Volume 95 1986 > Volume 95, No. 4 > Reviews, p 499-542
BRANDEWIE, Ernest: Contrast and Context in New Guinea Culture: The Case of the Mbowamb of the Central Highlands. Studia Instituti Anthropos Vol.39. St. Augustin, West Germany, Anthropos Institute, 1981. 216 pp., figs. tables, maps, plates. Price US$12.50 (paper).
Nancy Bowers University of Auckland
It is good to see the results of Dr Brandewie's research in the Mt Hagen area of Papua New Guinea in book form. He has previously published a number of interesting articles on several aspects of Mbowamb life — from card games to illness, kinship and exchange.
The Mbowamb or Melepa people — often known as Hageners by the people themselves — live in the far western end of the Wahgi valley and beyond. Brandewie began his field work in 1963 and visited the area again in 1968. He has aimed for a general treatment, but wished to stress “emic” description (p.37) and to conclude chapters or groups of chapters with a brief comparative discussion (p.19). The final chapter sets out a series of “dynamic oppositions” in Kumdi Engamoi culture and society.
The strength of the book, as in so many ethnographies, lies in his actual descriptions rather than in analysis. For example, his account of a spirit medium's activity (pp.179–80), or more specifically, a quarrel between two men (pp.154–6) with some of the actual conversations recorded. Another example: an extensive description of the events surrounding a particular wedding (Chapter 6), including the distribution of bridewealth.
Readers will find the “daily routine” interesting, the physical description and sketch of some Kumdi settlements, the kinship material, and the account of internal segmentation within the Kumdi group.
One could quibble about details — for example, ip kota (p.34) probably refers to European-introduced salt rather than to salt prepared from Enga salt pools. One could list typographical errors, or errors that slipped through the proof-reading process — there are several in the bibliography.
The book was published nearly 20 years after the initial field work and must be evaluated in this context. Pertinent factors include: changes in the Mt Hagen area and in the whole country since the 1960s — and how change is handled in the book; shifts in theoretical orientations in social anthropology over two decades; and the significance of others' writings about the Hagen area for this book.- 500
I shall deal with the last of these first. Ethnographic accounts by Michael Leahy and by the early Catholic (Father Ross) and Lutheran (Vicedom, Strauss) missionaries formed a basis for the history of contact material and perhaps a foundation for the social descriptions too. More significant is the voluminous work of Marilyn Strathern and Andrew Strathern. The Stratherns' field work began almost simultaneously with Brandewie's yet the course of their professional lives — particularly for Andrew Strathern — has enabled each to spend many years with Hageners. Their professions have also meant that they continually keep their theoretical interpretations current; in fact, both the Stratherns' contributions to contemporary social anthropology theory have been massive. Their ethnographic writings show their long and close familiarity with Hagen society over the years. They have been in close touch with the transformations in Papua New Guinea. The Stratherns' work must indeed have been a hard act to follow. Brandewie does not attempt to deal with theoretical questions that the Stratherns have raised, nor does he discuss regional differences within the general Hagen area. He does, however, mention the Stratherns' work and provides a valuable bibliography containing many of their writings up to 1979.
The theoretical points that Brandewie brings up have a 1960s flavour. For example, the “emic” mode of description to which he claims adherence is untheorised, except by reference to Lévi-Strauss. Descent theory is said to make “more sense” than alliance theory in the case of the Mbowamb, although the two theories are complementary and “the alliance theory approach” also “should be applied” (p.133). Neither assertion is demonstrated. The reviewer assumes that Brandewie now feels dissatisfied with the kinds of questions social anthropologists in the 60s were asking of Papua New Guinea materials — but not to the point where he purges the manuscript of their presence.
An annoying feature of the book is the constant use of the ethnographic present. Social life of 1964 in Hagen is thus frozen. Kiaps, “the Australian government”, and bosbois are political factors (p.157); police-boys (sic) are agents of change (p.35) and “even today” Europeans import gold-lip pearlshells to sell in trade stores (p.35). Tribal warfare no longer exists (p.197). Nowhere does Brandewie say that Papua New Guinea has been independent since 1975; Map 1 is long out of date.
The book ends on a note of change — but again, seen from a mid-60s viewpoint. Nontraditional phenomena, too, are not profoundly analysed — for example, the emergence of passenger meris (prostitutes) is attributed to breakdown in group social control and to ease of road transport (p.199).
Brandewie must have anticipated the sorts of criticisms made in this review. A more reflective introduction — beyond the predictable participant observation or “Why I Went to the Highlands” remarks — would have anticipated comments such as mine. The author was not prepared to update the theoretical treatment nor to think over the ethnography-writing process. His easiest course would have been simply not to publish the book. We must congratulate the author for his courage. As an ethnography, the monograph is not without merit. And it stands as a curious historical document for Hageners and anthropologists alike.- 501
CRAIG, Robert D. and Frank P. King (eds): Historical Dictionary of Oceania. Westport, Connecticut, Greenwood Press, 1981. xxxv, 392pp., maps, appendices, bibliographies, indexes, list of contributors, Price US$55.00.
Peter Gathercole Darwin College, Cambridge
The scope of this book is not easy to characterise. The publisher's flyer says that it “gathers together a range of information never before available in one volume”. In his wide-ranging but postcontact biased introduction, the late and much respected historian, C. Harley Grattan, must have disconcerted the editors with his claim that
this book's valiant effort to ‘cover’ the Pacific Islands as comprehensively as seems wise today is bound to be ‘uneven’ (a cant word of reviewers) and sure to be convicted of factual errors which the editors will see as nitpicking and the critics as demonstrations of their own superior expertise. But, with all the risks, the job was worth attempting, for somebody, somewhere, will be stimulated to correct the errors and fill the gaps (p.xxxiii).
Faced with a such a backhander as this (“valiant effort”, indeed!), critical comment, of any variety, including those of canting, nit-picking or other forms of superior expertise, would appear to be superfluous. Who, anyway, would claim to be proficient in enough fields of knowledge to “correct the errors”, etc.? A less olympian approach seems more appropriate, with a list of suggested corrections sent privately to the editors if they so desire.
However uncertain their policy might have been on what to include (and perhaps they were governed partly by those who actually submitted contributions), the editors should be congratulated for their courage. With, on my count, 104 other contributors, about half from the United States, including a fair sprinkling from the Hawaii Campus of Brigham Young University, they have assembled a useful compendium of selected and alphabetically arranged historical facts. There are over 450 entries, each listing related entries, and sources and readings. In addition, there are seven appendices, a general select bibliography, name and subject indexes, and a list of contributors. The appendices comprise: a summary political guide for 1980–1981, a historical chronology from A.D. 1500, a brief chronology of prehistoric settlements (after Bellwood), a chronology of European exploration up to 1817, a list of rulers and administrators (not all of whom are discussed in the text), a list of individuals, who are discussed, giving their occupations, and a list of Island names with variant and obsolete spellings. At the front of the book each entry is listed (and therefore - 502 replicated in either of the indexes); here also there are 19 maps. The latter are political, not physical, in form, and tell us little.
The book's coverage is certainly wide, if eclectic—for example, islands and groups, political and other histories, leaders (indigenous and expatriate), missionaries, travellers, beachcombers, artists and scholars. Topics are equally broad-ranging; a random selection includes alcoholism, blackbirding, cargo cults, colonialism (rather than imperialism, except “Tongan imperialism in Fiji”), religions — both indigenous and imported, education of all grades, trade in primary products, the manifold interests of the colonial powers, the Southwest Pacific air route (which, rather oddly, comes up three times), the South Pacific Commission, and stick charts.
Some contributions are very good. I liked especially the essay on Austronesian languages by Andrew Pawley, several of the entries on Australian interests in the Pacific, one on U.S. military life on Bora Bora during the Second World War (disease, fatigue, boredom — those eternal enemies), a depressing one on defence planning — or lack of it — between 1919 and 1939, and numerous items on the history and present strategic and constitutional positions of the new nations of Micronesia vis-à-vis the United States, from which the latter does not emerge with overmuch credit. There are also some good individual biographies. I learned much from the book, both from what was said, and not said.
Nevertheless, though ever mindful of Harley Grattan's strictures on nitpicking, etc., reference must be made to the work's general characteristics. It emphasises documentary history. True, there are entries on the settlement of Polynesia, Lapita Culture, and on what is quaintly termed Polynesian Culture (Ancient). True, also, that islands and groups often have paragraphs on their individual precontact cultures. There is a disturbing entry on Hawaiian music, where the indigenous component is described as “a primitive folk music which has preserved its identity through an overwhelming foreign contact and highly compressed acculturation” (p.131) — surely, in the light of recent scholarship, too simplistic a formulation? Overall, however, no firm delineation is given of the nature of traditional Oceanic societies, of their highly individual brilliancies, or of the various forms of today's cultural renaissance, e.g. the Festivals of the Arts, or of the burgeoning of creative writing. Thus, the entry in the index for “Art in Oceania” reads as follows: “See Gauguin, Paul; Hawaiian music; Melville, Herman; Polynesian Cultural Center; Stevenson, Robert Louis”. The item on Tongan oral culture (pp. 294–5), for example, is not listed under this entry. Indigenous Melanesia and Micronesia fare even more poorly. In the long entry on Papua New Guinea, for instance, the rich and wide range of historical and contemporary art styles is never referred to.
Here one might mention, incidentally, that anthropologists (let alone other scholars) receive idiosyncratic treatment. Included are Codrington, Englert, Krämer, Kubary, Leenhardt, Margaret Mead, Alfred Métraux, Roheim, Semper and Te Rangi Hiroa, but not, for example, Bateson, Ernest Beaglehole, Burrows, Fortune, Haddon, Handy, Linton or Skinner.- 503
Having arrived at New Zealand, so to speak, via Skinner, the country itself comes off a good deal worse than (say) Australia in the treatment accorded to its relation to Oceania. Anyone would imagine that New Zealand lacked specific political aspirations in the islands in either the last century or this, while postcontact Maori history hardly appears at all. Even the entry on that distinguished Pakeha, J. C. Beaglehole, lacks mention of his work for civil liberties and other social causes, to say nothing of the award of the Order of Merit, the first to a resident New Zealander, there being only 24 within the Commonwealth at any one time.
This brings me to the subject of higher education and research. It is good to have entries on, for example, the Micronesian Area Research Center, the Institute for Pacific Studies, and the Universities of Guam, and of the South Pacific. But Pacific science is not examined as such, and there is only passing mention of the Universities of Papua New Guinea and of Hawaii (though the Bernice P. Bishop Museum receives a somewhat eulogistic entry). Nothing is said of the very considerable contribution made, particularly by scholarships and research grants, over many years by universities in Australia and New Zealand. By contrast, there are quite detailed entries on the Hawaii Campus of Brigham Young University and its Institute for Polynesian Studies. The closely and institutionally associated Polynesian Cultural Center also has its own entry, including the following statement, which, to any visitor possessing some understanding of the tragic histories of many Polynesian cultures, is a masterly gloss on those histories:
The evening show, ‘Invitation to Paradise’, is staged in a 2,750-seat amphitheater. The center also has a curio shop, a large restaurant, and various snack areas. The center attributes its success to the knowledge, talent, and enthusiasm of its employees who come from all over the Pacific and who enable visitors to fully experience the rich and vibrant cultures of Polynesia (p.241).
Thus does academia bow to tourism.
Sometimes I fear for the future of the peoples of the Pacific. Ever since Cook, they have been regarded by white outsiders intellectually as objects of curiosity, economically and politically as ever rich for exploitation. Every now and again, despite the political and ideological changes now sweeping through Oceania, such anachronistic attitudes emerge in this book. For example, the tribulations endured by the Banabans in their battles for compensation from the British Government over the mining of phosphate are ignored. The entry on the construction of the French Pacific Nuclear Test Center in 1966 stresses that it “provided the single largest impetus in transforming French Polynesia into an international marketplace” (p.98) — though there is also a brief entry on Moruroa Atoll itself, which does mention the resulting “worldwide protest” to the French tests (p.197). In the entry on the Marshall Islands, there is this single laconic sentence on this subject: “In the 1950s, Bikini and Eniwetok became test sites for - 504 American thermonuclear devices” (p.174), and elsewhere there is equally terse mention of the Islanders' movements to new homes (under “Migration Trends”, p.190). How even-handed, as much as open-ended, can such writing on the Pacific become? What we all need to sharpen is our sense (in large measure a moral one) not of history, but of historiography.
