Volume 92 1983 > Volume 92, No. 4 > Reviews, p 541-572
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BROWN, Paula and Donald TUZIN (eds): The Ethnography of Cannibalism. Washington, D.C., Society for Psychological Anthropology 1983. iv, 106 pp. n.p. (paper).

Geoff Cawthorn University of Auckland

This selection of essays arose out of a symposium on the Ethnography of Cannibalism, convened by the American Anthropological Association in Washington, 1980. The editors see this collection as an outcome of their conviction that the “global theorising” to which the practice of cannibalism has been subjected is premature, and that anthropologists are generally uninformed about specific practices and ideas of cannibalism in their specific contexts.

Cannibalism, according to the editors, has always been something of a “curiosity” to observers from the West. While within this culture there is a substantial corpus of material in the form of fairy-tales, myths and legends, prompting various responses, the accounts of actual cannibalism (by implication that of “native” cultures) have been confined to missionary or administrators' accounts, travellers' tales or conquerors' testimonies and such like. Ethnographers in the later 19th century were foiled in their attempts at a systematic inquiry by the very nature of the colonialism of which they were a part: cannibalism (and other practices) was banned almost as soon as it was located.

In recent years there has been a revived academic interest, led by psychoanalysists and cultural materialists, in the practice, the former being interested in it as an expression of psychically primitive and oral-sadistic impulses, the latter in its nutritional value. Both are grand but highly speculative theories. To add to this situation, a recent book (Arens 1980), has suggested that cannibalism as an approved, institutionalised social practice never in fact existed.

Given this background, this collection is an attempt to bring together a number of detailed, concentrated studies of specific forms of cannibalism in particular cultural-historical contexts. If this small volume is any indicator, it is clear that the range of such contexts must be truly vast. Space allows only a brief outline of each essay.

The first article, by Fitz John Peter Poole, discusses aspects of the myth and ritual of cannibalism among the Bimin Kuskusmin people of West Sepik, PNG, in relation to their conceptions of intergroup relationships with regard to their own cultural identity. He also looks at cannibalism as it relates to beliefs concerning sorcerers, tricksters and witches and the contexts of warfare, mortuary rites and, in a detailed analysis that draws all these into it, the great pandanus ritual. - 542 Cannibalism is deeply embedded also in matters of gender, kinship, ritual status and the centrally important notions of bodily substance as male or female, strong or weak, and so on (this applies to plants, birds and animals also). Interestingly, human substance is not classified as food.

Gillian Gillson looks at cannibalism among the women of the Gimi-speaking people of the Eastern Highlands, PNG. This occurred as part of the funeral rites for a deceased male, the women secretly “stealing” the corpse from its resting place and cooking and eating it in the men's house. Though it has been abandoned since the 1960s, Gillson has reconstructed the ritual from the accounts of eyewitness informants and fragments that still persist. In a complex analysis Gillson shows this action to be an analogue to the myth of the men's flutes, which were said to have been stolen from the women, thus revealing an intricate, symbolic play of sexual politics.

Carol MacCormack examines the political use of cannibal accusations among the Sherbro of Sierra Leone. Here cannibalism is institutionalised in the form of Leopard and Alligator Societies, whose members are antisocial, selfish power-seekers. These are the malevolent counterparts of the benign sodalities who take the masks of the hippopotamus and the duiker as emblems and whose members are farmers and fishermen. But politics is not so straightforward, and MacCormack shows how ambiguity is the ultimate truth as people shift continually from one side to the other and may be members of both at the same time.

Donald Tuzin discusses a somewhat different phenomenon: the response of the Arapesh of East Sepik, PNG, to a cannibal attack in 1945 by a garrison of Japanese soldiers with whom the Arapesh had previously enjoyed very amicable relations. The Arapesh cannot accept that hunger and desperation motivated this action, as Tuzin, from Japanese accounts and seasonal analysis, asserts. Instead, since cannibalism in their cosmology is an “unthinkable” act, the Arapesh respond with what Tuzin calls a “defensive distancing” by attributing it to a “decultured” madness.

Marshall Sahlins presents an analysis drawn from myth and historical practice of cannibalism in Fiji. Working from the myth of Tabua—a myth that embodies several central cultural components—Sahlins develops an embracing system that links cannibalism, as a sacrifice, to the key exchange in Fijian society wherein an “immigrant” chief, in marrying into a line, exchanges “cooked men” (cannibal victims) for “raw women” (the virgin bride). Sahlins shows how the immigrant chief is identified with the victims of the sacrifice so that, in being made a god, he both feeds the people and is their food. Thus cannibalism is always symbolic, and draws its meaning from its relation to some central elements in Fijian culture: its relations to chiefs, gods, turtles, whale's teeth and women.

Shirley Lindenbaum offers an insightful commentary on the previous essays, focusing on the problematic relations of symbolic analysis to historical practice and the question of whether symbols reflect and/or mask social reality. With a sharp historical sense and in-depth knowledge of several of the contexts discussed, Lindenbaum is able, in a very brief essay, to supplement these discussions with both new material and a broader line of thought. We learn that the Bimin Kuskusmins' neighbours, the Oksapmin, who are sacrificial victims in the - 543 former's ritual, are in fact dominant now over the Bimin Kuskusmin in matters of trade, politics and ritual power, whereas before the introduction of a mission and a government station in Oksapmin territory, the reverse was true. The Bimin Kuskusmins' ritual may thus be seen as an attempt to efface this domination. Lindenbaum also expands Gillson's thesis linking the ritual to the introduction of pigs into the subsistence economy in the 1950s, their contact with the trading Cimbu, and the fact that there has been only one case of kuru (a disease caused in part by eating infected human tissue) among Gimi males born since 1952. A central part of the ritual involves the exchange of pigmeat for the bones of the deceased. The women are given portions corresponding to those that they have eaten of the man. By this “sleight of hand” the men, according to Gillson and Lindenbaum, retrieve that man, now symbolically “processed”, but also they focus the women's attention on pigs and thus assert their role as the creators of culture. This aspect can be seen as an adaptation to a changing social context.

All this is very interesting, yet while I can see Lindenbaum's point that this “focus on the symbolic in historical context opens up the conjuncture of myth, ritual and social practice”, and the development of cultural understanding as a dynamic may “proceed by a kind of borrowing from earlier symbolic assumptions”, one is forced to consider the possibility that such efforts to elucidate the social construction of meaningful practices may impose a coherency not inherent in either the practice itself or the sources from which it has been drawn. The model is too neat.

The context of 19th century Fiji, for example, was one of unusual widespread and large-scale warfare, and, it seems, all the excesses of war. All the documentary sources are from this period and, even beyond their own bias and fragmentation, must surely reflect this context. Sahlins does not see this as problematic. But history as a living thing is pre-empted. He is unable to refer in depth to any single occasion of ritual cannibalism.

While there is an obvious limit to what can be said in a short essay, Lindenbaum's comments seem to me to raise further questions concerning the veracity or the fulness of the reconstruction exercise that most of the writers have attempted. Why was this material omitted from their accounts?

The book is none the less a valuable collection. It clearly shows that “cannibalism” cannot be considered as a singly defined practice. Ironically, by focusing on cannibalism as an important field (or department) of study, the book partially betrays this perception. And the practice may not itself be perceived by the people of these cultures as extraordinary or in any way a particular department of their social experience.

One aspect of this practice not adequately discussed was the sense in which “cannibalism” is a construct of the colonial enterprise. Accusations of cannibalism were (and still are) an important tool of cultural domination. This volume, however, certainly challenges one's perconceptions concerning the nature of cannibalism and gives light to a hitherto sadly misunderstood cultural practice.

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  • ARENS, W., 1980. The Man-eating Myth: Anthropology and Anthropophagy. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

HAU'OFA, Epeli: Mekeo: Inequality and Ambivalence in a village society. Canberra, Australian National University Press, 1981. x, 339 pp., figs, tables, maps, plates, glossary, apps, index. Price A$19.50 (paper).

Jean Guiart Musée de l'Homme

Here is one of the best books published on a Pacific Island group in the last 20 years. It appears on the surface to be a classic social anthropology monograph. In fact, it is something else, if only from the fact that we do not find here the redundant and pretentious pseudo-theoretical discourse which plagues so many books by Western authors. This one is crammed with information, precise and clear.

This is equally an ambiguous effort. How do you get through to a majority European audience when you are a Pacific Islander writing on his own people? The answer is not an easy one.

It is an unhappy fate for any Island society to be the subject of anthropology and, through the research done by foreign agents, to somewhat lose control of your own culture. So think at times the Island readers of so many monographs written for purely selfish ends by European scholars. This time we have a man of the place, hailing from Tonga—so long the conquering nation in this part of the world—dealing with another Pacific culture, close to which he has been reared, as the son of a Tongan Christian missionary. Epeli Hau'ofa did not have to be introduced to the Pacific, neither had he to learn about New Guinea. His problem was putting his specific experience through a Western anthropological mould. He does this in a non-methodist approach, the cult of the Saints, Mary Douglas and Claude Lévi-Strauss.

His could have been a worse choice. In the highly competitive and intellectually charged atmosphere of the Australian National University it can be understood that one might need one or two towering and protective figures. As regards Mekeo, I prefer what Epeli Hau'ofa has to say to the excerpts of his favourite authors. But if we erase learned references, the book stands well on its own. Epeli Hau'ofa's methodological choices could more simply come from his own experience and knowledge as an Islander. None of what he has to say is in contradiction with what is available over two centuries from knowledge accumulated, if one leaves aside the many successive anthropological fashions and schools of thought. If the anthropologists were always the objective observants of reality they think they are, more or less with some justification, and not so often beastly towards - 545 one another, there would be no need of father figures to justify telling simple facts. Simple inasmuch as Dr Hau'ofa deals with everyday life, which provokes echoes from more or less the whole area. What Epeli Hau'ofa tells us is of great importance. It is the hub of the life of the people. He knows it, but how much of Anthropology does?

