howe 1984) of events in late 18th and early 19th century Hawai'i. The incongruity is clear, since Miller's work involves primary sources and focuses on Hawai'i while Howe's text surveys Polynesia and Melanesia and confines itself to printed sources.

Miller cites Howe on Ka'ahumanu's timing (and, by inference, motivation) in requesting baptism (pp.21–2, notes 20–2); Howe 1984:171–5). He overlooks or ignores, with Howe, Bingham's statement that Ka'ahumanu had requested baptism before Liholiho's death (Bingham 1849:214). Thus, Bingham's biographer (Miller 1982) does not bring into the discussion the influence Bingham's New England Puritan heritage had on his decision to deny the 1824 request. Howe acknowledges Ka'ahumanu's public support for Christianity before Liholiho' s death, Miller is silent. Howe misses the significance of Ka'ahumanu's actions in the period after Liholiho's death in England in September 1824 but before news of the event reached Hawai'i in March 1825. Miller confuses the whole issue by stating, “it was not until 1823, when, following Liholiho's death … Kaahumanu and six high chiefs requested baptism” (p.21).

The layout of the text in Selected Writings is substandard, as is the proof-reading. Some examples: “heiuas” (heiau) (p.19); “Tamorii” (Kaumuali'i) identified as “Kanui” (p. 172); “state and pencil” (slate?) (p.249); “devility” (debility?) (p.276). We find Bingham quoting Romans 4:11 to declare that Christians are not to eat with “sailors” (p. 183). The text is, in fact, I Corinthians 5:11 and the King James Version has “railer”. Did Bingham not know his Bible? On the same page, quoting I Corinthians 6:10, we read that “sailors” (KJV “revilers”) shall not inherit the kingdom - 103 of God. We sympathise that Bingham had just finished an unpleasant five-month voyage, but did not Miller find this a bit harsh? And all this time we thought the sailors were angry with Bingham because he tried to keep them from grog and women! Selected Writings will prove most helpful for those already familiar with Bingham and with the history of Hawai'i.

  • Bingham, Hiram, 1849. A Residence of Twenty-One Years in the Sandwich Islands. Thirded. Hartford Connecticut. First Tuttle ed., 1981. Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co.
  • Howe, Kerry, 1984. Where the Waves Fall. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • Miller, Char, 1982. Fathers and Sons: The Bingham Family. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
YOUNG, Michael (ed.): Malinowski Among the Magi. “The Natives of Mailu”. International Library of Anthropology. London and New York: Routledge, 1988. vi + 355pp., illus. Price A$105.00
M. Macintyre La Trobe University

Malinowski the ethnographer has managed to maintain his grip on the hearts and minds of his academic descendants for a very long time. Whether engaging with his arguments about human universals, native ideas or savage sexuality, or simply scolding him for pseudo-scientific pronouncements or racist responses, anthropologists have been unable to ignore him. His earliest ethnography has been difficult to obtain and Routledge's decision to republish an edited version with scholarly notes is most welcome.

In an era when there is much talk of multiple representation, Malinowski among the Magi provides the reader with a textual triptych. The introductory essay by Michael Young presents an historical account of the original text's production and an excellent critical appraisal of its representation of Mailu. This essay and the editorial notes combine to provide a subtextual commentary on the ethnography itself, The Natives of Mailu, which is the centrepiece. Young compares Malinowski's observations with those of other writers and provides commentary on the form and content of the Mailu ethnography.

Although Malinowski made no claims for The Natives of Mailu being anything more than “Preliminary Results” of his first research, the text has a comforting ethnological solidity to it as description and factual information are crammed into their various “Notes and Queries” categories. The social structure, kinship, belief systems and economic life of Mailu people are outlined with assurance and detail. Drawings and instructions concerning artefacts and material life would enable an ardent reconstructionist to build a house, a canoe and go fishing with a high degree of cultural specificity.

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The traits and tropes of his later works appear here in their first, guileless form. Malinowski's amour propre is already well developed: “I am afraid I must explicitly boast of my facility for acquiring a conversational command of foreign languages …” (p. 109); and, although he admits to being unable to speak with any woman, this did not inhibit his claims to authority on “sexual life and marriage” on Mailu, which he even begins with “a full account of the erotic life of the Mailu” (p. 174)! Some of the themes that he pursued in the Trobriands already absorb his interest. As Young notes, he seems determined to find ignorance of physiological paternity and is inexplicitly intrigued by the issue of whether Mailu people have a superstitious fear of darkness. Of greater historical interest are his observations concerning trade and exchange relations and the ranking of valuables by the Mailu, for they reveal that his critical insights and responses to the work of his mentor, Charles Seligman, formed a basis for his approach to the Kula.

This volume is of intrinsic historical interest as an early colonial ethnography of the Mailu, or Mági people. Young's introductory essay enables the reader to contextualise its production and in itself constitutes an important contribution to recent critical debates on Malinowski and the history of the ethnographic enterprise.