DUBOIS, Marie-Joseph: Gens de Maré: Ethnologie de l'île Maré, Iles Loyauté, Nouvelle-Calédonie. Paris, Editions anthropos, 1984. 376pp., illus, n.p.
Loïc J. D. Wacquant University of Chicago
Given the dramatic upsurge of Kanak nationalism in New Caledonia and the significance of the “custom” (la coutume) in the ideological idiom of the independentist movement, the publication of a book purporting to describe the “traditions” of a Kanak community is bound to attract a good deal of attention and to evoke controversy, political as well as academic. Marie-Joseph Dubois, however, did not await the ethnic confrontation that marred the November 1984 territorial elections and the ensuing socio-political crisis in order to study the Melanesians of this entrenched French colony. Unlike a host of recent authors whose “discovery” of the latter dates no farther back than these events, Dubois' involvement with Kanak culture has been a lifelong one. He came to New Caledonia as a Marist missionary in the late 1930s, at age 25, and eventually stayed on the island for some three decades. Most of this time was spent in Maré, one of the Loyalty Islands, where he lived among the native population, learned their language, collected their oral traditions and investigated their social and mythical organisation. People of Maré is the product of this experience.
In pulling together a variety of material on Maré society from his prior publications (an annotated bibliography of more than 70 titles is appended to the text) and from little-known missionary documents, Dubois aims at offering “a study in ethno-history, but with a special focus on the customs of the pre-European period” (p.8). The organisation of the account is as follows. After brief indications of sources, geography, demography, and linguistics (Chapter 1), Dubois depicts the early lifecycle of the individual, from conception to youth (Chapter 2). He reports on the ritual and pragmatic observances that surround birth as well as on child-rearing and adoption patterns; he discusses puberty rites, courtship mores and the complex name-giving strategies that establish social identity within Maré communities. He then considers marriage, which marks the transition to adulthood, and the traditional kinship structure (Chapter 3). The bulk of the monograph (Chapters 4 to 10) is devoted to a painstaking examination of the material culture of the Maré — clothing and ornamentation, dwellings, food and - 505 cooking, and various basic techniques from fishing to tool-making to art. In the last part, Dubois returns to the social organisation; he describes the field of the chiefdom and its agents, the system of land tenure and traditional warfare relations. The volume ends with an exploration of Maré conceptions of illness, death, and afterdeath, in which the author attempts to outline the main tenets of “Maré metaphysics,” i.e., the categories and beliefs in terms of which the Kanaks of the precolonial era conceived of a synthesis between mythology and witchcraft.
The value of the book lies squarely in the extraordinary wealth of empirical material it makes available to linguists, anthropologists and sociologists. In this regard, it is a most welcome addition to the still limited, if fast growing, literature on the Melanesians of New Caledonia. Almost every aspect of Maré social life is described in fine-grain detail, with the pene Nengone terminology and appropriate translations fully provided; relevant myths and tales are often given alongside, so that the reader gets a well-rounded picture not only of the objective practices, but also of their symbolic framing. This will be of particular interest to students of Pacific culture who work within a comparative perspective and look for punctual information on given institutions. Using Dubois' descriptions, it is possible, for instance, to get a better grasp of the cultural continuities and variations between the Kanaks of the main island and those of the Loyalty archipelago. The chapters on material culture are certainly the best on this count, particularly those on huts, foods, and fishing techniques, which display the full range and complexity of adaptation strategies developed by the people of Maré. The sections on ethnomedicine and pharmacopoeia (pp.263–78) are also remarkable for the quality of the taxonomic data they offer.
Yet, for all its empirical richness, Gens de Maré falls well short of fulfilling its promise. Although the title of Dubois' work is clearly meant to evoke Maurice Leenhardt's Gens de la grande terre (Paris, Gallimard, 1937 and 1953), it fails to meet the standards of ethnographic rigour set by this classic of Kanak anthropology. This is partly a matter of exposition: the strictly linear organisation of the material leads to a great deal of redundancy at the same time that it makes much of the book read like a mere patchwork enumeration of disconnected sets of social and cultural practices. More fundamentally, this is due to the fact that Dubois never goes beyond sheer description. Nowhere does he begin to adumbrate, let alone develop, an overarching framework within which his wide-ranging observations might come together and yield a synthetic vision of the structure and functioning of Maré society. Indeed, his analytic descriptivism would seem to preclude the very possibility of an understanding of Kanak sociocultural patterns as elements of a totality.
Dubois' raw empiricism and naive approach to ethnography (“I got the best possible training in ethnology, that given by the natives living their traditions,” p.8) will surprise even the least theoretically inclined readers — not to mention his questionable moral evaluation of several of the institutions he describes. Those expecting an “ethno-history” of Maré culture will likewise be disappointed, for the historical dimension is strikingly absent from the book. Except in those passages where Dubois quotes at great length from the missionary accounts by - 506 Father Beaulieu and then contrasts them with his own observations some 20 to 50 years later (e.g., pp.75–82), it is seldom possible to situate the practices he depicts in time, other than in some vague precolonial past which itself seems to be devoid of historicity. Further, Dubois does not consistently differentiate between facts ascertained by him during his sojourn in the Loyalty Islands and information obtained through native informants or handed down by the oral tradition.
There is yet an even more serious problem with Gens de Maré which never seems to occur to the author: it is that his penetration of the social and symbolic organisation of the Maré must have been strongly affected by his location within this organisation — as missionary. Dubois writes: “In 25 years, people are forced to show themselves as they are [au naturel]. The investigator ends up being part of the system to be observed” (p.10). But this system in which Dubois participated was a system of colonial relations. This should have induced him to bring to the fore of his account the role of the Marist mission in the historical transformation of Maré culture, and to reflect on how his own identity and position as spokesperson of a foreign institution and ideology limited or distorted his perception of Kanak society. The author is strangely mute about this and the articulation of the communities of Maré to the colonial structure which emerges over much of the period explicitly covered by this study.
In fine, this is a valuable source of primary data on “traditional” Maré society, but one which suffers greatly from a lack of theoretical and historical concern, and which should thus be read and used with great precaution.
DUTTON, Tom: The Hiri in History: Further Aspects of Long Distance Motu Trade in Central Papua. Pacific Research Monograph Number Eight. Canberra, Australian National University, 1982. xv, 159pp., figs, tables, plates. Price A$12.00.
Geoffrey Irwin Australian National University
At the time of European settlement Port Moresby was a centre of active trade which involved the Motu, their neighbours and groups far away along the coast in both directions. The most spectacular part of this network was known as the hiri, a seasonal voyage to the Gulf of Papua which took place in some years but not others. A fleet of canoes would leave carrying shell valuables and many thousands of pots and return a few months later with canoe logs and hundreds of tons of sago. It is easy to see this trade as important economically but it was so socially as well.
Michael Young (1983) has said that the Massim (and one could expand this to include much of Papua) became to British anthropology what the Mediterranean - 507 had been to European philosophy, and professional ethnography began with a distinguished line of scholars including Haddon, Seligman, Jenness, Malinowski, Armstrong and Fortune. It was a paper by Barton in Seligman's monumental Melanesians of British New Guinea (1910) which helped put the hiri on the map. These early and brilliant works became classics which quickly embarked on anthropological lives of their own, often out of context and without history. Among the more romantic elements were some elaborate systems of sea-borne exchange whose participants became argonauts to Malinowski and merchant venturers to Seligman. Especially in the Massim, a new generation of ethnographers has looked again at the old data and found them wanting. Firstly, there is evidence of more diversity in the different regions of the exchange systems than was formerly known. Further, there is plenty of evidence for interim change in addition to the possibility that important bits were left out in the first place, although it is not always clear how to distinguish the two. Some workers have taken the rather purist view that widespread exchange systems were artificially abstracted from a series of more legitimate local contexts and did not really exist at all. Others say that within any society Kula exchanges, for example, have been abstracted from a wider set of exchange relations and therefore were not a discrete mode of exchange as supposed.
The most recent archaeology is allowing these systems some kind of existence in prehistory but often only a brief one. Trading systems of sorts are certainly old in the area but evidently they were at least as fluid in their form and content before European contact as they have been since. One of the ironies of the situation is that there are cases where archaeologists have used an ethnohistoric framework to interpret prehistoric data which might have been used more suitably to dismantle it.
Although The Hiri in History was published in 1982, the recent and current research in anthropology and archaeology into trade systems of Papua New Guinea warrants this rather belated review. In his Introduction, Dutton notes that there are historical questions of unknown depth which can only be answered, if at all, by painstaking research from a number of disciplines. So here, nearly a century after the first descriptions, a linguist, an oral historian, a specialist in religious studies and three archaeologists have contributed to a book about the “real” history of the hiri. Perhaps it is a measure of the difficulty of the task that, where there is more than one expert in a field, they come into open conflict.
Oram's paper, really the centrepiece of the book, is based on ethnography and oral history and reconstructs the hiri as it was at contact, arguing for an economic base to its existence at that time. The Austronesian Motu were coastal people who lived largely by fishing, trading and gardening. They had close links with the non-Austronesian Koita, their rather more land-oriented neighbours, and also with the Koiari of the foothills of the Owen Stanley Range. Only villages of the Western Motu took part in the hiri. They were on bad terms with the Eastern Motu, who are reported as having had more food anyway. Between these two ethnographic populations lay Bootless Bay, possibly a no-man's-land at contact, but the scene of recent archaeological work. Quite how its prehistory relates to - 508 the ethnographic Motu, Eastern or Western, is a matter of some argument and confusion. Oram gives details of social aspects of the organisation of the hiri. Typically a fleet of Motu canoes would set sail for one of a number of known regions of the Papuan Gulf carrying quantities of armshells, other valuables and many thousands of the main trade item, simple unglazed clay pots made by the women in eight of the 10 Western villages. From their trading partners the Motu received hundreds of tons of sago and many canoe logs. Oram gives interesting details of trade and exchange relations and rates of exchange. On their return, the Western Motu apparently used up the sago surprisingly quickly in fairly conspicuous consumption and gifts to creditors. In spite of this, Oram makes a plausible case that, given the pattern of subsistence and settlement around Port Moresby, the main reason for the hiri was economic. Seasonal food shortages were common and oral and documentary sources show that the hiri was not held in years when local production was adequate. While Oram settles for this view he acknowledges other reasons for going such as maintaining links with trade partners, having a good time and winning prestige in internal competition among Motu men, all points stressed by other writers.
John Gwilliam's chapter is on religious aspects of the hiri. There is an initial short descriptive section followed by records of the interviews with two elderly Motu men, Seri Bodibo and Siaka Heni, who had extensive experience of hiri. These have a great immediacy and are filled with a range of interesting statements on religious and other practices, both on shore and in the canoes, which makes this chapter unlike any other in the book. We get a more human glimpse of the hiri and perhaps a more integrated one too.
Whereas much that has been written on the hiri is generalising and based on secondary sources, Dutton takes the view that, because there are no indigenous records, the prehistory of the hiri will need to be built up slowly by other means. His is emphatically a working paper in linguistics, not any rehash of old materials. It seems that contact between the Motu and their trade partners in the Gulf led to the development of two Hiri Trading Languages, each a variant of the non-Austronesian languages Elema and Koriki. Dutton explores Gulf languages looking for evidence of contact with the hiri, for borrowings from other languages and for evidence of trade. His methodology is explicit. Among his conclusions he notes that Motu was the main source of trade-related borrowing in the Gulf; that a major area of contact there was Elema, but this does not exclude other possibilities; that the time and place of first contact between the Motu and the Gulf is unknown. Further, he considers the possibility that there may have been some kind of prehistoric contact between the Motu and the Kairi, who live deeper in the Gulf than any historically documented trading.
Allen and Rye begin with the telling statement that archaeological contributions to the study of the hiri were, at the time of writing, virtually nonexistent. They then continue with a defence of a prior position taken by Allen but contested by Susan Bulmer. It should be noted at the outset that there has been no substantial excavation in any Western Motu village, the ones historically - 509 associated with the hiri. Both protagonists have excavated, in different parts of Port Moresby, sites which were abandoned in prehistory and which have no direct connection with ethnography. Across these discontinuities the authors have interpolated, between the ethnography, their respective data and theories on the prehistory of the hiri, even though it is plainly demonstrated in Papuan prehistory that there may be considerable functional variability between neighbouring sites.