The problem of this book is its excellence. Without any of the habitual vagaries, Epeli Hau'ofa is always to the point, in just the number of words needed. We are not used to that. His descriptions are vivid, brilliant and come out immediately understandable if one has some experience of the area. But why is he so apparently unsure of himself? His Mekeo are as Melanesian as could be, even if they do not fit in the recent craze about big-men—Melanesians as we know them since contact, from New Caledonia, Vanuatu and Fiji to the land mass of New Guinea. Unhappily, today too many anthropological discussions are by researchers who follow Margaret Mead's advice to her pupils, not to read, so as to keep an open mind, and thus are perfectly ignorant of the literature over 100 years. They would learn, if they read, that the characterisation of the Melanesians as being governed by big-men first forwarded by labour recruiters for Queensland and by the very first generation of traders established in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands in the middle of last century. Contrariwise, London Missionary Society, Methodist or Melanesian Mission Polynesian or Melanesian teachers or pastors knew how to find hereditary leaders, even if their way of going about things differed from that on their home islands. All this big-man talk is a new way of justifying our ideas of intellectual and racial superiority. People lacking strong social structures can still be considered, mezza voce, as primitives. The better authors have happily clung to the vernacular concepts and to the analysis of their meaning.

In fact, Melanesian society has never been one. It practises logical and intellectual games, playing with different principles of organising authority, with a varying mixture of heredity and the use of means of acquiring power and prestige adding to one's given status at birth. Pacific Islanders, through their conscious manipulations, are the better theoreticians. It is good that a Tongan should have studied Mekeo. He has been able to pinpoint inequality and ambivalence as structural principles of social organisation. They are present everywhere in the area, only the local mixture being original.

Inequality means dynamism. A society practising equality would be static, and man has never been able to produce one. The real problem is how individuals are allowed to play inside an unequal society so as to change their status for the better, if they so desire, or for the worse if they lose.

Logical oppositions are the base of structural analysis: culture against nature, in the open as compared with actions on the sly, pure and impure, etc. These notions are present everywhere in our human world and looking at them has become tedious. Listing them is one of the oldest ways of anthropology, long before structuralists appeared as such on the scene and decided to rediscover them.

Hereditary chiefs versus hereditary sorcerers is the dual institution which we are offered by Mekeo. This could appear simple enough if Epeli Hau'ofa did not - 546 show that things happen when the senior chiefly line is gone, or when the chief prefers to stay in Port Moresby, or has married elsewhere. As in the rest of the Pacific, there are ways of building a chiefly line, as there are ways of acquiring magical powers and enhancing yourself as a powerful sorcerer.

Since Reo Fortune and Dobu, we have been plagued by the idea that some places were, by special privilege, full of sorcerers, and naive doctoral students come today from Western universities to hunt after witches and base on what they are told about them their description of the Melanesian society's mental health. In my view the use of the term sorcerer is always unhappy, as the reader tends inevitably to keep in mind only the negative aspect of the powers of the person designated as such.

The whole Pacific, if not the whole world, knows a situation where the person who can wield witchcraft can cure from witchcraft. Behind the recourse to the word sorcerer, maybe stemming from missionary habits of calling thus any person dealing with magical powers, we have the normal function of diviners and healers, using both negative and positive powers, to provoke disease or to cure, to kill or to save, to add to troubles in the community or to cool down tempers. According to which European author, the accent is on one or the other aspect and the reader can get the impression that here are dangerous groups of sorcerers which do not exist next door. Christian villages are devoid of witchcraft but heathen villages are always full of it....

What Epeli Hau'ofa describes is close to what Maurice Leenhardt showed nearly a century ago for New Caledonia: a complementary relationship between the hereditary chief who holds few powers dealing with the outer world and other men specialising in dealing with non-mundane affairs: life or death of individuals and the magical protection of the community against any outside or inside danger to its coherence or its well-being. There are all sorts of varying mixtures, the hereditary status relating to open use of power being shared among specific individuals, and the magical control over the environment and what invisible forces govern it never belonging to a single person. The Mekeo chief cannot hold magical objects and hands them to the junior line. This is normal Melanesian and Polynesian practice. Few instruments endowed with mana can be held by the ariki who needs a tohunga to work with and for him.

Arthur Bernard Deacon has described how, since the advent of the white man, witchcraft has changed function. Every group of lineages partaking of a certain form of coherence had its magicians who were to protect it against the unknown or foreign groups, establishing on the outskirts of the group's territory a form of mythical protection, preventing trespassers or persons with bad intentions from acting as they intended. The diseases they would send they could heal. The new form of witchcraft, which too has been described in New Caledonia by Maurice Leenhardt and myself, held worse dangers. The man having acquired it was possessed by it and as a result had to kill by magic so as to feed its malevolent power, else he would be devoured himself by the force he had obtained. So he would look for victims in his own family, as acting against strangers was not that easy and the new god, called Doki, was claiming victims. People have been describing, even recently, how they saw the Doki, in the form of a man with a sex - 547 made of fire, crossing rivers at night and making his way from village to village. It is said he was introduced from Vanuatu, to the Loyalty Islands, then the Isle of Pines, and that from there he went over New Caledonia, from south to north. This reversal of the traditional function of magical powers, more along European stereotypes about witchcraft, in a form which today is often given too much importance, has come as a reaction to missionisation and the establishment of the white man's power. It is at the same time the symbolic translation of depopulation through the introduction of foreign disease.

More recently, but there are earlier cases, at least according to missionaries, witchcraft has been evidently used, with some success, or the threat of witchcraft in a number of instances, where the community's problem was to prevent one of its members from playing the white man's game, or playing it in a too dangerous fashion. I have seen, in a colonial situation, Melanesian petty traders, civil servants or politicians, complaining of witchcraft being used against them, shifting their residence, or being careful not to be arrogant, as a result of such silent threats. Many pronouncements that Melanesians have no business acumen and cannot become really prosperous entrepreneurs should be explained as the result on the behaviour of the individuals concerned of threats of the use of sorcery. As the struggle towards independence from the white man becomes clearer and more conscious, social pressure is exerted on those who would help to maintain the colonial system. In this way, witchcraft is going back to its traditional function of protection of the group.

Quarrels between brothers constitute the most dynamic factor of the Pacific Islands societies. Tensions of this kind are an everyday occurrence, and imply a huge number, over the centuries, of small-scale migrations of dissatisfied junior brothers, or elder brothers having lost out to a junior one. They force each local group to find a solution to the problem of accommodating the well-known person, or the complete stranger, who asks to be allowed to settle, till some land and get a wife. The uneasy relation between male siblings—if they do not have a common enemy—is the basis of micro-revolutions all over the place, when cohabitation becomes impossible and one has to choose to fight, if he can, or quit. There is always somewhere one can go and exercise one of the potential options inherited from the mother, from the mother's mother, or obtained through the wife.

The origin myth given for the Mekeo stresses the institutional quarrels between elder and younger brother, as seen all over the area, and the accusation of adultery lodged by the former against his wife having, against his wishes, stayed overnight in his brother's village and coming back with a pig presented to him by his younger brother, but a pig which is the exact image of the one he sent himself. The number of myths in Melanesia where the elder brother is tricked by a younger one, and where trickery is translated in sexual terms, is very great. The conclusion is not always the death of each other's son, but it can be one of the two brothers. The anxiety of the senior man about slights to his prestige and status which can only come from a younger brother, classificatory or not, if thought really dangerous—others are part of the prestige competition and can always be answered—is condoned by the cultural model which asks for the greatest respect - 548 towards the senior line. At the same time, there are possible strategies to do what is condemned in theory, and manage it with success over two generations or more. Epeli Hau'ofa gives clear examples of this. I could give some living ones from New Caledonia or the Loyalty Islands, as well from senior lines trying to make themselves greater than they are, at the expense of the junior ones, or of the contrary.

In the same way as sorcerer is annoying even as a word, so is the term chief, which comes from our own culture, or better from our notion of what this culture was at the time of Caesar, with all those quarrelling Celtic, or later Irish or Scottish chieftains. The opposition between hereditary chiefs and big-men is just contrasting two European concepts. Melanesians have not been asked what was their feeling about the matter. The information we have now concerning the so-called Polynesian stratified societies shows that status inherited was very unstable and that ways and means were many which allowed for a growing mana or for losing the greater part of what status one inherited at birth. In the Pacific Islands, as elsewhere, there are winners and losers and a majority of people just standing by, either ready to shift allegiances, or, being their close kin, ready to support what misfortunes can come through the folly of their leader, if they do not find the courage to demote him. What one generation hasn't achieved can be done by the next one.

The idea that inequality is the fundamental principle is much more to the point. Exalted figures and men surviving through trying hard to be nothing, except that they may be obliged to support the former, exist side by side, the latter having to plant in greater quantities so as to make feasts possible, or benefiting from the food in other people's feasts. All feasts are competitive, in a way or another, in shell money or in the white man's gold, silver or paper money. The whole South Pacific carefully checks on the way presentations are made, as well as on the number of yams, or taro—by the ton—or fish, today of bulomakau meat, fresh or in tins. Each speech is analysed, compared with the norm, appreciated for its humorous flavour, for what has been introduced at certain points, and the meaning of what has been said or left untold.

The idea that Melanesian society, or some Melanesian societies, are founded on principles of equality, is only based on ignorance. There is no equality anywhere, but the cultivation of subtle differences in rank, acquired or inherited, or a mixture of both. The working principle which has been misrepresented for a theoretical tendency towards equality, is the one of the autonomy of the extended family, local translation of lineages which often cover a wide area. Rules of allegiance, when you observe how they work in effect, are very much ways and means of carefully paying homage to the dominant paramount person and at the same time obliging him to negotiate at every turn. This pseudo equality principle works as a protective device of individual freedom, obliging any ambition to become a lengthy and convoluted affair, where every step is watched by everybody and must be supported or at least silently accepted by the greater number. Opposition by one lineage only, or even by one local fraction of a lineage, is feasible and can last for many generations. Maurice Leenhardt showed a long time ago how chiefs could be abandoned by their so-called subjects and the - 549 Maori tradition tells us similar stories.

The South Pacific is what Lévi-Strauss calls a “transformation system”, an area where all societies play with the same cards, but each organises the game in a different way. Only the colonial rulers have imagined playing darker against lighter hue of skin, so-called Polynesians used as sailors, soldiers, policemen, teachers and pastors against the so-called Melanesians. They are one people and cannot be understood except as such. The differences maintained are nothing more than a colonial heritage persisting in scientific minds.

Nothing Epeli Hau'ofa describes seems to me in contradiction with what I know from elsewhere, and what I have learned to expect in the guise of social inventiveness in the region. His Mekeo people's declarations about the role of chiefs and the so-called sorcerers fit extremely well with other similar declarations elsewhere. When Pacific Islanders give their views of what are their laws, how they follow or manage to circumvent them, they tend to simplify complex relationships in the same way as we would do answering the same blunt question. They are maybe more systematic than we, because they are better logicians and more used than we to play with the interlocking factors of their own society.

I have been personally greatly satisfied with the kind treatment by Epeli Hau'ofa of former scholars having written on Mekeo. It is fitting that a Pacific Islander should pay homage to Seligmann, who Malinowski had quietly left aside although the former's analysis of the kula ring's overall character had great merits and should always be recalled in parallel with Malinowski's. But any discussion of hereditary chieftainship anywhere in the area should entail a comparison as well with the Omarakana one and the Tikopia case so marvellously documentated by Raymond Firth, one of the first authors to show, in fact, how ambiguity could be a functional principle in social organisation. That systems are never as perfect as anthropologists would want them to be, that they need to entail voids in their grids so as to be able to work and that individuals can be substituted one for the other when necessary, is one of Tikopia's lessons to anthropological knowledge. Epeli Hau'ofa has been describing another society, still well alive although anyone can run away from it to Port Moresby, and where the traditional structure can accommodate and reinterpret the strangest new experiments such as the consecration of Bishop Louis Vangeke. I have seen elsewhere European Catholic fathers treated by paramount chiefs as if they were the chaplains of their court and impulsively revolting against this type of recuperation. More and more, in the Pacific, the white man will be, willy-nilly, what the Islanders will want him to be, and nothing else, even if he is an anthropologist. It is time that Islanders take over the discourse about themselves in sufficient numbers so as to bring back our science on its two feet, them and us. Books such as Epeli Hau'ofa's Mekeo are a great step towards such an end.

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KEESING, Roger M. and R. TONKINSON (eds); Reinventing Traditional Culture: The Politics of Kastom in Island Melanesia. Mankind. (special issue) Vol.13, No.4. Sydney, Anthropological Society of New South Wales, 1982. 102pp., maps, photo. Price A$7.50 (paper).

Michael D. Myers University of Auckland

Traditional culture is undergoing something of a renaissance in Melanesia, and this special issue of Mankind looks at the contemporary uses of kastom as a political symbol. There are six ethnographic papers, introduced—albeit separately—by the two guest editors, Roger M. Keesing and Robert Tonkinson. Four of the papers focus on Vanuatu, while two papers are concerned with Malaita in the Solomon Islands.

In his overview, Keesing argues for the distinctiveness of the Melanesian use of “custom” as a political symbol, even though this usage is externally influenced. The use of kastom as a symbol of national or supranational unity is paradoxical when one considers the variety of languages and cultures in Melanesia. The vagueness and vacuity of kastom seems to be a factor in its success as a potent symbol. Keesing traces the symbolic importance of kastom back to earlier periods of anticolonial resistance, and charges outside observers with systematically failing to recognise the anticolonial nature of many older movements because of the mystical and millenarian terms in which they were cast. I heartily agree. “That Melanesians now express their aspirations in a form we can understand reflects both less mystical idioms on one side and less racist and colonialist premises on the other” (p.298). I can also agree with Keesing's assertion that it is an error to think of a spurious kastom as radically different from genuine culture. The evidence suggests that traditional Melanesian cultures were always dynamic and flexible.

Tonkinson, in his introduction, mentions the different uses of kastom at the local and national levels, and evaluates the various relationships that exist between kastom and Christianity. Despite the nationalist rhetoric, Tonkinson agrees with Keesing that custom adherents in the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu may be more under threat in the post-independent milieu now that both countries are controlled by Melanesian Christians.

In his paper which follows, entitled “National Identity and the Problem of Kastom in Vanuatu”, Tonkinson begins by describing the historical opposition of colonialism and Christianity to kastom, resulting in the devaluation of the latter. In the 1970s, however, the leaders of the independence movement used kastom as a unifying ideology in order to promote a distinctive non-European national identity. Despite this, Tonkinson concludes that “Western” and “Christian”, not “kastom”, principles are more likely to guide the Vanuatu Government in the future.

Lamont Lindstrom follows with a paper on the political history of tradition on - 551 Tanna. He believes that the use of kastom as a political symbol in the Pacific is “an attempt to read the present in terms of the past by writing the past in terms of the present” (p.317). What people accept as true kastom becomes the subject of a political dispute seeing that kastom can define national unity or separation. Lindstrom asserts that the attempts at unity and the creation of a national identity “stand on kastom's rather broad back” (p.318). Here, I believe, Lindstrom overlooks the role of the churches, in particular the influence of the Vanuatu Christian Council, which incorporates all of the major churches in Vanuatu, in the nationalist movement. While kastom is only an ideology, the churches exist as institutions. Lindstrom says that devaluation of traditional knowledge on Tanna resulted more from the efforts of the local Christians than from the missionaries—an assessment which agrees with that of Brunton (1981:366ff.). Lindstrom goes on to discuss the reinvention of some elements of traditional culture on Tanna in recent years.

Joan Larcom looks at the contemporary importance of kastom in South-West Bay, Malekula. While there was formerly a great deal of cultural borrowing, today kastom is evaluated in terms of its correspondence with Deacon's ethnography. Kastom is treated “as something like a text to be consulted, integrated, taught and transmitted rather than invented” (p.336). While Larcom acknowledges the inventive nature with which kastom is used at the national level, she maintains that in South-West Bay, the use of kastom as precedent signals the rise of a more rigid view of cultural tradition. But, we might ask, isn't the use of written ethnography by Malekulans in itself a clever and innovative method of cultural reconstruction?

Margaret Jolly shows how kastom as lived practice and political ideology “has been a strategy for responding to, modifying, and sometimes resisting the pressures of European ‘custom’” (p.338) in south Pentecost. Here, unlike most other places in Vanuatu, kastom is seen as opposed to colonialism, Christianity, capitalism and government. Jolly emphasises the self-consciousness of this resistance to European penetration, as she finds the geographical isolation of this area an insufficient explanation for the survival of tradition. Turning her eye to the increasing importance of the famous land dive as a tourist attraction, Jolly is uncertain as to its future effects on kastom. Outsiders have requested at times for the ritual to conform cosmetically to their notions of kastom, requests which betray a false, reified conception of pure culture. Jolly expresses the hope that the Vanuatu Government will consult with the kastom villagers as Government policy is formulated.

In a paper concerned with the Kwaio of central Malaita, Keesing looks at kastom as a political symbol among a people where the traditional religion, social organisation and exchange still exist. Keesing describes the attempts by the Kwaio to codify and “straighten out” their kastom, and their political resistance to the provincial government. Although other Malaita peoples such as the Kwara'ae have largely reconciled kastom and Christianity, for the pagans of Kwaio the two are irreconcilable. But on Malaita as a whole, kastom remains a symbol of unity despite these local differences.

The final paper in this collection is by Ben Burt, who examines the political uses - 552 of kastom among the Kwara'ae. Their origin myth tells of a man who came from Asia with his wife and family on a raft called Ark, bringing the ten commandments which governed traditional Kwara'ae culture with him. Though the Kwara'ae have rejected many aspects of the way of life instituted by the founding ancestor, Burt argues that, for some leaders, the origin myth is “a legitimation of their political aims and a charter for the organisations they have tried to create...” (p.376). The story legitimates the ritual organisation of land rights and the traditional moral code. Burt sees the formation of kastom ideology, of which this story is a part, as an attempt by the Kwara'ae to gain some independence from colonial domination. Despite national independence and the existence of the Malaita Council, the Kwara'ae continue to advocate and proclaim their unity in kastom in order to gain more control over political and economic development.

In sum, Keesing and Tonkinson have succeeded in bringing together a variety of papers and welding them into a reasonably tight publication. With such a contemporary issue as kastom in Melanesia, the treatment is far from exhaustive, but this collection is certainly an important contribution to the ongoing debate.

  • BRUNTON, R. 1981. “The Origins of the John Frum Movement: A Sociological Explanation,” in Allen, Michael (ed.), Vanuatu: Politics, Economics and Ritual in Island Melanesia. Sydney, Academic Press.

KEESING, Roger M.: Kwaio Religion: The Living and the Dead in a Solomon Island Society. New York, Columbia University Press, 1982. xi, 257 pp., figs, tables, maps, photos, glossary, index. Price US$36.50 (cloth), $18.50 (paper).