To consider just a few details of this discussion: Allen and Rye argue that specialised manufacture and trade are of 1000 year's standing and that one can find traces of the antecedents of the Motu at Motupore (dug by Allen) in Bootless Bay, which is also the location of the site of Taurama (dug by Bulmer). Both sites have been identified traditionally as ancestral Motu villages. Allen considers a population build-up in Bootless Bay precipitated a move to the Western Motu area and an increase in the specialised trade that had already begun. For her part, Bulmer concludes that one does not need to look to Bootless Bay for the origins of the hiri, nor beyond 300 or 400 years in time, and that whether Motupore was a specialised community is still an open question. Clearly there is a need to reconcile these positions when all of the information is to hand. To secure Motupore's role as a specialised community Allen and Rye present a number of circumstantial arguments, the first of which is too oversubtle for this reviewer. Briefly, many of the hard items of trade would not be found in a trading centre having been traded elsewhere already. At the same time perishable items like food which would be received in exchange would usually leave no trace either. As it happens, there is no need to resort to such an argument at Motupure which is a site of remarkable richness. As just one instance, there is ample evidence for the manufacture of shell jewellery, including armshells and beads, the drill points used to make them and manufacturing waste. Moreover, the land fauna can be plausibly interpreted as evidence of trade.
Another argument is that the offshore island location of the small island of Motupore indicates an extreme maritime adaptation involving the use of canoes, enhanced defence, probable high population density and specialised manufacture and trade to supply necessary imports of food. In Papua, there are several ethnographic (but usually not archaeological) models for the argument. However, most of them are a poor fit. Unlike Mailu and Siassi, Motupore is an onshore island inside a sheltered bay with garden land nearby. This does not exclude the possibility that such a community traded specialist products like pottery with neighbours for its subsistence, but whether it was the only village to do so is another question. The proof would lie in attributing products to sources and also finding them in customer communities. This is what the second part of Allen and Rye's paper sets out to do, even though the theories of prehistoric trade had been several years in advance of the earnest attempt to do so.
The sourcing study described was an unusually sophisticated and clever one. Because Port Moresby pottery is made of tempered clay, it could not be expected to be identical to unfired clays. Potential source standards were set up as a number of mixes of clay and sand in varying proportions, the material being col- - 510 lected during a field survey. Thus, when a match occurred one would know both the composition and the source. The analysis was by PIXE, or, proton-induced X-ray emission, at the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, Lucas Heights. Of the pottery analysed from Motupore, some was of local source materials and most probably was made there. Sherds from two other major Port Moresby sources were found there as well, these being Taurama nearby and Boera some miles west. This work is continuing (Allen and Duerden 1982) and further results will be welcome.
In addition to debating these various issues, Bulmer's paper argues that aspects of Motu culture and site distribution are recent and, in so far as these related to the hiri, that could be late too. Using settlement evidence and ceramic chronology, she suggests the coastal focus and ecological precariousness of Western Motu settlement occurred just a few centuries ago and the Motu-style pottery did not make its appearance until about the same time. Two inland sites she excavated were abandoned with this development and these, like Taurama in Bootless Bay, had all exhibited generalised rather than specialised economies. Pottery had been made at Taurama and Nebira but, by ethographic times, was made at most of the Western Motu villages. Whether all of these conclusions are accepted remains to be seen.
Rhoads gives us a view from the Gulf. From his vantage point, at the receiving end of the system, he complains that many of the issues in the debate have been Port Moresby-centric. Bulmer believed that the settlement and ecological circumstances contingent on the hiri were not in place until the 17th century while Allen argued that specialist production and trade existed around Port Moresby for more like 1000 years. However, Rhoads makes it clear that exotic material, including pottery, was imported to the Gulf for most of an albeit fragmentary prehistory of nearly 2000 years. As yet the sources of most pots there are not precisely located, except that they must lie to the eastward in coastal Papua. However, while the bare facts of trade are demonstrated, their circumstances are very far from clear. Rhoads also gives an account of the cultural sequence, so far as it is known, for the Middle Kikori and the distribution there of imports, plus their possible sources. He then gives a brief review of discontinuities in the Papuan ceramic sequence and considers their relationship to settlement patterns and trade.
To summarise, it would be trite to say that The Hiri in History raises more questions than it answers. It would be more correct to say that it reveals an interesting interplay between preconceptions and evidence. There are many loose threads in the work and cross purposes among the workers. This is a book full of possibilities, uncertainties and controversies. Yet it is also a book with many strengths. The topic itself is a fascinating one and there is a great deal of expertise in these papers. The book is about prehistory in the making and is just as interesting for what it shows of how prehistorians work as in the conclusions they finally come to. We have not heard the last word about the hiri.- 511
GORDON, Robert J. and MEGGITT, Mervyn J.:Law and Order in the New Guinea Highlands: Encounters with Enga. Hanover, University Press of New England for the University of Vermont, 1985. 283pp., maps, tables, index. Price US$42.00 (cloth).
Louise Morauta University of Papua New Guinea
The authors describe this book as “an ethnographic analysis of the widely publicized ‘breakdown of law and order’ in the Enga Province in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea”. It gives an account of the law and order situation in Enga, a history of Government activity in the province, Government responses to law and order problems, community and local-level politics in Enga and policy options available to Government. The main focus is on the relationship between Enga and the state. The authors' recommendations are for a “populist grassroots approach” based largely on the village court system.
Although written by anthropologists and described by them as an ethnography, the book is important because of its macro approach to issues and structures in Papua New Guinea. Its strength lies in the way it attempts to link a discussion of “the national administrative society and culture” with an analysis of grass-roots data, and the detailed attempt to trace out how state and people impinge on each other.
To date, social analysis in Papua New Guinea has largely been either at the national level (with almost no feel for the micro situation) or at the very local level (with minimal recognition of the wider environment). This book is a refreshing attempt to bring both approaches to bear on a particular issue.
Of course, this is a more difficult task than using either of the two approaches alone. It requires more intellectual versatility and an amazing amount of data of different kinds. On the whole I would say the authors do all right on the intellectual versatility. The book ranges widely over the theoretical literature and brings many different kinds of approach to bear on the central problem.- 512
However, Gordon and Meggitt have, in my view, more mixed success in assembling their data. It is a tough assignment, and in parts they do very well. The questionnaire survey of 106 kiaps is valuable, although we could do with a little more information on methodology. The analysis of court records and outcomes and the information on local-level government are satisfactory. But the history of legal and political development is scrappy and relies heavily on a few sources, and the account of Enga communities in the 1980s appears anecdotal. Points about Enga views on the state and current affairs are important for the central argument but seem to be derived from very casual field work. The up-to-date ethnography, or rather, its absence, is the weakness of this study, regarded by its authors as an ethnography (presumably in some different sense).
Make no mistake. Their enterprise is a worthwhile one. But the authors should have been more cautious about their data and discussed more fully the methodological problems that arise from their wide-ranging approach.
In their analysis in general I find few problems. However, I would have liked to see more thought given to the difference between tribal fighting and other summary offences and offences under the Criminal Code in Enga. A study conducted by Wormsley and Toke in Enga, also in the 1980s, found that Engans were as much concerned about theft, assault, rape and other offences as they were with tribal fighting (Wormsley and Toke 1985). This aspect is rather neglected by Gordon and Meggitt.
The authors feel (rightly in my view) that the social scientist should not draw back from making recommendations and discussing the policy implications of his work. But he must also consider how he will communicate such views. The style of this book (numerous theoretical references, intra-disciplinary squabbles, heavy footnoting, and abstract language) makes it unreadable for the average Papua New Guinean policy-maker. It is also long (at 283 pages) and expensive, costing K43.95 in Port Moresby bookshops.
There are some structural and technical problems with the book. It gives the impression of being assembled in a hurry from a number of independent parts —there is almost verbatim repetition of whole paragraphs in several places (e.g., pp.50 and 164, 54 and 176, and 59 and 179). The argument is exciting page by page but hard to follow through the book as a whole, and there are a distressingly large number of typos for an academic press. These are minor points but there is a danger that they may detract from credibility in a study where the reliability of data is of great importance.
MARQUARDT, Karl:The Tattooing of Both Sexes in Samoa. Translated by Sibyl Ferner. Papakura, New Zealand, R. McMillan, 1984. 85pp., plates. Price $63.00 (cloth).
Bradd Shore Emory University
Why did Polynesians tattoo themselves? More to the point, why would people subject themselves to months of excruciating pain and the dangers of infection and possible death in order to have hammered into their flesh elaborate geometrical motifs? After generations of scholars have studied Polynesian tattooing, we still don't have a clue. Or do we?
The reissuing of Karl Marquardt's 1899 study of Samoan tattooing with an accompanying English translation does not shed much light on the problem. But the book's beautiful, detailed illustrations and photographs of tattoos and specific motifs provoke both wonder and curiosity about the institution that produced them.
According to the great Augustin Krämer, Marquardt's work relied heavily on the 1897 study of Samoan tattooing carried out by von Luschan (Beitrag zur Kenntnis der Tätowirung in Samoa). While Marquardt himself laments von Luschan's lack of first-hand experience in Samoa, and his reliance on a troupe of visiting young Samoan performers in Berlin for his information, Kraämer suggests:
Mr Karl Marquardt, the brother of the director of the company of Samoans, could add nothing essential to [von Luschan's] text beyond a few improvements in words and meanings (Krämer 1930:2:116).
Without access to von Luschan's volume, it is hard to evaluate what Marquardt's own contribution was to this study.
In light of later scholarship on Samoan tattooing, this volume has little more than historical interest. Buck's 1930 study provides considerably more detail about tattooing technique (Buck 1930), while Krämer's speculations about the functions and significance of the institution are more interesting. Marquardt dismisses any suggestion that Samoan tattooing has any significance beyond a customary way of satisfying the vanity which he finds characteristic of “native peoples” (p.16). The function of tattooing is thus purely decorative, an opinion that seems to be shared by the majority of scholars on the subject. The purely formal nature of the tattooing motifs, and the absence of any totemistic representation are taken as evidence that tattooing bears no important religious or political significance.
Yet a closer reading of the literature on Samoan tattooing, including Marquardt's own text, suggests otherwise. Marquardt notes the significance of the - 514 timing of tattooing, close to the onset of adult sexuality, and concludes that Samoan tattooing enhances sexual attractiveness and sexual access (p.17). Furthermore, he recognises the link with social and political status: the special importance of tattooing for chiefs, and their sons, and the difference in quality of the tattoos between nobles and commoners (p.8, p.10; p.19). The often-noted interpretation of tattooing as a kind of “permanent clothing” is also mentioned by Marquardt, though without further comment.
More interesting still is the fact, noted in the text, that the completion of the tattooing was traditionally marked by a lulu'u rite, “the solemn sprinkling of all newly tattooed with the milk of the coconut called niuui by a tufuga” (p.12). The apparent desacrilisation of the newly tattooed youth, with special ritual attention on the sons of chiefs, suggests the insufficiency of the commonsense understanding of Polynesian tattooing that has long prevailed.
A rereading of the early descriptions of Samoan tattooing illuminates new possibilities. One cannot simply dismiss, for instance, the speculations of sociobiologists, for whom the tattooing institution would suggest an interesting bias in favour of the reproductive success of those of rank. My own biases lead elsewhere. Marquardt reproduces a truncated version of the very interesting tattooing chant that accompanied the operation. In it, the tattoo is compared to the tī leaves of the Samoan kilt, though superior in that, unlike necklaces or leaves, a tattoo is indestructible. Moreover, in a section omitted by Marquardt, the chant equates the pain of the male undergoing tattooing with that of the parturating woman, whose job is to tupu (grow, fecundate).
Then there is the tattoo itself. Though little light has been shed on the significance of the various motif names, it is interesting to note that a dominant wrapping or binding motif is present in both male and female tattoos in the form of a prominent band called fusi, which translates as belt or binding. In this context it is noteworthy that Krämer produces a Samoan account of the tattooing process in which the novice approaches the tattooing house bound in layers of 5–10 fine mats (Krämer op. cit.:124–5, 127, 128).
While Krämer shares Marquardt's skepticism about religious implications of Samoan tattooing, he provides some fascinating evidence to the contrary. Thus, he argues that all his Samoan informants suggested that tattooing was done as teu, which Krämer translates as “decoration” (ibid.:115), but which also means “to put in order”. This is consistent with Krämer's speculations on the origin of the term tatau (tattoo) as “correct”:
It is used for something that is brought into order, that is brought to the perpendicular or the horizontal, thus one says when the yards of a boat have to be squared and they stand true: 'ua tatau (ibid.:112).
It is conceivable that the tattooing institution in Polynesia was linked with other Polynesian institutions that rendered persons and objects sacred through - 515 ritually binding and redirecting generative potency, and by the ritual imposition of formal order. Such a view would link tattooing to Hawaiian rites of house-binding, to the ritual wrapping of a chief's genitals in his malo (girdle), to the ritualised circuits made by conquering chiefs and by sacred maidens throughout Polynesia, and to the binding of girls both literally and metaphorically in parts of Western Polynesia in the interest of ordering and channelling mana (see Shore, forthcoming).
Whatever the answers turn out to be to the riddle of Polynesian tattooing, the issuing of a translation of Marquardt's work occasions renewed speculation. We can no longer simply take the commonsense significance of Polynesian tattooing for granted.
MARSHALL, Leslie B. (ed.): Infant Care and Feeding in the South Pacific. Food and Nutrition in History and Anthropology, Vol.3. New York, Gordon and Beach, 1985. xxii + 355pp., maps, figs, index. Price US$58.00 (cloth)
Anne Chambers University of Auckland
This well-produced book documents infant feeding and child care practices in 15 South Pacific communities, relating the way infants are fed and nurtured to local assumptions about their needs and growth patterns, family structure and residence, women's subsistence responsibilities, food availability and the factors that are perceived to threaten infant well-being. This is a realm of human activity that is bio-cultural. While such physiological processes as lactation, digestion and growth share universal similarities, they are managed and culturally elaborated within the context of a specific socio-economic milieu. The fascination of the case studies contained in this book is the cultural diversity they document. It is clear that, even in societies where relatively prolonged breast feeding is the norm, women use a variety of strategies to balance their infants' needs for close contact with their own subsistence and social obligations.- 516
The core of the volume consists of 15 ethnographic accounts of infant care practices in particular communities. Two thirds of these case studies are from Papua New Guinea but the Solomon Islands, Fiji and Western Samoa are also represented. Twelve of the papers were previously published in the journal Ecology of Food and Nutrition. The book also contains four “commentaries” which analyse the theoretical and practical issues implicit in the case studies, from both anthropological and medical perspectives.
The ethnographic chapters present a wealth of information. Most include coverage of such topics as breast feeding practices, food prohibitions, supplementary infant foods, weaning practices, wet nursing, child spacing, child care patterns and women's other work responsibilities. Against this background, the social, economic or health factors important in each community are also analysed, giving each contribution its own particular focus. Several themes surface repeatedly throughout the case studies, however, and provide a unifying focus for the volume.
One of these themes is the health and nutritional implications of infant feeding patterns. For example, the article co-authored by Carol Jenkins, Alison Orr-Ewing and Peter Heywood documents Amele infants' pattern of “growth faltering” after four months of age, relating statistical evidence of low rates of growth to local concepts of development and to feeding practices. Because Amele believe that breastmilk increases in nutritional value as the child ages and that liquid foods suit infants, little solid food of high nutritional value is offered to children between 4 and 12 months. A parallel case is presented by Maria Lepowsky for Vanatinai, an island community with apparently high rates of child malnutrition and yet seemingly abundant food resources. Lepowsky hypothesises that the protein taboo that prohibits many key protein foods to children may be a positive adaptation to endemic malaria, since moderate under-nutrition appears to provide increased resistance to malaria attacks. Leslie Conton's study from a third Papua New Guinea community, one in the Usino area, also identifies some of the social, economic and ecological variables that provide a context for infant feeding practices, particularly for decisions about weaning. Insufficient lactation is reported as a common problem among Usino women, who perceive themselves as only marginally healthy. By contrast, Susan Montague's paper discusses a situation in a Trobriand village where children's typical low weight-for-age may not correlate with major health and nutrition problems. Montague stresses that dietary conventions may bias initial interviews on infant feeding and that actual practices may differ substantially from the ideals reported. These Trobriand parents value muscular rather than plump toddlers and see inadequate access to emergency medical care, not inadequate nutrition, as the most important threat to child health in their community.
Another main theme which runs through the book concerns the decision-making inherent in infant care and feeding, particularly parents' efforts to choose between opposed benefits and obligations. Mothers who have heavy subsistence responsibilities are a case in point. Leslie Marshall's study describes the compromise feeding practices used by mothers in Port Moresby who worked full time - 517 as public health nurses. These women relied more heavily on supplemental milk feeding than did other mothers in this urban area but, probably because of Papua New Guinea's campaign to discourage bottle feeding, had a higher rate and duration of breast feeding than did wage-employed urban women in other developing countries. Bonnie Nardi's study of Western Samoan village women focuses on the heavy social and economic responsibilities which require mothers' attention. Nardi sees women's increasing participation in the cash economy as responsible for the decline in age of weaning. In Kadavu, Fiji, however, Mary Katz found that the duration of breast feeding correlated most clearly with father's age, while mothers whose consanguineal kin resided in the same village tended to end breast feeding sooner than those without, presumably because the mother and child had access to a more secure food supply.
In other societies, the benefits of breast feeding must be weighed against the possibility of ingesting contaminated breastmilk. For example, Dorothy Counts' study notes the danger that semen-polluted breastmilk is thought to pose for young Kaliai (PNG) children. By contrast, their neighbours the Kove, described by Ann Chowning, see pregnancy as constituting an even greater threat to the suckling baby than does intercourse. In such cases, the pollution from breastmilk may be such a worrisome health concern for local people that the danger posed by unhygienic breastmilk substitutes, a matter of great concern to health workers, pales by contrast.
A third theme in the book concerns the way that feeding relates to family relations and to social meanings implicit in food sharing. Achsah Carrier's discussion of Ponam Island (PNG) shows how the nuclear household structure of the community, coupled with the belief that infants need breast feeding on demand, combine to keep mothers close to home, especially for the first six months. Women there seldom assume responsibility for one another's children and regard infants' needs as more important than their work responsibilities. Thus, they rely on close co-operation from their husbands. In Janice Morse's case study, the contrasting social and economic factors that make mixed breast- and bottle-feeding similarly attractive to both Fijian and Fijian-Indian mothers are discussed. Infant feeding also provides an opportunity for socialisation, as Anne Marie Tietjen describes for the Maisin (PNG). She sees Maisin infants' interaction with caregivers as crucial for the communication of key cultural concepts. Kathleen Barlow's account from the Murik Lakes area of PNG emphasises how the feeding of mothers and their infants by relatives can have high social significance to those involved. In these communities, a variety of subsistence and demographic factors make it difficult to provide the quality and abundance of foods that are deemed appropriate for mothers and infants.
A fourth major theme in this collection involves the extent of change that has been induced in infant feeding practices through increased Westernisation. The two Solomon Islands accounts focus on this issue directly. K. Gillogly Akin compares several Kwaio commmunities, finding differences in the age at which children are first given solid food which parallel differences in the foods and cooking utensils available. For the neighbouring Kwara'ae, David Gegeo and - 518 Karen Watson-Gegeo describe parents' determination to retain traditional values and practices but also their equal determination to raise their children well. As a result, parents have come to share household work and childrearing roles with increasing flexibility, with fathers showing more interest about childbirth, nutrition, infant care and women's health.
The evaluative commentaries by Bambi Schieffelin (on the importance of cultural perspectives), John Buddulph (a paediatric perspective), Judith Gussler (on the relationship between women's work and infant feeding) and Penny van Esterik (the studies' contribution to anthropological theory) further enhance the value of the collection. The book's comprehensive index makes it possible to find comparative information on a given topic, while the separate bibliographies that end each chapter minimise the distraction inherent in checking a source while reading. The two maps at the front of the book, which locate the research sites precisely, are particularly welcome. In sum, the rich ethnography provided in this book will have both theoretical interest for social scientists and practical relevance for a variety of health professionals.
OLLIVIER, Isabel (trans.): Extracts from Journals relating to the visit to New Zealand in May-July 1772 of the French ships Mascarin and Marquis de Castries under the command of M. J. Marion du Fresne. Early Eyewitness Accounts of Maori Life: 2. Wellington, Alexander Turnbull Endowment Trust with Indosuez New Zealand Limited, 1985. viii + 395pp., maps, figs. Price $40.00 (cloth).
John Dunmore Massey University
In 1772 Marion du Fresne's two ships, the Mascarin and the Marquis-de-Castries spent 10 weeks in the Bay of Islands, anchored off Moturua Island, following a brief call in Spirits Bay, which had been brought to an end by a sudden storm, and an earlier stay in Tasmania. It was the second French expedition to visit New Zealand and the fourth by Europeans — if one counts Tasman's offshore survey as a visit.
Well disposed towards indigenous people, largely, as far as one can tell, because he was influenced by the popularised writings of Rousseau and the effusive comments of Bougainville's companions, Marion du Fresne overstayed his welcome and was massacred with 24 others on June 12, approximately six weeks after his arrival and after a series of friendly exchanges which had encouraged him to set up several camps ashore. He had a Polynesian glossary, provided by Bougainville, which enabled him and his officers to converse to some - 519 extent with local Maoris. The motives for the sudden attack have been the subject of a great deal of speculation over the years, but they will never be known with any degree of certainty.
The survivors, in accordance with the universal practice of all peoples in every age, inflicted revengeful reprisals, probably ensuring, unwittingly, that no one directly involved in the massacre would survive to let later generations know what had been the reasons for it. The French completed the refitting of their ships with considerably greater speed, then sailed north in the fairly forlorn hope of completing Marion du Fresne's programme.
The expedition had originated in Mauritius, which was then still a French possession, and it eventually returned there. De Surville's earlier voyage to New Zealand had started off from French India, but his Saint-Jean-Baptiste finally made its way to France, while other French Pacific expeditions originated from a French port or ended in one — usually both. The lack of a direct link with France on this occassion probably accounts for the fact that their National Archives holds no copy either of Marion du Fresne's log, of the full plan of the voyage, or of the log of Julien Crozet, his second-in-command who effectively took over after the commander's brutal killing.
The real loss from an historical and an anthropological point of view is the absence of any record of Marion du Fresne's reactions to his contacts with Tasmanian and New Zealand natives, and of more precise evidence of his opinions on the Noble Savage. We must be content with the writings of some of his officers and with an edited version of Julien Crozet's lost journal. Fortunately, as far as the stay in New Zealand is concerned, the information provided is extensive: Crozet's observations fill more than 80 pages. We now owe a debt of gratitude to Isabel Ollivier for her indefatigable search of archival records which has produced a remarkable comparative checklist of the available manuscripts, and for having located a valuable new document, Le Dez's draft of an account of the voyage which contains a number of observations on Maori life and on the events of June 1772.
In this, the second volume in the “Early Eyewitness Accounts of Maori Life”, Isabel Ollivier follows the pattern set in her book on de Surville. There is a brief general introduction; the journals are then presented in a short bibliographical note, with the French text on one page and the English translation either in a second column or on the facing page. Care is taken to balance the length of the text on any one page so that the translation corresponds precisely and the reader can verify any point of particular interest. The French text closely follows the original manuscript, including errors of grammar, variations in spelling, capitalisation, punctuation and accents — a presentation which is of more than passing interest since it serves to illustrate the evolution of the language and can shed light on the educational background of the writer. The Maori vocabulary supplied by Le Dez not only reflects phonetic differences between the English and French records, but also highlights the difficulties early visitors have in interpreting a little known language: the kumara, for instance, is given as caye (misprinted in the translation as ceye) in which we can recognise kai.- 520
This example, selected at random, is more evidence of the success of the “Early Eyewitness” project as a source for a wide range of future research work. Documents formerly available only on microfilm or accessible as manuscripts in distant archives, or even, as in the case of the Le Dez account, in private hands, and handwritten or scrawled in an 18th script, never easily decipherable with all their idiosyncrasies, are now available in printed form with a concurrent modern English version. The more pernickety critics may take it upon themselves to quibble over an interpretation here and there, but if they succeed in uncovering an arguable translation they will not shake the solidity of the work as a whole or detract from its value. The industry and attention to detail which Isabel Ollivier has displayed, and which Jeremy Spencer emulates in his notes on the charts and drawings, deserve our praise and our gratitude. More is to come to complete this series of French eyewitness accounts: they will go a long way to break down our Anglocentric interpretation of precolonial history. There is still a great mass of material awaiting our attention: Russian sources, recently broached by Professor Glynn Barratt; French missionary reports and letters still only picked at; and the recollections of settlers from various countries drawn upon, if at all, to reconstruct a family chronicle or shore up a local history.