Geoffrey M. White East-West Center

The Kwaio are one of the few groups in the Solomon Islands to have resisted conversion to Christianity in significant numbers. Keesing underscores this fact in introducing his study of Kwaio religious life as a “window into the past” (13). This work is important not only as a detailed and dramatic look into the ongoing life of a traditional Oceanic religion, but also as an examination of the socio-political context for a religious conservatism which is unusual in insular Melanesia. The Kwaio, numbering approximately 7,000, occupy the mountainous central region of the island of Malaita, with Christians along the coast and traditionalists in the interior. Although they are isolated geographically, Keesing repeatedly notes similarities and contrasts between the Kwaio and other groups in Malaita and the Central Solomons which give this study broad regional significance.

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Noting that the Kwaio “do not conceptualize ‘religion’ as a separate cultural domain” (51), Keesing focuses his analysis on transactions with ancestral spirits, adalo, which are at the centre of a complex system of cultural knowledge and ritual. He suggests that certain elements of this system, such as the propitiation of ancestral spirits through the sacrifice of pigs, the use of certain plants in magical procedures, and the quest for mana, are both ancient and widespread in Oceania. Using detailed linguistic and observational data, Keesing is at his best in analysing the Kwaio analogues of mana and tabu, bringing much-needed clarity to ideas which have been as confused as they are important for comparative studies of Oceanic religions. The discussion of mana given here is a precursor of a more extended treatment of the subject now in preparation.

The theoretical approach of this book begins with a structural analysis of Kwaio religious ideology as a symbolic system, but then goes beyond “cultural cryptography” to examine the relations of religious practices to both individual experience and political interests. At different points in his discussion, Keesing conjures up the spirits of such intellectual ancestors as Freud and Marx. But the strength of this work lies in its thorough grounding in linguistic and ethnographic data accumulated during numerous field trips spanning a period of 17 years. Keesing makes good use of this material to eschew any simple generalisations about Kwaio religious life. Instead, he deals directly with problems of variation and contradiction which arise from the distribution of different kinds of religious knowledge throughout the social structure — among specialists and nonspecialists, men and women, young and old. He provides just enough of a glimpse of alternative modes of religious interpretation among Kwaio women that we can only hope a promised monograph examining this topic in more detail is not long in coming.

Another source of complexity which Keesing illuminates is the problem of cultural persistence and change. The Kwaio religious system is described as dynamic, responding to forces of change from outside as well as within the mountain communities. The process of conversion to Christianity, and relations between Christian and non-Christian Kwaio, are particularly important for an understanding of Kwaio responses to 110 years of contact with Europeans. This book provides an important expansion of the Kwaio perspective on contact history which Keesing has discussed in previous publications. In doing so, however, he ultimately adopts the perspective of his informants in assessing the effects of Christianisation elsewhere in the Solomons: “Alienated from their customs, alienated from their ancestors, they have ... become outsiders in their own homeland” (240). From the vantage point of neighbouring Christian islands, this indictment misses much of the cultural complexity which Keesing is so good at recognising in the Kwaio hills. But even this criticism may be something of a compliment for someone who has set out to convey “some sense of what it is like to live in (the Kwaio) world” (246).

In sum, this book is both ethnographically rich and theoretically balanced. It is a remarkable achievement which should not only be required reading for students of Oceanic cultures, but which should also take its place among the best examples of the anthropological study of religion.

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LANYON-ORGILL, Peter A.: Captain Cook's South Sea Island Vocabularies. London, Peter Lanyon-Orgill, 1979. xv, 287 pp., tables. Price £35. (Distributed by Smith's Bookshop Ltd, Wellington; Blackwell's, Oxford; Stevens and Brown, Surrey, England.)

Paul Geraghty Fijian Dictionary Project, Suva

Captain Cook's South Sea Island Vocabularies contains much more than the title promises. The area covered in this compendium of the linguistic data collected during Cook's three voyages in the Pacific is not just the South Sea Islands, but includes such places as Tierra del Fuego, Japan, and the Pacific coast of North America. Nor are the vocabularies only those of Captain Cook—who was not particularly interested in languages—but of many of those who sailed with him and put pen to paper to record indigenous languages. Nor is the work a collection of bare vocabularies; the compiler has placed each in its historical setting, and attempted to identify every word and phrase, using modern authorities.

The intent of this book is entirely laudable, and no one would argue with the author's claim that it “no doubt ... will prove to be a useful quarry for philologists for many years to come insofar as I have brought together a mass of linguistic information in a single volume” (p.x). The bringing together of the word-lists of Anderson, Forster, and so on, is indeed a valuable service. But there the value of this book ends. To demonstrate why, I will comment first on the 52 word-lists that have been published or are taken from manuscripts held in public museums or libraries; and then on the remaining 52, which are hitherto unpublished, and are described as having been in the possession of the author, Lanyon-Orgill. The reason for this division of labour will be made clear presently.

The known word-lists

The major sources of linguistic information for each of the three voyages are as follows: for the first, the published journal of Parkinson, and manuscripts by Banks and Solander preserved in Canberra, and published by Beaglehole; for the second, the official published account and that of Forster, and the collection of manuscripts edited by Anderson and housed in the Admiralty Library, London; and for the third, the official published account, and lists collected by Samwell, preserved in the British Museum, and published by Beaglehole. All this, and more, is reproduced in this book by Lanyon-Orgill.

In addition, he attempts to identify each item, using modern authorities, at the same time admitting that “... it has not been possible for me to consider each one (of the 47 languages) with equal expertise”. On the contrary, the expertise seems to be equally lacking, at least in every language that this reviewer is familiar with. Consider these two entries from Forster and Anderson's Tahitian vocabulary (p.123) where the third column is Lanyon-Orgill's identification:

Sit (to) down A'noho nahe
Skate (a) fish E'whaēē e-'ahi
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Although I am in no way a scholar of Tahitian, I can immediately recognise the above items as reflexes—presumably noho and fai or hai—of the extremely commonly reflected Proto Polynesian *nofo and *fai. Lanyon-Orgill, however, did not. One would have thought the following, from Anderson's Mangaia list, relatively straightforward:

A man Taata, or Tangata

What we recognise here is the optional application of a change from velar nasal to glottal stop, yielding taŋata or ta'ata. Lanyon-Orgill, however, sees a number of other possibilities. His identification reads:

tane, tangata; ta (‘the’); -ata (‘shadow’); taaka (‘naked’); tāiti (‘person’)

And so on. His identifications are hit and miss, and when he cannot find an identification, he frequently makes one up. For hit and miss, witness the following Tahitian identifications, all from Forster/Anderson:

Aô'rāūra ‘Brown colour’ -rava
Aūr'aūa ‘Crimson colour’ 'ura'ura
E'hōōtēē ‘Angle or fish’ tau-teute
E'hōōte ‘Catch fish with a line’ ahu
Era'hoë ‘Bigness-largeness-great’ e-rahi ‘large’
Era'hōī ‘Great-large-big’ e-roa
Era'hōī ‘Large, great-not small’ e-roa

The lists recorded at Tonga by Forster, Pickersgill, Anderson, and Samwell will serve as the object of more detailed scrutiny. These lists combined contain 931 entries. Of these, Lanyon-Orgill correctly identifies 662, approximately 70 percent; he offers no identification for 29 (17 of which I can identify), and for 151 the identification is wrong. The most disturbing statistic, however, is this: the remaining 89 entries are provided with “identifications” that simply do not exist in the authority Lanyon-Orgill says he is using (Churchward's Tongan Dictionary), and appear to be nothing more than naïve transliterations. For instance, beside Anderson's

Takkabou A coarse mat to sleep upon

Lanyon-Orgill gives te-kapu, implying that this word is found in Churchward's dictionary and means more or less what Anderson says it does. In fact, there is no such word as te-kapu; and the correct identification is not at all difficult to find: takapau ‘coconut-leaf floor mat’. Similarly, we see Anderson's

Oobai A song

identified as upai, again implying that Churchward lists this word, and it means something like ‘song’. Again this is incorrect: there is no such word, and the correct identification is 'ūpē ‘lullaby’. Note, incidentally, that Lanyon-Orgill failed even to notice that Anderson regularly transcribes [e] as ai.

The fact that only 70 percent of the entries are correctly identified does not in itself detract from the value of the book. But the fact that Lanyon-Orgill has - 556 chosen to fill up the blank spaces with nonexistent identifications means that the user must check every alleged identification to find out whether the word exists or not. The number of wrong identifications is staggering. One totally misleading abbreviation we see in the identification of Forster's

Club for fighting... Mā'ro

as the plausible-looking malo ‘spike’, when Churchward's definition of malo reads: ‘flower-spike of the breadfruit tree’.

The “newly-discovered” word-lists

Of the 104 word-lists reproduced, 58 are from manuscripts owned by Lanyon-Orgill, 51 of which belong to the “Lanyon manuscripts” and seven to the “Lanyon-Orgill collection”. Four of the “Lanyon-Orgill collection” (6, 12, 16, 52) and two of the “Lanyon manuscripts” (28, 57) are copies from published works or known manuscripts, and no satisfactory explanation is given as to why the text reproduces the copies rather than the originals. The remainder—three of the “Lanyon-Orgill collection” and 49 of the “Lanyon manuscripts”—are described by the author as newly-discovered records of Cook's voyages. These “newly-discovered” word-lists are interspersed with the known lists, the text being arranged in chronological order, so that contrasts between the “known” and the “newly-discovered” are not immediately apparent. But when we extract the newly-discovered lists and look at them as a group, some important points of contrast emerge. Most strikingly, whereas in the “known” word-lists, on average, 4 percent of the entries are unidentified and 25 percent wrongly or incompletely identified, all of the entries in the “newly-discovered” word-lists are identified, and the glosses are all remarkably similar to those of the modern authorities. As such, of course, they tell us absolutely nothing new about the languages concerned, merely serving to confirm the accuracy of both original field workers and modern authorities. The contrast is disturbing, particularly as the outstanding feature of the “known” word-lists is the discrepancy between meanings collected by Cook's companions and those given by modern authorities, sometimes because of meaning change, but mostly because of misunderstandings in elicitation and shortcomings in the modern authorities. For this reason and for others which will be given below, I have been forced to conclude that these “newly-discovered” word-lists are not what their discoverer describes them as, but poorly crafted fabrications based entirely on modern authorities.