The title of the present series does not restrict itself to French visitors and allows us consequently to infer that, in time and given favourable circumstances, it will grow to embrace the accounts of other early visitors and produce a truly solid corpus of first-hand material. Then, and one suspects only then, will a balanced picture of precolonial Maori society be attainable, which can replace interpretations of Maoridom which have become ossified into myths and have given rise to fruitless and often dangerous disputations.
It is interesting to note that the series has been initiated by the Turnbull Library Endowment Trust and made possible through the sponsorship of Indosuez New Zealand Ltd, a French merchant bank. Would that this enlightened attitude be imitated by others and that more private sponsorships were available for our historians and anthropologists!
ROMANUCCI-ROSS, Lola: Mead's other Manus: Phenomenology of the Encounter. South Hadley, Mass., Bergin and Garvey, 1985. xxii + 230pp., figs, maps. Price US$24.95 (paper).
James Carrier University of Papua New Guinea
Since the publication of Malinowski's A Diary in the Strict Sense of the Term in 1967, anthropologists have seen a growing amount of work focusing on the act - 521 of field work, rather than the society in which the field work is done. This disciplinary navel-gazing has been justified in part by linking it to the reflexive goal of seeing how meaning, in this case anthropological meaning, is made. Anthropologists, then, began to plough once more the field of phenomenology, already well worked by Berger and Luckman and before them by Alfred Schutz, and they worried once again about the problem of translation, treated already by Peter Winch.
One aspect of all this has been a debunking, expressed less civilly at some times than at others, of objectivist or positivist anthropology and anthropologists. The idea that a village's society is a neutral, objective reality that the anthropologist is supposed to observe and describe came to be more and more dubious. Those anthropological ancestors who were thought to have used this method came to be more and more suspect. And their models of objective social or cultural structures came to be more and more disreputable.
Romanucci-Ross' book exemplifies this modern reflexive and debunking anthropology in a number of ways. The book itself is, in effect, an edited and revised diary-like treatment of her field work in what is now Manus Province, Papua New Guinea: in Sori Island, off north-west Manus, from October 1963 to March 1964; in Mokerang, in eastern Manus, in April and May 1964; in Pere, in south-east Manus, from August to December 1964; in Lorengau, the provincial capital, from January to May 1965.
Romanucci-Ross' subtitle, “Phenomenology of the encounter”, alerts the reader that the book will be no ordinary, objectivist ethnography. Instead, expresssing the modern trend, Romanucci-Ross takes a self-consciously subjectivist and reflexive view of field work. In line with this, the book contains many of her own reflections on her experiences during field work: the loneliness and boredom, the stress, the enjoyment, the sickness and the health. Also in line with this, she makes little effort to interpret and explain the actions of villagers that she chooses to describe. This reluctance can be explained in part, perhaps, by her belief that those actions are not decipherable in any simple way. Instead, she sees them as strategies, as faces that villagers present to her, faces which bear no determinate relationship to what the villagers really are like, and faces which are abnormal precisely because they are presented to the ethnographer, the alien who has plunked herself down in the midst of normal daily life. And in the debunking trend, she makes a number of comments denigrating Margaret Mead's work on and in Manus — both what Mead wrote and her behaviour and relationships in the field.
In its very extremity, Mead's Other Manus demonstrates a danger that awaits those who adopt incautiously the relativising and reflexive approach to field work and to anthropology. This danger is that the anthropologist will lapse into solipsism compounded by hyper-positivism and behaviourism. Because Romanucci-Ross will not take an objectivist view of field work, she will not see people as anything other than their “faces”, the surface appearances that emerge in interaction. Because she will not attempt to impose her own ex post facto logic on - 522 what people do and say, she presents no analysis to speak of, no sense of what this interaction tells us about village people and village society.
The result, then, is a book which, overwhelmingly, is a series of descriptions of events that took place in Romanucci-Ross' presence, events usually directed at her, presented with vanishingly little analysis. We do not, then, know why Romanucci-Ross chooses to relate the events she does relate; we do not know what these events tell us about how villagers live their lives outside of their interactions with the intruding anthropologist; we do not know what villagers are thinking about as they are interacting with the anthropologist, or indeed at any other time. All of these things are closed to us because, it appears, for Romanucci-Ross they are inaccessible: it may be possible to see and hear what people do and say, but it is epistemologically impossible to know the underlying meaning and order behind these surface appearances. And because of this impossibility, speculation is pointless, and Romanucci-Ross does not undertake it.
The book, then, is not anthropology in any recognisable form. Because its portrayal of village life is restricted to unanalysed commonplaces, it tells us nothing of substance about the people upon whom she intruded. Consequently, we cannot relate her work to descriptions of other parts of Papua New Guinea. (Indeed, I found it almost impossible to relate her 132 pages on Sori Island to what I know of a village just two or three hours away by canoe.)
What, then, is this book? It is a travelogue; perhaps it ought to be read as a novel. It is only about itself, and only fleetingly is it about anything else, even the people with whom Romanucci-Ross spent 18 months of her life.
SPECHT, Jim and J. Peter WHITE (eds): Trade and Exchange in Oceania and Australia (Mankind 11 (3)). Published for the Australian Museum and the Anthropological Society of New South Wales by Sydney University Press, 1978. 274pp., figs., photos, tables, maps. Price A$9.50, US$12.00 (paper).
T. L. Hunt University of Washington
Anthropological and archaeological research on a continuum of human behaviour labelled “trade and exchange” has gained increased popularity over the past several years. Oceanists have joined this trend to study trade and exchange as a practical, informative means of investigating culture in economic, as well as social terms. Reflecting this interest is Trade and Exchange in Oceania and Australia, a special issue of the journal Mankind. This issue includes most of the papers that were contributed at a symposium on Trade and Exchange in the Pacific Islands and Australia held in Sydney in August 1977.- 523
Harding introduces the papers of the volume and provides a synthetic over-view of the collection. He tells us that the unifying objective of the symposium was “to review some of the information relating to the nature, origins, and development of ceremonial exchange and trade in the region” (p.161). Three major themes emerge from Harding's synthesis of the symposium. First is the social anthropologist's interest in trade and exchange as it relates to several aspects of production, social and political organisation, cognition, ritual, conflict and material culture. Harding argues that “herein lies the challenge to scientific understanding” (p.161). Second, he recognises the special problems, limitations and prospects of archaeological research on the subject. Finally, a third, related concern tackled by some of the contributors is the issue of integration, or comparability, of archaeological and ethnographic data.
The papers contributed by Weiner and by Ernst deal with symbolic meaning of items used in exchange. Weiner's study is in the Trobriands; Ernst's is among the Onabasulu of Papua New Guinea. Both accounts are guided in part by a structuralist paradigm. Both offer anthropological cases of culturally created structures operative in particular context.
Blundell and Layton write that the purpose of their paper “is to examine patterns of exchange in the Kimberley region of northwestern Australia” (p.231). Their paper focuses primarily on marriage as a form of exchange and the pattern of affinal links it creates. Kaeppler offers a similar study of mate exchange for the Fiji-Tonga-Samoa region. She outlines a pattern of social rank as it relates to “spouse giving” and “spouse receiving” forming a larger social system where “cultural boundaries are not social boundaries” (p.246). In terms of providing the evidence for economic (material) patterns of exchange, her paper does not live up to its enticing title (a monumental endeavour to be sure). Instead, Kaeppler simply offers the conclusion that “objects and ideas about them were manifestations of social relations between Tonga and Fiji/Samoa” (p.251). Studies such as Blundell and Layton's and Kaeppler's offer a glimpse of social relations over a relatively large-scaled geographic space. The implications of such interaction go beyond ethnography to biological anthropology, linguistics and prehistory.
Papers offered by Healey, Strathern and Sillitoe are similar in their functionalist perspective. Sillitoe views ceremonial exchange and trade as means of distributing geographically-restricted resources as well as a mechanism for maintaining social order. For Sillitoe, exchanges take place to maintain amicable relations across the broader social environment. Strathern addresses the probem of Melanesian big-men financing their enterprises. His focus is limited to how “financing” and “credit” operate in two social settings. Healey makes the interesting observation that some groups of the New Guinea highlands place a comparatively strong emphasis on intergroup trade, while others, in contrast, place a relative emphasis on intragroup ceremonial exchange. Those groups with little participation in intergroup trade have highly elaborated ceremonial exchange in a context of high population densities and frequent activities involving military expansion. Intergroup trade appears common in societies where these factors are absent. Healey's explanation for the origins of intergroup trade versus intra- - 524 group ceremonial exchange, and the factors related to both, relies on how aspects of these systems operate. Positing how things work is not the same as explaining why they exist. A more comprehensive solution to the problem Healey addresses, as well as those examined by Sillitoe and Strathern, lies in developing an historical (evolutionary) and functional (ecological/social) account.
The papers contributed by Hughes and Chowning focus on economic and social (acculturational) aspects of culture contact. Chowning contrasts the value of traditional goods among the Kove and Sengseng against the acculturated values of the nearby Lakalai. Hughes looks at European colonial effects and illustrates how European exploitation of traditional exchange media (in this case, shell money) profoundly influenced and aided the colonial process.
Moore takes a historical perspective in his paper and discusses some of the evidence available for Cape York Aboriginal participation in Torres Strait trade. Moore's historical data offer a glimpse of interaction across a relatively recent and somewhat arbitrary boundary between New Guinea and Australia. This subject certainly deserves continued research attention.
Gathercole's paper, also historical in content, joins an old debate on the Maori concept of hau, following Best, Mauss, Sahlins and others. The most conclusive contribution, however, is a critical outline of the reliability and consistency of Elsdon Best's work. Gathercole must conclude that there are no ethnographic facts at all, “only the detritus of historical discourse between various Victorian gentlemen, Pakeha and Maori” (p.339).
Dutton's paper reviews linguistic aspects of two trade systems of south-eastern Papua. His documentation of a unique trading language used by the Hiri comprises the interesting and valuable part of this paper. Otherwise, Dutton's paper is weakened by typological assumptions about linguistic, biological and cultural units that cohere and persist through time. For example, Dutton must invoke remarkable or cataclysmic events in an attempt to explain “a complete reversal of roles” (p.344) in language and “cultural type” as with the case of the Mailu. The tacit assumption here is that human biology, language and cultural traits do not, or cannot, vary independently. Interestingly enough, Dutton's own linguistic evidence for a Hiri trading language seems to point to just the contrary.
The papers by Morphy and Feil deal primarily with social organisation with little direct discussion of the symposium topic. These papers might have felt more at home published elsewhere.
The remainder of the contributions to the volume are from archaeology. These might be broadly characterised by studies of material distributions in geographic space and studies addressing the problems of interpreting trade and exchange in archaeological context. Rathje's paper cannot easily be placed in such a dichotomy, as he attempts to draw generalisations about trade and exchange with a cross-cultural, comparative perspective. He recognises general parallels between systems of Mesoamerica and those of Melanesia including: specialised trade centres in resource-poor zones, “a reduction in long-distance trade and an increase in the intensity of regional exchange” (p.166), trade-product specialisation and the related propriety specialisation. He suggests that - 525 small-scale systems enjoy greater stability as opposed to the trend towards decentralisation of large or expansive systems. If I read Rathje correctly, he suggests that greater understanding will come through “comprehensive models of material-behavioural systems” with archaeology being a means “to describe fully the role of material culture in both past and present behavioural systems” (p.168). This ambitious goal seems untenable, for, as Rathje himself points out, there may be few, if any, archaeological correlates to behavioural variation recorded in contemporary societies. Further, as of yet, we have little reason to think that definitive material-behavioural correlates will ever be possible to make.
Miller makes several compelling points in the introductory paragraphs of his paper. Understanding distributional variability in terms specific to archaeology will indeed be important. From there, however, Miller wanders off into some of the most abstract quarters of anthropological thinking in exploring “an organizational approach” (never defined, and consulting Binford's paper cited is of little help). Miller makes it clear that some archaeologists still desperately want to be “paleo-ethnographers” where loose ethnographic analogues replace assessment of archaeological phenomena in empirically sufficient terms (see Dunnell 1982).