The craftsmanship is, indeed, appalling. The attempt to make the orthography look like that of the real lists is confined to rendering [u] as oo, [i] as ee, and so on. As might be expected from their education, word-gatherers of Cook's expeditions frequently used diacritics—macrons, accents grave and acute, diaeresis, and so on, some more consistently than others. Anderson was very fond of them, and Forster often had them in pairs. In all of the “newly-discovered” manuscripts, however, diacritics appear only once (a few macrons in number 66). Although most of the reputed authors of the Lanyon-Orgill manuscripts are not known to have recorded languages otherwise, one notable exception is Forster, to whom Lanyon-Orgill attributes five of his manuscripts. Lanyon-Orgill, failing to note that Forster otherwise consistently writes [ai] as āi, never using the y beloved - 557 of his English-speaking colleagues, has “Forster” writing y regularly.

The Lanyon-Orgill manuscripts abound in anachronisms. For Easter Island, “Burney” gives neeo, neeu ‘coconut’, seemingly corroborated by the modern authority, Fuentes, who gives niu. Forster, the expedition's naturalist, however, failed to elicit a term for coconut on Easter Island because they “have none” (p.51). The authentic manuscripts from Easter Island—numbers 23 (actually three lists), 27, and 28—show that *k was regularly realised as glottal stop (presumably—the manuscripts show zero) before stressed non-front vowels. According to Fuentes, however, *k is always reflected as k; and so it is also in Lanyon-Orgill's Easter Island lists. Similarly, it is clear from the authentic sources that the word for ‘eight’ was the historically regular varu. But Fuentes gives bau, showing irregular loss of *r (or possibly a misprint) and so do Lanyon-Orgill's Easter Island word-gatherers.

Anachronistic sounds crop up also in Hawaii. Cook's expedition arrived at a time when there was considerable difference between the sound systems of the islands of Hawaii (as indeed there still is). We note from the authentic records that in Kauai *t was always reflected as t and *ŋ sometimes as ŋ, but mostly n; and that at Kealakekua, on the Big Island, *ŋ was always reflected as n, and *t divided fairly evenly between t and k. Nowhere do we find what has become the Standard Hawaiian phonology of *ŋ and *t becoming n and k. Yet Lanyon-Orgill has “King” recording the Standard Hawaiian n and k throughout for Kealakekua, as does “Ellis” for Niihau, where even today t is frequently used in preference to k! Hawaii is also furnished with anachronistic fauna: the list of Hawaiian bird names attributed to Clerke includes manu aroha, a term that refers exclusively to introduced species (S. H. Elbert, personal communication).

At the other extreme, the new word-lists have obviously been strained too hard to allow for sound change. Aware, perhaps, that the glottal stop in such languages as Samoan, Tahitian, and Hawaiian reflects an earlier *k, the author has “Portlock” record from Tonga kooha, fetookoo, motooka, and kanga for contemporary 'uha, fetu'u, motu'a, and 'anga. Unfortunately for him, Tongan glottal stop has not, in fact, evolved from *k, at least not within the last 5000 years, since it reflects Proto Austronesian glottal stop.

The prize for the most implausible manuscript, however, must go to number 59, which purports to be a scrap of paper, written by James Burney within a month of his arrival in Tahiti, in which he tries his hand at Bible translation. The first two chapters of the parable of the Good Samaritan he drafts thus:

Ooa paraw adora Jesus naw adora Tehoe ta'ata no Jerusalem ee haere tia dora e Jericho, e atee adora ee te nanaeia, paw ikore tona aho ee te tarratarrahia e ratoo, e parapara ikore oya, haere adora ratoo, faaroe ikore yana ooa phatata ee te pohe. Ooa haere noa mayra tehue tahooa natana ra ee yaheeo adora yana fatahahaw ee adora na tetahy pay ea adora te haere.

Four decades later, the missionaries published their version:

Ua parau adura Iesu, nao adura, Tehoe taata no Ierusalema, i haere tia dura i Ieriho, e ati adura i te nana eiā, pau i'hora tona ahu i te taratarahia e ratou, e parapara ih'ora oia, haere adura ratou, faarue ih'ora iana, ua fatata i te - 558 pohe. Ua haere noa maira tehoe tahua na tana ea ra, e ia hio adura iana, faaehahau ē adura na tetahi pae ea adura te haere.

Any comment here would surely be superfluous.

Not only are the manuscripts themselves totally implausible, but the described circumstances of their collection are a catalogue of contradictions. In Tuamotu, “no close contact was made with the natives, but two short word-lists collected by Francis Wilkinson and John Satterly are preserved in the Lanyon papers” (p.4). At Fate, “no contact was made ... Forster, however, recorded a vocabulary” (p.73). At Espiritu Santo, “apparently no landing was made ... J. R. Forster recorded a vocabulary ... [which] however, does not represent the dialect of the Bay itself, but is in the Nogugu language” which is, incidentally, “fairly well documented” (p.85). At New Caledonia, “No references to landings on the [East] coast are found in Cook's records, but ... a short vocabulary was collected by Joseph Gilbert” (p.93). There are “no references in Cook's journals and logs to close contacts with the natives [near the Isle of Pines], but Forster collected a vocabulary” (p.95). It would be extremely tedious to list all such instances—suffice it to say that many similar feats of telelexicography are recorded, most notably at considerable distances from the coasts of Oregon and Japan.

It is very unfortunate that the newly-discovered “Lanyon manuscripts” have been lost. We are, however, spared no details. William Lanyon—as Beaglehole confirms—served on Cook's second and third voyages. Lanyon-Orgill traces descent from him, and follows the Cornish lineage in a minutely documented appendix (in which we learn that Lanyon was born in 1747, his mother having been baptised in 1675 (p.283), and being therefore at least 72 years of age, at which the mind boggles). Lanyon-Orgill relates in the Preface how he discovered his ancestor's collection of word-lists—“obviously a highly important document” (p.ix)—and was preparing them for publication when they were seized by the Sheriff of Edinburgh as a form of security for debts he had incurred, along with his “extensive library, the largest specialist collection on Austronesian languages in private hands, including some 20,000 volumes ...”, all of which was sold to a bookseller, so that “vast sections ... have disappeared, including the Lanyon manuscripts” (ibid.).

The casual reader could be forgiven for thinking Lanyon-Orgill an acknowledged authority on Pacific languages. The “Balliol College, Oxford” inscribed beneath his name, however, merely tells us where he spent his undergraduate years. We are told that Dr Beaglehole consulted Lanyon-Orgill on “various linguistic problems which had arisen in the course of the preparation of his monumental edition of Cook's Journals”, but Beaglehole acknowledges the linguistic help of Frank Stimson only. He mentions field work in Australia (p.35), New Hebrides (p.68, p.85), and Canada (p.171), but no results have been published; and remarks like “Ainu was probably originally an Austronesian language” (p.222) and “Japanese is demonstrably an Austronesian language” (ibid.) assign Lanyon-Orgill to a school of linguistic thought of which he is almost certainly the sole adherent.

All of this is very sad, for the topic deserves serious study. Early records such as - 559 those of Cook's voyages are seldom, in fact, the “hopeless mess” Beaglehole takes them for. Letters may have been used in unexpected ways, words divided arbitrarily, and meanings guessed at; but an experienced linguist knows how unfamiliar sounds are perceived and transcribed by speakers of various languages, and is familiar enough with elicitation situations to anticipate the misunderstandings that arise from unrehearsed pantomime.

ROSE, Roger G.: A Museum to Instruct and Delight. Honolulu, Bishop Museum Press Special Publication 68, 1980. vii, 77 pp., plates. Price US$6.50 (paper).

David Simmons Auckland Institute and Museum

This booklet of 77 pages tells the story of the founding of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum in Honolulu. It is published as a commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the founding of that museum. It is not intended as a history, but more of the story of how the museum came to be. As such it must also be the story of William Tufts Brigham, the first curator and director.

The museum arose from the wish of Charles Reed Bishop to build a memorial to his wife, Princess Pauahi Bishop. Its earlier antecedents were “The National Museum of Archaeology, Literature, Botany, Geology and Natural History of the Hawaiian Islands”, established by an act of Parliament signed by King Kamehameha V in 1812. Its site was in the Ali'iōlani Hale, the newly completed Government building. Charles Reed Bishop as President of the Board of Education was given the job of developing the museum. Little happened over the next few years, until in 1882 it became a pawn in the political game and passed to the Prime Minister, Walter Murray Gibson. The museum flourished until it was too closely linked with power politics. Gibson sent a collecting expedition to Samoa thus hoping to cement the ties between the Kingdom of Hawaii and an independent Samoa. Unfortunately, Germany, the United States and Britain were then negotiating a division of the area. It is an echo of modern events that Gibson was overthrown as Prime Minister during a revolution on June 30, 1887. He was exiled and the museum development stopped.

In 1884 Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who had inherited about one ninth of the Kingdom of Hawaii, died leaving the whole of her personal property to her husband, Charles Reed Bishop. She was last of the three female ali'i of the Kamehameha dynasty. All her lands were set aside in her will as the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate directed solely to the upkeep of the Kamehameha Schools. The personal property left to her husband included a Hawaiian ethnographic collection. Another of her relatives, Queen Emma, widow of Kamehameha IV, died in 1885 leaving her collection of Hawaiian artefacts to Bishop on condition that they be placed with those of Bernice Pauahi Bishop in a Kamehameha museum. These conditions were written in a codicil which was not legal but her wish to - 560 found a Kamehameha museum was one of the factors which led to the establishment of the Bishop Museum. The Hawaiian National Museum was by this time seen as woefully inadequate: Charles Reed Bishop decided to act. In 1888 the museum building started in the grounds of the Kamehameha School to house both Bernice Pauahi Bishop's and Queen Emma's collections. In 1890 it was completed and on May 21, 1890 the Hawaiian National Museum was passed over to the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum and Brigham appointed as its first curator.

There is much more to the story but this booklet stops with the final establishment of the museum under a separate trust deed in 1896 which finally separated it from the Kamehameha Schools.

The background to the story, the decline and memorialising of the ali'i in a museum and the events which caused it to emerge are only incidental to the story of the museum and Brigham. He emerges as an energetic scholar of diverse abilities, possibly a genius. Bernice Pauahi Bishop and the other ali'i do not emerge at all. Missionary sons, politicians, some European scholars and humanitarians are there but the real human tragedy behind the events and the people most affected by it are mere shadows. To me their story should always tip the other side of the balance in which the work of the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum should be weighed now and in the future.

Roger Rose dedicates his work “to the spirit of a new and promising generation of Pacific Museums arising at last and in response to the needs and wishes of the peoples of the Pacific themselves”.

RUBEL, Paula G., and Abraham ROSMAN: Your Own Pigs You May Not Eat: A Comparative Study of New Guinea Societies. Canberra, Australian National University Press, 1978. xiv, 368 pp., figs, maps, index. Price A$25.00.

James B. Watson University of Washington

In concluding their earlier study of potlatch societies (Feasting With Mine Enemy), Rosman and Rubel propose retracing Mauss' path “to examine societies in Melanesia and Polynesia in the light of our potlatch model” (1971:207). Their present analysis of 13 Melanesian societies surely follows from that plan, but it makes no reference whatever to a “potlatch-type society” nor indeed to “potlatch”. The omission would seem to have a bearing on the comparison of societies and exchange systems, if not on the structural approach itself—and perhaps it also bears on the pioneering suggestions of Mauss, but one can only guess at the reasons for the omission. Did Mauss' lead prove false? Or is it that in Melanesia structural criteria yielded not one but several types of society, none of them potlatch? The authors do in fact recognise four categories of exchange structures and they hypothesise a fifth, each by implication a different type of society putatively adapted to a different setting. Except in typological terms, - 561 however, these five categories are not parts of a single continuous array, nor are they variations around a particular structural norm, potlatch or other. This may be the essential, albeit unstated, difference between the earlier study and the present one, a point to which I briefly return below.

Like its predecessor, in any case, the present study applies the structural precepts of Lévi-Strauss to societies of a single region. By concentrating on a small number of well-specified criteria, Rubel and Rosman produce a tight comparison. By choosing a regional sample, they examine a relatively narrow range of social systems whose habitats and histories must be presumed in some sense to overlap. The value of such a study does not depend, of course, on finding some predetermined type of society. In an area where systematic comparison has not kept pace with ethnographic research, moreover, the present analysis can only be welcomed.

The sampled societies include the Tor of north-eastern Irian Jaya and Keraki on the south coast of Papua New Guinea, Wogeo, an offshore island, four Sepik societies (Arapesh, Abelam, Banaro, Iatmul), and six from the central highlands of Papua New Guinea (Enga, Melpa, Kuma, Manga, Maring, and Chimbu)—broadly speaking, a range from lowland to highland peoples. The five categories of the typology itself are differentiated by their relative complexity, with specific reference to the exchange of women and foodstuffs. The elementary/complex dichotomy of Lévi-Strauss provides the main yardstick, with sister exchange, delayed exchange (as in patrilateral second cross-cousin marriage), and the absence of both as key features marking a progression toward a greater number/variety of dyadic structures. Lowland-to-Sepik-to-highlands provides the roughly matching geographic series.

Once typological and geographical series are established, the analysis continues, chapter by chapter, examining further variables: kin groups, kin terminologies, marriage rules and structures of affinal relationship, affinal exchanges at rites of passage, ceremonial exchange, the place of big-manship in exchange, and the symbolism of exchange—here largely the ideology of gender, everywhere central but locally diversified among the sampled societies. Like other parts of the analysis, this involves the patient handling of much detail, with repetition that is sometimes tedious—as much for the analysts, no doubt, as for the reader—but nevertheless essential.

The last chapter is an application and a test of the typology: what do the structural differences mean? The categories from simple to complex are now presented as a sequence of structural transformations. As in certain older methods, history is educed and differences of external context are inferred from internal resemblances and degrees of formal congruence among structural types or categories. Some of the questions raised by this procedure, the authors note, are already familiar to critics of structuralism. Since the present work is viewed as an expression of exchange theory (p.2 et passim), however, certain further questions may also be asked. How well does this highly specialised typology support a development from a “prototypal” first category of exchange systems to the more complex third and fourth categories? How sturdy is the approach for predicting the hypothetical category that the authors postulate as transitional between the - 562 second and the last two? Based on the dyads involved in exchanging food and women, the structural approach pays close attention to how certain exchange roles and certain gifts are configured in folk theory. How accurately and comprehensively does folk theory epitomise—as distinct from differentiating—whole exchange systems? The exchanges of primary importance for their typology, the authors suggest, have little or no utilitarian significance (p.1). Certainly the more immediately utilitarian components of exchange—gifts directly promoting security or reducing the risk/uncertainty of shortages, above all warfare, intelligence, rights of asylum, and military assistance—play no consistent part, if any, in the analysis. Yet in the end it is the impingement of the external world, whose problems surely demand utilitarian solutions, against which the typology is measured. It is the population densities of Central Highlands societies and the intensity of their rivalrous gift production that are seen to correlate with (or explain) the more complex structures of that region. Accepting this, one may still ask whether, as compared to other exchange variables, structural types are more acutely diagnostic of external adaptation, or if their primary significance is mainly that of being ideologically salient.

More than merely anchoring the poles of their structural continuum in the ecological contrast between the lowlands and the highlands, furthermore, the authors read history itself from the structural grid. They see their findings as favouring the gradualist view of late prehistoric change in the Central Highlands—that the recent adoption of the sweet potato as the major regional crop had no swift or substantial consequences (pp.341-5). This remarkably specific inference begs for elucidation, for now not only are overall direction and the broad adaptiveness of structures educed from typology, but the amount of structural difference between putatively adjacent types is used to measure external change and the rate at which it occurred! (Has the intervening hypothetical category been overlooked in reaching this conclusion?) Since the authors consider the structural difference to be small, in any case, they conclude that recent ecological changes in the Central Highlands cannot have been great nor hence, despite their recency, precipitate. As it happens, the gradualist position has been losing ground of late, but no matter. If structure can reasonably yield historical insights of such detail, much more can surely be said about the match between internal structuring and external adaptiveness, as well as about rates of structural change.

In approaching exchange systems in relation to the external world, one problem in using structural types and transformations is their restricted focus on certain dyadic structures as somehow synoptic of the total system. Intergroup exchange structures include fields (or networks) as well as the dyadic molecules inherent in all exchange activity. It is presumably because in their Melanesian study Rubel and Rosman are not dealing with a single field of exchange that they found no single type of society or exchange structure, though it would require considering the exchange fields their sample actually represents to explain why (apparently) no potlatch-type society occurred. Field variables are demonstrably crucial in determining the strategy and hence the content and intensity of exchange, as I have elsewhere argued. For reasons at least partly independent of strategy, however, it is the molecules or dyads that invariably become the focus of - 563 normative and symbolic elaboration. A key question, therefore, concerns the factors that produce ideologically dominant, focal or salient dyads, overtly and covertly framing them in local thought: how are these factors or frames related to exchange strategy, as individuals and groups cope with nature and their neighbours? Often implicit in these pages, the question arises directly in the closing chapter. It needs to be answered.

Such questions attest the theoretical value of the present study. More generally the study has the merit of all good comparative studies in making systematic use of standard criteria whose relevance is backed by an explicit rationale. Substantively, this work by Rubel and Rosman will surely serve as a regional benchmark, as prime material for seminar discussion, and, one hopes, as an inspiration for further synthesis of the rich ethnography in the region with which it deals. The title, by the way, comes from one such ethnography. Recorded by Mead, it is a statement that pigs must be used only for exchange.

SHORE, Bradd: Sala'ilua: A Samoan Mystery. New York, Columbia University Press, 1982. xvii, 338 pp., figs, tables, maps, photos, apps, index. Price US$36.40 (cloth), $18.20 (paper).

Judith Huntsman University of Auckland

Bradd Shore has extensively revised, rearranged and abridged his doctoral dissertation and given it the arresting title Sala'ilua: A Samoan Mystery. Sala'ilua, a village on the south coast of Savai'i, is the venue of “violent death in high places”, which poses the mystery that Shore, the resident ethnographer, attempts to solve. Whodunnit is immediately known; the mystery is the apparently paradoxical and truly complex culture in which the murder happened. The murder and its aftermath provide clues, as well as dramatic entry points, into a wide-ranging cultural investigation, and, in turn, this investigation is grounded by harking back to actual events. Shore does not claim to fully solve his mystery, but his penetrating search is illuminating. In the end, Samoa is not so paradoxical, yet it remains fascinatingly complex.

The “Events” are recounted in the first two chapters. Employing the literary devices of introspection (before the murder) and retrospection (after the murder), just enough information is slipped into the reportorial narrative to save the reader from bafflement. The artifice is obvious and made necessary by the author's decision to begin with drama.

The following five chapters are devoted to a delineation of “Structures” in a structural-functionalist mode. Village spatial arrangements, principles of social and political organisation, the articulation of roles and institutions, membership and activities of named groups, and rules and conventions governing behaviour are described and explained. These “Structures”, illustrated primarily by ex- - 564 amples taken from Sala'ilua, are generalised to all Samoa, though the author cautions that Sala'ilua has its unique character (as do other Samoan villages). Shore's explanatory descriptions are lucid, yet he does not over-simplify the intricacies of Samoan social and political arrangements, and here we have the best explication of the matai ‘chiefly title’ system that I know of. “Structures” presents the ideal state of order and control, of rights, duties and proprieties as a framework in which people act not always orderly and properly. The reader too is equipped with a framework required to comprehend what follows.