From an older intellectual tradition in anthropology and archaeology, is Vanderwal's description of prehistoric exchange in coastal Papua. For the most part, his paper describes materials excavated from Oposisi. He writes that “much of the cultural debris from this site is suggestive of Western Oceanic rather than Papuan origins; an exchange model is proposed in explanation”, further, “it is inferred that later archaeological cultures inherited this exchange principle” (p.417). Unfortunately, equating material assemblages with the migration of some “linguistic-cultural type” that remained essentially static in economy or behaviour for thousands of years is untenable on both empirical and epistemological grounds.
This brings us, in contrast, to the excellent papers by White and Modjeska, and Ambrose. White and Modjeska examine the complex relations between recoverable material culture (i.e., potential archaeological evidence) and observable human behaviour. These authors see no reason to expect that particular mechanisms of trade or exchange will be detectable from archaeological context. While not explicitly stating so, White and Modjeska might be warning us that archaeologists do not reconstruct the past as if to provide some kind of paleo-ethnographic account of social behaviour or as a means to get inside the heads of extinct Melanesians. In a similar vein, Ambrose makes it clear that equating prehistoric long-distance transport of materials with mechanisms of trade documented ethnographically will be of little use. Instead, Ambrose suggests some economic generalisations concerning “resistance” to the flow of goods (in geographic context, in this case, over land), and the potential returns of maritime-based trade.
Papers by Davidson, Egloff, Irwin, Leach and McBryde are substantive contributions focusing on the archaeological distributions of materials across both time and space. These papers exemplify the power of archaeological data. For example, from ethno-historical and archaeological evidence, Davidson in the West - 526 Polynesia-Fiji region, and Egloff in the Trobriands, document (albeit in preliminary fashion) the scale of material distributions over space and their gross occurrence in time. Egloff, using evidence for prehistoric ceramic movement, is able to assert that “a perspective of the kula should be one of mutability rather than that of a system operating at its optimum, frozen in time” (p.433).
Even greater detailed evidence is provided by Leach in his New Zealand study, and by McBryde for Australia. Leach's Washpool-based model for movement of lithic materials and inferred community interaction is firmly based on empirical data and should guide others in comparable analyses for other New Zealand sites. Similarly, McBryde's excellent paper examines aspects of stone artefact distributions from quarries in the greenstone belts of Victoria. This study clearly points to the value of archaeologists working first with existing collections (whenever possible), then, as necessary, resorting to a relatively costly and destructive part of archaeology — field work.
Irwin's contribution is, in my own opinion, one of the best in the volume. His approach is problem-oriented and empirically well grounded, relying on the greatest potentials of archaeological data. Irwin recognises that generally no single cause can be invoked to explain all observed patterns. For example, he points out that ecological considerations merely indicate that Mailu Island economy was compatible with locally available resources — the rise of specialised manufacture and trade was not “ecologically determined”. Instead, Irwin can examine the relative importance of multiple causal factors. In this respect, his Mailu study is both historical and processual.
Few anthropologists would dispute the observation that anthropology has become increasingly diverse. Any hopes for unified theory in anthropology seem to be relegated to disciplinary history. In the absence of unifying theory, anthropology can be broadly divided into explicitly subjective-interpretive approaches in contrast with those who aspire for a scientific system of understanding. These disparate means of making sense of human phenomena, such as trade and exchange, are represented in the papers of this volume.
If ethnographic accounts are varied in their perspective and purpose, then what value are they to understanding the prehistoric past? Ambrose, Rathje, White and Modjeska reiterate an important point that several have cogently argued: the primary subject matter of ethnography is living people where behaviour is observable, whereas the archaeological record does not provide unambiguous evidence of behaviour. The problem is one of equifinality — numerous dynamic factors (human and natural) result in the same material/distributional consequences. Rather than accept this fact as belittling the significance of archaeology, continued effort must be made to build on the strengths of archaeology. Exactly how archaeologists are to progress in bringing science to their discipline remains an unresolved issue (Dunnell 1982) — the solution to which clearly does not lie in mimicry of sociocultural description.- 527
Integration between the very different sources of evidence offered by ethnography, biological anthropology, linguistics and archaeology, and, indeed, seeing a unified and holistic discipline, may await the development of some general theory. In the absence of a unifying theory, however, understanding more about the origins and nature of trade and exchange in any particular region will require asking specific problem-oriented questions of participants in such a symposium. Otherwise, given the eclectic state of anthropology in general, a collection of papers on trade and exchange is likely to share little more than the book cover that binds them.
SAHLINS, Marshall: Islands of History. University of Chicago Press, 1985. xix + 180pp., index. Price US$22.50 (cloth).
Judith Binney University of Auckland
In this collection of five potent essays, the American anthropologist Marshall Sahlins develops the central theme of his earlier short work on Hawaii, Historical Metaphors and Mythical Realities, that events in “history” are interpreted by individuals through the “structures of significance” which their culture has given them. When people of different cultures come in contact, the incidents in which they are all involved may, therefore, convey quite different meanings to each group, and their behaviour is itself shaped by their different understandings of the occasion. But if traditions are re-enacted during the events, the actions in the events also affect and modify the traditions.
Sahlins' stated purpose in this volume is first to reveal how “history explodes anthropology”: that the structures of a society are insistently transformed by events. No society remains static; and no tradition is fixed. The moments of contact of different cultures reveal most clearly how actions, shaped, although not necessarily determined, by distinct cultural views alter tradition. Sahlins then reverses his thesis to show that “anthropology explodes history”: that the cosmology of a society, and the “cultural categories” by which individuals have learned to interpret events create “history”. Captain James Cook died because he, thought to be the Hawaiian god Lono, should not have returned.- 528
The theses are tested in Pacific history, which Sahlins admits that he had for a long time ignored in the curious belief, widespread among Europeans, that the islands had no history. Entering into New Zealand's past for the first time, he looks at Hone Heke's war at Kororareka. It is this example which I shall take up, as Sahlins argues it has been historically misinterpreted. The assumption has been that Heke was challenging the flag of British sovereignty, and that he sought to possess the erstwhile centre of trade, Kororareka. For Sahlins, the sack of the township was a diversionary tactic, while Heke's objective was the pole, and not the flag at all. The pole, he suggests, was seen by Heke as a marker of a tuahu, the fenced sacred place in a Maori community whose upright corner posts reiterate the separation of Rangi and Papa, and therefore the creation of the world of light, the world of mankind. Heke sought to take the flagstaff as the central post, the pole of life, the toko ora. Sahlins believes that behind Heke's actions lies the popular myth-history of Manaia which records how (by a devious ruse) a tribe who had erected their sacred pole to mark their claim to land had been forced to go elsewhere. The fall of the toko ora of the British could mean that they, too, might be forced to leave.
It cannot be doubted that Heke's main objective was the flagstaff. The missionary Henry Williams was clear that the sack of Kororareka was an unintended outcome: “they did not fight for it”. But Heke knew about flags. Since 1834, some northern Maori chiefs had been flying the flag given to the independent United Tribes specifically for trade; the substitution of the Union Jack for it after 1840 was a specific complaint of Heke's. At one stage he demanded the re-erection of two poles, one for the English, and one for “the Maori flag”.
The importance of pendants and flags was rapidly grasped in the Polynesian world. George Robertson, in his account The Discovery of Tahiti, described how the pendant raised by HMS Dolphin “in token of our having taken Possession of that place”, immediately became the focus of attention. It was not the pole, but the cloth which mattered. It was finally carried “clear off” and reappeared later, attached to a different pole and raised high among a huge party of warriors (Robertson 1948:160, 162–3). This pendant, in turn, was made into a sacred girdle (maro ura), for the investiture of the “queen's” son, and was later seen by Cook, in 1777, ornamented with feathers of three different colours. Flags soon became part of the indigenous iconography of the Maori world. The 1834 flag, which Heke wished to fly again in 1844, was hoist at the elections of the first Maori King in 1857–8. It was a statement of the “Rangatiratanga”, that independent chieftainship of the Maori, although its design was entirely European. Flags of Maori design, often bearing reference to the Scriptures, would be flown in the mid-19th century wars by the Kingitanga, by Pai Marire, by the Ringatu followers of Te Kooti, and by the Kawanatanga, the Government supporters. Flags also began to be designed as statements of tribal and family identities, and were flown on the marae at ceremonial occasions, especially tangi, in the later 19th century. Flags and poles: both had their meanings.
The “structure of the event”, that is Heke's war, was forged from both cultures. Heke is taken for a fool if it is not acknowledged that he had learnt from - 529 his extensive experiences by 1844 that flags were statements of power and possession. This seems to me to be the danger of the structuralist interpretation of history. It seeks meaning through the continuity of Heke's cultural traditions; it fails to recognise that human beings can grasp quickly, as Sahlins later says (p.138), that “the world is under no obligation to conform to the logic” by which we have learned to conceive it.
The mystical activity which was practical, or the practical activity which was mystical, as Sahlins decides to describe the war, is, he believes, best revealed in the “enchanted account”, with its “mythopoetic deep structures of Maori politics” (p.66), which was narrated by the anonymous Ngapuhi chief to Frederick Maning, and then published by him in 1862 as The War in the North. But Maning admitted at the time that the narrative device of the old chief was a fiction, which he adopted to make a “native story” (Maning to D. McLean, June 20, 1862, McLean MSS).
Heke's war, says Sahlins, exposed the myth of the Treaty of Waitangi; “ one myth is thus decoded by another” (p.71). Heke, he argues, revealed the Treaty for what it was: “‘a device to blind and amuse ignorant savages’”, or a cheap way to acquire the possession of the land. Sahlins has here accepted Ian Wards' interpretation in the The Shadow of the Land, but Wards has been shown to have flagrantly misread the historical documents in the Colonial Office files (Binney 1969:199–202; Adams 1977:68, 149, 218). Heke's war was fought not in rejection of the British sovereignty as such, but to assert the clause in the Treaty which had upheld local chiefly authority, or the “Rangatiratanga”. Hence his desire for the two flags to be flown, “side by side”. The betrayal was the fact that the British never intended to share the power. But the British intervention was not simply an act of gross imperialism, and nor was the Treaty intended simply to deceive, as Wards attempted to argue. To build elaborate interpretations on poor history is, I suggest, a weakness in anthropology as a discipline.
Sahlins' book is, of course, in many ways fascinating. It is crammed with good stories as well as extremely shrewd observations and judgments: in the genealogical game, favourite arena of political manoeuvring by the Hawaiian monarchy (and not only there), “lineage is not so much a structure as it is an argument” (p.20). But the writing is also quite unnecessarily obscure in places. This opaqueness raises a serious question: who is Sahlins writing for? Certainly few of the people from the cultures about which he writes, and that is pernicious. The discovery that the Pacific has a history should also lead to a recognition of the responsibility of talking with the people whose history it is. Sahlins finally comes to the conclusion that the distinction between structure and event is false (p.153). How could one disagree? We organise the present in terms of our understanding of the past, whoever we are. We organise the past according to the present interests and concerns of the society and of the individuals who tell the history — be it in written word or spoken narrative and song. There is, therefore, always the possibility of many significances existing, or being found, for the same events. History is not static; and nor is any traditional ordering either. As Chinua Achebe wrote in his powerful novel about the coming of the whites to Nigeria, Things Fall - 530 Apart, “There is no story that is not true.... The world has no end, and what is good among one people is an abomination with others” (Achebe 1984:99). What we can do, as historians or as anthropologists, is to ensure that the different ways of seeing are respected and not manipulated, and that the different understandings are conveyed by the narrators with integrity.
VALERI, Valerio: Kingship and Sacrifice: Ritual and Society in Ancient Hawaii. Translated by Paula Wissing. Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1985. xxviii + 446pp., bib., index. Price US$22.50 (paper).
Alan Howard University of Hawaii
Kingship and Sacrifice is a book that has been long awaited by Polynesianists, and by Hawaiian specialists in particular. Drafts of the manuscript were circulated in privileged circles for several years before its publication, and those in the know have hailed it as a monumental achievement. Marshall Sahlins, leader - 531 of the interpretive reconstructionist programme that now seems to be sweeping Polynesian studies, is quoted on the dust jacket in the following glowing terms:
I cannot say enough about the brilliant insights into Hawaiian culture: the stunning analyses of politics, divine kingship, the tabu system in general, mana, and a whole host of topics famous not only in Polynesian studies but in anthropology and social philosophy generally.