“Meanings” is the title of the last and largest part of the book. In seven chapters Shore engages in a theoretically eclectic and boldly innovative exploration of Samoan culture. Whatever flaws there may be in the formulations and propositions, the interpretative analysis is impressive and well documented by ethnographic and linguistic evidence. A variety of strategies are used to uncover “Meanings”; the intricate argument is not easily summarised.

First, Occidental and Samoan constructs of “Persons” are contrasted, using the analogy of sphere and gem. Occidentals conceive of “persons” as rounded, coherent selves, as self-contained, consistent individuals. For Samoans “persons” are a collection of ‘sides’ (itū), which respond in different ways to specific relationships and contexts. While a spherical Occidental “person” is expected to behave consistently, a gem-like Samoan “person” is expected to behave appropriately in terms of which ‘side’ is acting (which facet refracting). This proposition, supported by diverse and persuasive evidence, is the keystone to what follows.

“Action” is next explored. Shore maintains that the often-noted paradoxical nature of Samoan character is an artefact of Occidental assumptions about consistent “persons”, which are confounded when a gentle, courtly Samoan responds to some person or situation with aggressive toughness. To come to terms with Samoan concepts of action, Shore analyses the usage and meaning of two words: āmio and aga. Though these words are often used interchangeably, they have, he argues, crucial if subtle differences in meaning. Āmio refers to personally motivated, impulsive behaviours and acts, often, though not always, antisocial and deprecated. Aga refers to socially inculcated appropriate conduct. Translated passages from interviews are used very effectively to portray a Samoan-Hobbesian vision of unrestrained human impulses—wild, selfish, evil āmio—which are constrained by social controls, bonds and proprieties, giving rise to aga. Quoted statements which are seemingly contradictory celebrate both āmio (personal freedom to do as one pleases) and aga (propriety). But this, Shore argues, is a matter of context, not inconsistency. From a Samoan viewpoint, in some situations it is commendable to give way to impulse—or at least it is only to be expected.

Turning to “Knowledge and Judgement”, the exploration moves on to how actions are assessed and responsibility assigned. Samoans are chary of hearsay information, giving precedence to what is seen. Consequently, judgments tend to be based on specific behaviours seen in particular contexts. Furthermore, Samoans have a passion for complex situations (fa'alavelave) in which forms and relationships are publicly elaborated, negotiated and modified. This makes know- - 565 ing and judging a subtle business; evaluations are specific and conditional. The upshot of a very complex argument is that moral evaluations of behaviours are externalised. An act is not wrong unless it is publicly exposed, i.e., seen, and the actor recognises, i.e., sees, his wrong. The joker in the piece is that, given the public character of Samoan life and an all-seeing Almighty, someone always sees and the culprit is made to see the wrong sooner or later.

In these three chapters, Shore primarily bases his argument on what people say, through semantic analysis of Samoan words and phrases, and examination of translated statements. He relies heavily on his own language competence, which is considerable, but cautiously notes George Milner's observations about the controversial nature of Samoans' explanations of meanings in their own language. Readers familiar with Samoan may wish that transcriptions of translated statements were included—what exactly was said. However, readers unfamiliar with Samoan may well be somewhat overwhelmed by the proliferation of Samoan words. Obviously, not all readers could be fully accommodated, and Shore has managed the problem quite well. Good English glosses in parentheses normally follow Samoan words, and crucial Samoan words and phrases are inserted (set off by brackets) in translated statements.

An entirely different strategy is used in the chapter on “Conflict in the Context of Social Relations”. Here the analytical ethnographer takes over, formulating a typology of relational contexts. This exercise in schematisation is flawed by over-elaboration (perhaps the Samoan passion for complication has rubbed off on the ethnographer). Defining status as qualitative distinctions within a relational set, and rank as differences of degree in a continuum, Shore sets up four relational types formed by the intersection of two values for status—symmetrical and complementary—and two values for rank—absent and present. To this two-by-two format he assigns specific dyadic relationships which are labelled: 1. symmetrical-ranked, 2. symmetrical-unranked, 3. complementary-ranked, and 4. complementary-unranked. The last type is analytically most useful, as Shore amply demonstrates, and the second is necessarily required for contrast. The other two types, created by the crosscutting ranked-unranked contrast, over-complicate the scheme and are only briefly discussed. Rank, I think, should have been treated as a separate issue. It raises interesting problems, which Shore does not pursue. Samoans both celebrate and avidly seek rank, and conversely underplay and mask it. The statements that “... rank differences in Samoa are tentative and open to alteration and frequent dispute” (213), and that there is “... an ambiguity, blurring, and even denial of rank distinctions” (214) suggest that Samoa is a ranked society with an egalitarian ethic. In symmetrical-ranked relations, Shore notes that the inferior is always challenging the superior and thereby denying intrinsic inferiority, and that the relationship is inherently unstable. But what of the complementary-ranked relationships, characterised as stable and non-competitive, and epitomised by the parent/child relationship? Is not the inferior always potentially the superior, e.g., children usually become parents? I would suggest that in these relationships inequality is not denied because subordinates can anticipate eventually being on top.

What Shore does explore very thoroughly is the complementary-unranked rela- - 566 tional set epitomised by the sister/brother relationship of feagaiga ‘covenant’. On the one side is the controlled, passive and honoured sister; on the other side is the active, aggressive though deferential brother. One chapter examines this relational set as “dual organisation” in the kinship and political orders: another looks at its aesthetic expression in dance and speech as a means of defining and manipulating roles and contexts.

Shore's exploration of “dual organisation” is illuminating, but again he pushes his scheme too far by attempting to include all female/male relationships. Certainly, gender symbolism is involved here, but not all female/male role dyads fit comfortably in the scheme. Specifically, the wife/husband relationship, marked by sexual intimacy, is the antithesis of the sister/brother feagaiga, which vehemently denies sexuality. Shore is aware of this conceptual problem, but his attempt to resolve it is unsatisfactory. He writes: “Sexual relations thus become for Samoans a residual problem of structural incongruity” (230). Perhaps the structural inconguity is a problem of the anthropologist's formulation.

Thanks to the work and comments of another ethnographer of Samoa, Penelope Schoeffel, Shore has substantially revised this formulation in an article on “Sexuality and Gender in Samoa” (Shore 1981; Schoeffel 1978, 1979). Here he highlights (as does Schoeffel) the contrast between the females as sisters and wives. As sisters, females are honoured and served by their brothers, and ascribed a controlling, if latent, power (mana) over them. As wives, females are subordinated; they serve their husbands and are under their husbands' authority (pule). In Samoan villages, females as sisters and daughters are referred to as teine ‘girls’, irrespective of their age and marital status, and are set apart from females as wives, who are referred to as fafine ‘women’. ‘Girls’ are members of the village by birth and are ascribed an honoured position within it. ‘Women’ are of the village by marriage and their position within it is contingent upon that of their husbands. One important difference between ‘girls’ and ‘women’ is the inferred absence and presence of sexual activity with reference to the particular village. Returning to the book under review: where do ‘women’-wives fit into the scheme? Do they fit in at all?

In the political sphere, however, the complementary characterisation of the ali'i ‘chief’ as like the honoured and restrained sister vis-à-vis the tulafale ‘orator’ as like the active and outgoing brother is persuasive. This distinction between two complementary aspects of power is pervasive in Polynesia, and Shore's exploration of its Samoan manifestations is illuminating. Each type of titleholder (matai) exhibits in his deportment and conduct one aspect, and the contrast is marked in numerous ways: how he sits, how he is addressed, the food he receives, the containers he eats and drinks from, and so on. Shore notes the tendency for the active ‘orator’ to overshadow the constraining ‘chief’, though ideally the two aspects of power should be in complementary balance. This leads to an examination of the changing connotation of mana ‘sacred power’. Mana in Christian Samoa has become an exclusive attribute of the Almighty (and sisters?); ‘chiefs’ no longer have it. In the political arena, mana and pule as powers sacred and secular of the passive ‘chief’ and active ‘orator’ respectively have been replaced by a distinction between pule embodied in ‘chiefs’ and fai pule done by ‘orators’. The constraining ‘chief’ is no longer sanctified, even if he continues to be - 567 honoured. No wonder his power is diminished. I have extended Shore's argument a bit, and I think it could be further developed. (Schoeffel has discussed the post-Christian decline in sisterly mana.)

The chapter on expressive culture focuses on how social contexts are marked, recognised and manipulated by style and tone. At one extreme are formal and decorous contexts, which are linked with sisters and ali'i; at the other intimate and active contexts, which are linked with brothers and tulafale. Dance provides a clear example: the restrained, graceful siva is contrasted with the raucous, clowning 'aiuli. Ways of speaking are more complicated. Shore claims that lexical usage, i.e., respect versus common vocabulary items, is not isomorphic with phonological usage, i.e., “proper” [t] versus “colloquial” [k] pronunciation. Different contrasts are being made. Vocabulary distinguishes formal, deferential contexts from intimate, equal ones, while phonology defines contexts as truly Samoan—[k]—or foreign (palagi)—[t]. The two contrasts do intersect and here the author's two-by-two table is useful, and leads on to a discussion of Samoan ambivalence about things foreign.

In the concluding chapter, the “Events” of the first chapters are reviewed in light of the intervening investigation. Shore emphatically denies that in exploring and interpreting “Structures” and “Meanings” he has reduced Samoans to ciphers at the mercy of their culture. Though “Structures” and “Meanings” provide “... powerful models for experience”, Samoans actively create events, modify structures and re-negotiate meanings. He cannot fully account for the murder.