Coming from Sahlins, who knows the Polynesian material as well as anyone (and whom Valeri acknowledges as inspirational teacher and colleague), that is high praise indeed. In an early published review, Linnekin (1985), another fine student of early Hawaiian culture, praises the work as “brilliant” and a “tour de force”. While she acknowledges that “empiricists who are not persuaded by the deductive methodology of Continental rationalism may find it audacious,” she asserts that “the analysis convinces because it is based on exhaustive and meticulous ethnohistorical research” (p.788).
From the standpoint of literature coverage the book in fact represents a remarkable feat of scholarship. In an impressive introduction, Valeri lists the sources he consulted, published and unpublished, including sources in the Hawaiian language. Rather than relying on dubious translations of some of the more important sources, Valeri read the original Hawaiian manuscripts and drew his own conclusions. By bringing together the myriad of sources on traditional Hawaiian culture, and pointing out their strengths and weaknesses, this chapter stands as an important contribution in its own right.
Yet, despite the apparent care that Valeri has taken with the sources, Kingship and Sacrifice has been subjected to a highly critical review by another scholar of Hawaiian culture, John Charlot (forthcoming). Charlot is one of the few individuals whose knowledge of the sources equals Valeri's, and his critique is often devastating. Charlot details, point-by-point, ways in which Valeri uses texts selectively, or distorts them to suit his argument. Ultimately Charlot accuses Valeri of using “tendentious interpretations, omissions, and tenuous arguments to theorize his way to a counter-system of Hawaiian religion, one combined from well-known elements drawn from the history of religions” (p.36). Like others before him, Charlot maintains, Valeri leaves out those elements which are most special and valuable in Hawaiian religion. While I do not know the texts well enough to make definitive judgments, I must admit that I am persuaded by many of Charlot's specific criticisms. The tenor of his critique, however, when juxtaposed with Sahlins' and Linnekin's praise, calls for an exploration of the essential nature of Valeri's project. My purpose in this review is to explore the basis for such dramatically opposing views by such competent and knowledgeable scholars.
In my opinion, the basis for disagreement stems from the fact that Valeri brings a strong interpretive programme to the Hawaiian material. By a strong interpretive programme I refer to a theoretical framework that is based upon a - 532 logically consistent set of axiomatic propositions that informs interpretation. Such programmes are essentially deductive in nature, and they treat particular cases as examples of universalistic processes. They differ from weak interpretive programmes in so far as they prescribe interpretations based on an axiomatic ordering inherent in the programme rather than an ordering inherent in the data under investigation. Orthodox psychoanalysis and orthodox Marxism are familiar examples of strong interpretive programmes. Weak interpretive programmes are those that make few axiomatic assumptions, and seek to derive order from the data empirically.
The intellectual foundations of Valeri's interpretive scheme include influences from Hegel, Feuerbach, Durkheim, and especially the theory of sacrifice pro-pounded by Hubert and Mauss. The model of sacrifice that Valeri puts forth “presupposes that the rite is the objective form of a process of consciousness that it stimulates” (p.72). This assumption leads Valeri to generate an elaborate theory of Hawaiian religious beliefs as a basis for interpreting the rituals of sacrifice, which is his ultimate goal. The theory he develops is highly intellectualised, suggesting a coherence to Hawaiian “thought” (though not necessarily conscious or articulated thought) that has not been apparent to most other interpreters of Hawaiian culture.
Following Hubert and Mauss, Valeri assumes the structure of sacrifice to be triadic, with the sacrifier (on whose behalf a sacrifice is made) moving “from state A to state C by passing through state B, which implies being in contact with the god” (p.72). In the first stage sacrifier, god and group are presumed to all be in a state of disorder, which signifies an imperfect realisation of humanness. According to Valeri this feature may be signified by emphasising the animal or disordered dimension in the offering or, in the case of human sacrifice, by the choice of a transgressor as victim. In the second stage the natural signifiers are brought into contact by consecration with the image of the god, resulting in “a transformation of what the god stands for: the human type he personifies becomes more evident” (p.72). This transforms the sacrifier, rendering him “perfectly ordered by the presence of the concept in his consciousness” (p.73) and producing a heightened state of order and attention in the audience, the group to which the sacrifier belongs. In the next stage attention and orderliness are lessened by removing the divine concept from consciousness somewhat, and by reducing the bodily and speech control required during the consecration.
As this brief description of Valeri's model illustrates, his analysis presumes sacrifice to be an objectified process of consciousness. He makes his intellectualist position clear in the following passage:
I am prepared to maintain that there is an implicit belief that the results of sacrifice, whatever they are, depend on a previous effect, conventionally produced or not, on the sacrifier's understanding. In other words, the understanding and consequent introjecton of what the god stands for is assumed or recognized in every collective judgment as to the efficacy of the - 533 rite with regard to its stated aims, which usually are not understanding itself. I maintain this precisely because I claim that the god is essentially a concept of human action: thus a rite that consists in empowering a subject to act in a certain way by reference to the concept of that action must be based on the presupposition that the subject understands that concept (albeit in a reified form) (p. 74).
Such a brief account cannot do justice to the complexity of Valeri's reasoning, but I have included it to provide an indication of what I mean by a strong interpretive programme. The question I wish to pursue now is what are the consequences of using such a programme for interpreting Hawaiian religious beliefs and practices.
Let me begin with the benefits of such an approach, which are considerable. A strong interpretive programme has the advantage of tying together into a coherent picture a wide variety of seemingly unrelated information. As with psychoanalytic interpretation, behaviour and thoughts which at first appear bizarre or random can be shown to be functionally tied to other states through the medium of symbolic transformations. Discrepancies and anomalies are dissolved in favour of a systemic understanding that links together data into a finely woven net. When done well, the result is likely to be a sense of revelation, an explosion of insight that leads one to say something like, “Of course; it all makes sense now!” Given his assumptions, Valeri's analysis is indeed well done, and it is from this standpoint that his work can be labeled “brilliant”. He ties together beliefs, ritual practices, concepts of social hierarchy and political process into a marvelously intricate, thoroughly consistent package.
But what if one approaches the assumptions underlying such an interpretive programme with skepticism? What if one insists on staying close to the data, on requiring that each assertion or interpretation by “proven”, or at least thoroughly substantiated by textual (in the broad sense) evidence? How well do interpretations based on strong programmes hold up in the face of nonbelievers? The answer, of course, is that it depends on how well the assumptions reflect the underlying realities of the particular case. Quite clearly Freud's assumptions were more directly applicable for interpreting 19th century Vienna than they were for interpreting Polynesians. They key question for our concern, therefore, is how well suited are Valeri's assumptions for interpeting Hawaiian religious practices?
It is important to recognize at the outset that Valeri's interpretations are, perforce, restricted in time and space. Since most of the documentation available to him was recorded after Kamehameha's rise to power, the beliefs and rites Valeri describes refer almost exclusively to kingship during and after Kamehameha's reign. Furthermore, they are located almost exclusively on Kamehameha's home island of Hawaii. Although Valeri acknowledges as much, he still presents his analysis as though it were typical (perhaps archetypical would be a better word here) of Hawaiian religion through the ages. If that is his argument, it is completely untenable. Kamehameha's rise to power was undoubtedly a unique occurrence in - 534 Hawaiian history. It may, in fact, have been the only example of Hawaiian kingship that fits Valeri's model. The great advantage to Valeri is that Kamehameha strove to unify and consolidate the politico-religious system; that is, he strove to reduce diversity and to create a uniform system. Such potentates are a true boon for strong interpretations, for they do some of the work of reducing discrepancies in advance of analysis. But to equate Kamehameha's orthodoxy with Hawaiian religion in general is to simplify beyond reason. It is also to defy a good deal of evidence to the contrary. There are many documents indicating that differences in practices and beliefs existed between islands, and there is every reason to believe that Hawaiian religion prior to Kamehameha was far more fluid and multiplex than it was when described by visitors and literate Hawaiians in the 19th century.
In his stress on uniformity and coherence Valeri also ignores the evidence from Polynesian ethnology in general, which strongly suggests that Polynesian beliefs and practices were (and still are) situationally patterned. They were never fixed in concrete, but were subject to constant reinterpretation, depending on who had the power to do so and what the pragmatic advantages were on diverse occasions. They had, in short, a generative aspect that Valeri all but ignores. The power of Polynesian symbolic codes lies less in the definiteness of their meanings than in the potential they hold for multiple interpretations, for reinterpretation when circumstances warrant.
By “freezing” religious practices during the Kamehameha era, Valeri introduced what will seem to most Hawaiianists, and to Polynesianists in general, some major distortions. For example, he places an overwhelming emphasis on the king as divine, which undoubtedly reached a peak following Kamehameha's investiture, but this drastically underplays the importance of popular support in “more normal” times. My reading of the evidence strongly suggests that Polynesian chieftainship was based upon both divine affiliation and pragmatic support from subjects (Marcus nd). In his argument that ali'i were conceived as divine (pp.145–53), Valeri all but ignores the populist, human basis for chieftainship. This leads him to draw some rather dubious conclusions concerning Hawaiian chiefs. For example, he asserts that ali'i are “thought to be free of desire, precisely like the gods. This is why they are characterised by immobility and inactivity, not only on the mythical level ... but on the real level as well” (p.147). He goes on to proclaim that “divine ali'i are forbidden to have sexual relations with women of lower rank, and they are obliged — men and women — to remain virgin until marriage” (p.149). Chiefs were, in fact, notorious for their sexual adventures, and the contradiction cannot be easily dismissed, as Valeri would have it, by recourse to a life-stage sequence. The point that Valeri misses is that Polynesian chiefs were conceived as anomalous — they were both gods and human in their conception. In some circumstances their divine nature was emphasised, in other circumstances they were seen as powerful, and flawed, humans. It is precisely the dynamic between these conceptions that lends to Polynesian chieftainship, and religion, a dynamic quality that is largely absent from Valeri's account.- 535
His desire to impose coherence on the data also leads Valeri to unduly fix the Hawaiian pantheon and to exaggerate the purity and centrality of males, the pollution and marginality of females. He thus positions the four male gods — Kū, Lono, Kāne and Kanaloa — in the centre of Hawaiian religious life, with an oscillation between Kū and Lono driving the essential dynamic of kingly ritual. Kū, in fact, as the prime recipient of human sacrifices, is given a privileged position, with others reduced to varying degrees of insignificance. To dismiss the goddess Pele with such aplomb is something most Hawaiianists will marvel over, especially since she, of all Hawaiian deities, is the one who has best survived the holocaust of European invasion. But then, Valeri is led by his logic to consider females, including female gods, as impure and hence apart from the central order.
I doubt that the pantheon was ever quite as neat as Valeri presumes. Here again, I suspect that we are being presented with a current of opinion frozen at the time of Kamehameha. Kamehameha's ascendance probably resulted in a sharply amplified glorification of warfare and, along with it, his war god, Kū. Since warfare is a male activity, this may well have had the effect of exaggerating the masculine components in ritual (and belief) during that moment in Hawaiian history, and downplaying female components. The degree to which Valeri relegates women to a role of ritual and social inferiority goes beyond what might be justified during Kamehameha's time, however. But his programme seems to require it, for it is based so heavily on the notion that an opposition between purity and pollution is at the heart of sacrifice. And since Hawaiian symbolism does include the notion of women as polluting, the opposition Valeri poses must have been especially tempting. Yet Hanson (1982) has recently published a paper reinterpreting the Polynesian notion of female pollution, and in my opinion convincingly demonstrates that impurity is not central to Polynesian conceptions at all. Valeri entirely ignores Hanson's analysis. As Charlot (forthcoming) appropriately points out, the Hawaiian texts support a view of complementarity between the sexes as a generative model of social order, not one that is male-emphatic.
A more reasonable view of the Hawaiian patheon is that it was not fixed at all with regard to superiority or inferiority, centrality or marginality, except perhaps for brief moments in time. More likely each competing chief chose to worship one or another of the gods, and that god's position in the pantheon reflected the chief's status. The logic of Polynesian politics suggests that opposing chiefs chose different gods to symbolise their opposition. I would submit, therefore, that the very reason for having multiple gods in a political system like that of preKamehameha Hawaii was to facilitate the symbolisation of chiefly contest. If this were indeed the case, fluidity rather than fixity would be required.
I could go on positing objections to Valeri's specific interpretations of the Hawaiian material, but Charlot has already done an exemplary job of that. I strongly recommend that anyone reading Valeri's book also consult Charlot's detailed review. But I am less concerned here with specific shortcomings of - 536 Valeri's book than with the theoretical and methodological issues it raises for the field of interpretive anthropology.