It is unfortunate that so good a book is marred by such sloppy production. Typos abound; one particularly unfortunate one produces the phrase: “... the complexities of Samoan political lie” (69). Surely “life” was intended. The section headings within chapters have Samoan words in italics or roman type apparently at whim. Appendix C, referred to on page 9, is nowhere to be found. And, I venture to guess that several of the tabular listings which serve to summarise relational contrasts contain misplaced items which will confound many readers. Are not manual worker/clerical worker and worker/boss transposed in Table 13.8?

One would hardly expect a work which is so boldly innovative and comprehensive to be without flaws. My criticisms are meant to celebrate it, not to demean it. While I argue that Shore pushes his analytical formulations too far, I believe that the paradigmatic relationships in his relational sets are valid. The problem is his compulsion to encompass everything in his scheme. The book is as fascinating and rich as the culture it portrays. The Samoan mystery has not been solved but Shore has made it a good deal more intelligible.

  • SCHOEFFEL, Penelope, 1978. “Gender, Status and Power in Samoa”. Canberra Anthropology, 1 (2):69-81.
  • — 1979. Daughters of Sina. Ph.D. thesis, Australian National University.
  • SHORE, Bradd, 1981. “Sexuality and Gender in Samoa: Conceptions and Missed Conceptions”, in S. Ortner and H. Whitehead (eds), Sexual Meanings. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
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SINCLAIR, Marjorie (ed.), The Path of the Ocean. Traditional Poetry of Polynesia. Honolulu, University of Hawaii Press, 1982. xxiii, 216 pp. Price US$17.95.

Wendy Pond Waiheke Island

This is not a collection of Polynesian poetry: the work does not contain a single Polynesian text. This is a collection of other people's translations, touched up and presented without the translators' names on the page. I have spent eight years translating Filianga's “Hiva Kakala”, a common love song of three verses and chorus; will I find that translation sanctified to someone else's taste, anthologised without my name? If these are academic conventions, they need changing.

Here is a work beautifully printed and bound, lavishly laid out with just one poem to a page, edited with an elegance and fluency consistent throughout. Without the Polynesian texts, there is no further distraction than the light glancing from the surface, unlike the flashes of revolving hand gestures dark and light on the mala'e, the heliaki deflecting attention from each metaphor's intent and intensifying an audience's sense of aesthetic beauty. Western society fulfils its fantasies of Polynesian mystique, skimming the path of the ocean in this easy editing, while the Polynesian poets cut and grind. ‘Ah, surely a most laughable thing is sitting around Tonga and the isles’, reiterates Sinclair (p.70), while Collocott's notes (1928:137-8) give insight into the poet's sardonic mocking: ‘The way Tongatapu and her offsiders sit around is laughable.’

Sinclair's dust jacket says: ‘She has scrupulously edited the old translations, modernised where necessary...’. “How I love her way” by the well-known gentleman, Tangata'iloa (p.68-9) is a translation of Collocott's. Collocott published it alongside a Tongan text (1928:89-90). The text has Inu-mo-me'a, Mulikiha'ame'a [Mulikiha'amea in modern usage in Bott 1982], Ma'u-kuo-ma'a, while Sinclair follows Collocott's English translation and has Inumomea, Mulikihaamea, Maukuomaa. Collocott was directing his translations to a European readership which ignored glottal stops. So does the University of Hawaii (sic) Press.

The line Tuitu'u fakava'e siale means a style of garland (tuitu'u) made with gardenia flowers (siale) and worn around the leg or ankle (fakava'e). It was translated accurately by Collocott: ‘My cincture entwined with siale.’ Sinclair has edited the line as ‘My belt entwined with siale,’ wrongly.

English and Polynesian languages do not have a common cultural base. How can an English translation render ethnographic context, poetic beauty, composer's tone of voice, metaphorical meanings, interplays between surface appearances and underlying import? The tradition has been to provide text, a poem for poem translation, and notes. The translations remain empty cockle shells. It may be possible to write an essay, from which readers return to the text, forgoing translation.

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Some of the great poems of Tonga are presented as faiva: multi-media productions of dance-poetry-music: Queen Sālote's “Tō e Folofola mei Mu'a” in the lakalaka dance performed by the Niuafo'ou people of 'Eua; Sioeli Filianga's “Matafi 'a e Tonga 'i Fale” in the lakalaka performed by Hihifo village of Niuatoputapu. We denigrate Tongan faiva by studying its music without its more highly developed forms of dance and poetry, approaching from the Western perspective of our own cultural hierarchy. Some musicologists remain silent on this. Can't they dance?

In beauty, power, rhetoric, sardonic humour, and complexity of metaphor, Polynesian poetry is a match for any age of English verse. In a city one fifth Polynesian, why does the University of Auckland not have a department of Polynesian languages and literature, as it has departments of Romance and Scandinavian languages (Polynesian population of Auckland 126,000, Scandinavian population of Auckland 1,000)? Why has a collection of Polynesian poetry been published by a University Press without Polynesian texts? The underlying assumptions are disturbing.

Si'ete ongo'i tu'unga fale
Hungaluopea he 'one'one
Pa'angangalu he tuenoa
Kae 'alu pē 'o fakakuonga.
We are sensible of being an empty house-site
A strand strewn with driftwood and debris
Destitute, like the waves breaking endlessly on the reef
Each era passes in its own style.
Filianga [1959]
  • BOTT, Elizabeth, 1982. Tongan Society at the Time of Captain Cook's Visits. Wellington, Polynesian Society.
  • COLLOCOTT, E. E. V., 1928. Tales and Poems of Tonga. Honolulu, Bishop Museum Press.
  • FILIANGA, Sioeli, [1959]. “Matafi 'a e Tonga 'i Fale”. Faikava No.4, 1979. Nuku'alofa, Government Printer.
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TURNER, George: Samoa: A Hundred Years Ago and Long Before, together with Notes on the Cults and Customs of Twenty-Three Other Islands in the Pacific. Papakura, N.Z., R. McMillan, 1983 (facsimile of 1884 edition). xxii, 395 pp., plates, maps. Price $39.00.

Cluny Macpherson University of Auckland

George Turner was born in 1818 and brought up in the Presbyterian Church. He attended Glasgow University and the Relief Divinity Hall (Paisley) before commencing missionary work in the Pacific, at the age of 23. He served the London Missionary Society in Upolu in 1841-42, and in Tana 1842-43, before returning to Upolu in 1843 and remaining in the Samoas until 1882. Turner wrote several important works on Samoa, the first of which, Nineteen Years in Polynesia, (1861) spoke of the introduction of Christianity into Samoa in 1830, and described the nature and results of missionary work in subsequent years. That work consisted principally of edited notes on Samoan life, which he had earlier published privately, and on missionary life and was widely regarded as an authoritative source of material on Samoa.

The demand for information generated by missionaries and the infant science of ethnography led Turner to write this second text, Samoa, of which he says,

In the present volume I go back to the other ages and give the results of my archaeological researches for upwards of forty years. We are often told that facts rather than theories are wanted. I have confined myself exclusively to facts and leave it to specialists to tabulate and arrange them on the side of whatever theories they fairly tend to suggest. To what extent I have succeeded in aiding the studies of the comparative ethnologist, or in helping the solution of problems yet perplexing to the physiologist, historian and theologian I leave it to my readers to decide (p.vii).

Turner then proceeds to set out in some detail an account of early Samoan society. The account contains information on the geography of Samoa; extensive material on pre-contact religious institutions and practices; the Samoan life cycle; social life; material culture; political organisation and mythology. In each, considerable detail is provided and in such areas as material culture the reader benefits from Turner's eye for detail.

Turner avoided theorising about institutions and events which he described and avoided the amateur anthropology which characterised, and marred, numerous missionary accounts of early life in Oceania. In discussions of aspects of Samoan culture, Turner's familiarity with the dialectic nature of Samoan society becomes apparent as he sets out numerous versions of a particular myth without attempting to establish which is the “correct” version. While Turner outlined realities as they existed, others distorted those realities in a search for consistency; others sought out and highlighted the most macabre facets of culture to justify the importance of their mission; while still others ignored detail in the belief that no - 571 good would come of disseminating the misguided beliefs of the “heathen”. While Turner passed critical comment on certain aspects of Samoan society, he also drew parallels between Samoan and English societies which makes this amongst the most interesting and credible accounts of Samoan life.

Samoa will be of interest to both specialist and lay readers. It will be of particular interest to those seeking background material on the debate which has emerged over the nature of Samoan society following the recent publication of Derek Freeman's critique of Margaret Mead's Coming of Age in Samoa. Turner's account of Samoa provides a valuable insight into the society which the other accounts address and might usefully be read before attempting to unravel the later arguments. Samoans wishing to understand some of the esoteric allusions embedded in formal oratory will find at least some of the answers in a highly readable form in this book. It must have an important place on the shelves of all those with an interest in early Samoa.

Its publication marks the second venture of McMillan Publishers and an important addition to the ranks of specialist publishers. McMillan plans to reprint limited editions of selected classical works on Samoa in an attempt to make these more widely available. Those who have travelled great distances to glass cases to use such works will welcome the McMillan venture. The first, a reprinting of Augustin Kramer's Die Samoa Inseln, was very successful and made possible the reprinting of Turner, J. B. Stair's Old Samoa or Flotsam and Jetsam from the Pacific Ocean (1897) and the Cyclopedia of Samoa, Tonga, Tahiti and the Cook Islands (1907). A translation of Erich Scheurmann's A Picture Study of Old Samoa (1926) is to appear early in 1984. The careful selection of titles and the quality of the editions which have appeared to date will undoubtedly commend this series to those interested in the Pacific in general and Samoa in particular.

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