There is no doubt that strong interpretive programs yield some powerful benefits. For one, they often bring to light relationships and interpretative possibilities that were previously missed, and thereby set new directions and redefine issues. Valeri's analysis of the luakini temple rites scores high marks in this regard, since it provides archaeologists and ethnohistorians with a valuable new model for interpreting temple remains. Thus, despite its shortcomings, no serious student of traditional Hawaiian culture will be able to ignore Kingship and Sacrifice, for in it Valeri has defined the interpretive challenge more clearly than ever before.
On a more general level this book, and others like it, raise some rather serious questions about interpretive anthropology. On the one hand are questions concerning the suitability of Western assumptions about thinking for universalistic theories of symbolic action. Did Hawaiians really approach rituals with the coherent intellectual structures implied by Valeri's analysis, or were their semiotic codes essentially multiplex, and riddled with contradictions and anomalies? It seems to me that the more intimately one gets to know any given culture the more one becomes aware of inconsistencies, individual disparities and situational variations. My reading of the recent literature on non-Western ethnopsychology (e.g., White and Kirkpatrick 1985) leads me to conclude that we have greatly overestimated the degree to which Western assumptions can be extended without modification. To put it bluntly, Valeri's account seems to transform Hawaiians into an odd breed of hyper-intellectualised Europeans. Until interpretive anthropology is able to generate models based on genuinely transcultural principles of thought and action they will continue to result in such serious distortions.
On the other hand, I am concerned about “rules of evidence”. At present, some would say that interpretive anthropologists have none, that each interpreter lets his or her imagination run free, with immense licence to select and choose data that support the case being made. To meet this objection we may need some procedures that perform the same function as tests of significance do with quantitative data; that is, provide a basis for indicating just how credible a particular interpretation is relative to the texts that bear upon it. Until we have such rules the game will have to be played through a sequence of idiosyncratic interpretations and counter-interpretations, but this is not likely to provide a firm enough foundation for the field to thrive in the long run.
Polynesian ethnology has much to gain from interpretive endeavours, and we all owe a great deal to scholars like Valeri for showing us the potential that exists. Perhaps the first few steps need to be bold and sweeping, but if interpretive accounts are to stand the test of time they will require a more rigorous brand of scholarly discipline.
WEBSTER: E. M.: The Moon Man: a Biography of Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay. Melbourne, Melbourne University Press, 1984. xxv + 421pp., maps, plates. Price A$33.00 (cloth).
Peter Lawrence University of Sydney
In 1949, when I began my field work among the Garia inland from Madang, Papua New Guinea, an informant said to me in Tok Pisin: “Wanpela magarai bilong mipela” (‘one of our magarais’). The word seemed unusual and turned out to be a synonym for masalai in Tok Pisin and o'iteu in the vernacular: a traditional deity. Later I realised that it was a corruption of a personal name, Maclay — properly Miklouho-Maclay — the first European (a Russian) to live in the general region, at Bongu, some 30 miles away on the coast, long before the estabishment of colonial administration. As I became immersed in the local cargo movement, I learned that he was not just the Bongu tamo-boro-boro (the big, big-man) and karam tamo (the moon man, because of his experiments with blue light), his most common sobriquets. He was essentially Tibud Maclay (the god Maclay), identified with either of the two great coastal deities, Kilibob and Manup, the people's first cargo god, who had behaved generously towards them by providing new artefacts in return for their gifts of food. The Garia never saw him, for he never travelled very far inland, but his name and fame spread and were incorporated in local religions. In the 1960s he was even identified as Jesus Christ.
Between 1871 and 1883, Maclay spent nearly three years on the coast near Bongu. The basic facts of his career, which I needed as background for my own discoveries, were available in a number of works, especially Greenop's Who Travels Alone and Dora Fischer's Unter Südsee-Insulanern. Recently, Sentinella's translation of the Maclay diaries was published. Now we have Elsie Webster's excellent biography. It is based on meticulous research (Miss Webster - 538 learned Russian to ensure accuracy). It is beautifully written. It is easily the best account of Maclay's life in English or, I suspect, in any language. In addition, the illustrations are a great pleasure. Many are reproductions of Maclay's own sketches.
To appreciate Maclay's career, it is necessary to bear in mind the situation in Australia's near north in the 19th century, the stage on which he played out so much of his life. In 1824, the Dutch annexed West New Guinea, a trading fief claimed by their vassal the Sultan of Tidore. East New Guinea — modern Papua New Guinea — remained unoccupied by any Great Power until 1884, when Britain and Germany reluctantly declared protectorates: Britain over the southern mainland (what became Papua); and Germany over the north-eastern area.
Nikolai Nikolaevich Miklouho-Maclay — actually, he adopted the Maclay when he was 22, some say on the presumption of Scottish descent — was born on July 17, 1846, in the Novgorod region of Russia. After a childhood in Russian and German schools, he was debarred from tertiary education in Russia for repeatedly “breaking” the rules, although there is no proof that this involved political activity. Thus, he studied at German universities: humanities at Heidelberg, medicine at Leipsig, and zoology at Jena, where he came under the influence of the great German scholar Ernst Haeckel, who had a profound influence on his future. In the 1860s he visited the Canary Islands and journeyed through the Middle East, studying marine phenomena (especially sponges and sharks). He then prepared himself for his greatest adventure, which began in 1871: his love affair with what is now Papua New Guinea, where he studied marine zoology but also, increasingly, anthropology.
In September 1871, in the Russian Corvette Vitiaz, Maclay arrived at Bongu or, as he renamed it, Constantine Harbour after the Grand Duke of that name, together with two retainers he had acquired in Samoa: a Swede and a Polynesian. He stayed for 15 months. It was a triumph over the most appalling conditions. Initially the people were afraid and hostile, and became even more so after the corvette's 21-gun salute in honour of the Grand Duke. He suffered crippling malaria, about which at the time practically nothing was known. His companions appear to have been inept. As he claimed, the Swede was useless and cowardly. The Polynesian died. Maclay felt it necessary to bury him secretly at sea in conformity with the contemporary European belief that should “primitive peoples” learn about European mortality they might be encouraged to attack. He therefore indicated that the man had flown away, thereby adding to his own mystique. Yet gradually — even though he checked his firearms every night — he won the people's confidence.
In December 1872, Maclay was rescued by the Russian Navy and taken to the Dutch East Indies, where, as the guest of the Governor-General, he was lodged and given facilities to write up his research. He fell in love with a daughter of the household, although nothing came of it. A year later, in December 1873, he set out for a six-month visit to the south-west coast of Dutch New Guinea. This was a more traumatic experience than Bongu, where the people were still undisturbed - 539 by foreign intruders and, once they had accepted him, were relatively placid. Dutch New Guinea, lying on the fringe of Asia, was preyed on by Indonesian pirates and slavers — Maclay himself was given a Papuan slave boy by the Sultan of Tidore — so that its people were inured to periodic violence. He had to defend his property and assert his authority in ways that publicly he disavowed. I refer to this later.
During the rest of 1874 and in 1875, Maclay was in the Malay Peninsula, where he made two extensive journeys under the auspices of the Sultan of Johor. His interest now was largely anthropological: to find and observe “an interesting variety of the human race”, the country's aborigines, who he thought would share characteristics with New Guineans. While in Singapore he met and got on well with the swashbuckling Italian explorer D'Albertis, who became famous for his navigation of the Fly River in Papua. They talked of New Guinea as if it were Paradise, and it was thus not surprising that Maclay's thoughts turned again to his Bongu people. With a retinue of three servants, he went back to them in June 1876 and remained with them until November 1877. Although the area had been badly affected by an earthquake during his absence, his life was now more comfortable than during his previous visit. He built a bigger and better house, and he enjoyed French wines and other luxuries. He devoted himself to anthropological observations and exploration along the coast and in its immediate hinterland.
From New Guinea, in 1877, he went first to Hong Kong and then to Sydney, where he was at once lionised. He was addressed as “Baron” — a free translation of his Russian rank of “hereditary nobleman”, for which he was not personally responsible but which he did not contradict — was elected to the Linnean Society, stayed at the Australian Club, and became the intimate of the leading amateur scientist Sir William Macleay. He campaigned for the building, at public expense, of a biological station at Watson's Bay, where he could work and write. (The building still stands.) Yet he did not abandon his practical interest in Melanesia. In 1879, he travelled in the American schooner Sadie F. Caller through the Pacific Islands to investigate the conditions of the labour trade — “blackbirding”, as it has come to be known. Thereafter, in 1882, he visited Europe and, in 1883, spent a further 10 days at Bongu, warning the people to beware of Europeans who might now come to exploit them. He then returned to Sydney, where he married, very happily, the widowed daughter of the Premier of New South Wales, Sir John Robertson.
Yet Maclay now was to see the end of the old Pacific through which he (and others) had been free to roam at will. With the establishment of colonial rule in eastern New Guinea in 1884, his strip of coast fell to Germany. He tried hard to protect the rights of the people whom he had come to regard as his own, appealing vainly to the Tsar to declare a Russian protectorate and appoint himself as a proconsul to see to their general advancement — what he called the Maclay Coast Scheme. He sent a telegram of protest to Bismarck but it fell on deaf ears. He returned to Russia in 1886, followed a year later by his wife and two sons. The move proved disastrous. Terribly ill after the ravages of the tropics and depressed - 540 by the seizure of eastern New Guinea, he was in no physical condition to withstand the rigours of a Russian winter. He died in 1888, just 42 years old.
As we should say nowadays, a short but action-packed career. What sort of a man was Miklouho-Maclay? In her judicious Epilogue, Elsie Webster says, rightly I think, that today little of his academic work is remembered. One cannot be dogmatic about its worth because, at his own request, many of his papers were destroyed after his death. I have no competence to assess his zoological research, but his anthropology, even by the standards of his day, was rudimentary. But, after all, anthropology was then a new subject and it had to begin somewhere. His achievement, his greatness, lay in his pioneering relations with Melanesians. Malinowski, the father of ethnographic field work, saw him “as a ‘new type’ in the history of” the subject because he made close contact with the people he tried to study. We must, then, assess him as a moral being.
In the Soviet Union Maclay is treated as a secular saint. As the blurb puts it, “the ideal forerunner of humane socialist man”. Certainly, he was a most remarkable individual. Yet we should be grateful to Miss Webster for scraping off much of the bogus hagiography and thereby enhancing his reputation. In this book he appears as a genuine person, warts and all — a typical, but generally good, man of his period. His dealings with Europeans were not always tranquil. His aristocratic birth did not bring him great wealth. To finance his travels, he made continual demands on his mother and at one stage was seriously in debt. His affairs became stable largely through the intervention of the Russian Government. But this sort of thing was not uncommon in his day. There were few institutes to finance ambitious but impecunious scientific researchers.
Maclay was by no means the only European to live amicably with an Oceanic people in the late 19th century. Traders, planters, and missionaries provided comparable examples. But his attitudes towards these non-Europeans were well ahead of his time. Above all, he showed the greatest courage in the face of uncertainty and illness. At Bongu, where he laid the foundation of his reputation, he was able to bluff potential miscreants with a few magical tricks. His worst offence was that, when accepted, he made serious demands on the people to accompany him on his numerous exploratory expeditions. He never shrank from firm action when he deemed it essential. He could play the masta or the tuan. In West New Guinea and Malaya, where the people were at times more recalcitrant, he did not hesitate to draw his revolver to make his point. We should not jump to condemn or criticise but imagine ourselves placed in the same situation at that time. Stable, secure colonial and national rule was something for the future. A person had to stand his ground to survive.
Yet what really distinguished Maclay from other visitors to Oceania in the late 19th century was his complete lack of pecuniary interest in its inhabitants. Certainly he was paternalist but what else could he be at that time? His aim was to protect “his” people. This was the measure of his personal integrity. It was the basis of his plea to the Tsar to implement his Maclay Coast Scheme and of his telegram to Bismarck. It was also a measure of his naïveté. He knew so little about - 541 the Bongu people and the problems of colonial administration that, even under the most benign of Tsars, his scheme would inevitably have collapsed. History, perhaps, turned out to his advantage. Had things gone otherwise — had the Tsar granted his request — he might have been remembered at Bongu not as the indulgent Tibud Maclay but as the god that failed.
In a word, Miss Webster is to be congratulated on an excellent book. Every student of Pacific affairs must read it. She has told us a great deal about a most interesting yet complex character. What is equally important, she has shed much light on the late colonial history of the Antipodes.
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