Mangrove Man

Mangrove Man : Dialogics of Culture in the Sepik Estuary

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This was the first modern ethnography of the Murik, a relatively large and important community settled on the Sepik River estuary in Papua New Guinea, and the only book of a non-Western culture drawing on the conceptual framework of the Russian literary theorist, Mikhail Bakhtin. Murik men, who exercise political power, conceptualize women as the source of nurture, generosity and love. This conceptualization creates for men a kind of existential problem, and their claim to sustain and reproduce society requires them to appropriate the nurturant qualities of women. So they must, in some sense, model certain aspects of themselves after women. A 'maternal schema' or poetics of the female body', therefore underlines the sociocultural patterns of these societies. This schema expresses itself in a range of societal domains: in kinship relations, life-cycle rituals, the men's cults, and in disputes and processes of conflict resolution. The issues discussed tie in with some of the major contemporary debates in the social sciences: the relationship between ideas of male and female power.
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Product details

  • Online resource
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 30 b/w illus. 4 maps 17 tables
  • 1139166867
  • 9781139166867

Review quote

'Mangrove man is a powerful and compelling addition to the theoretical repertoire which has been brought to bear on Melanesian gender, ritual and politics.' Canberra Anthropology
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Table of contents

1. Introduction; Part I. Dialogics of the Maternal Schema and the Uterine Body: 2. A Predicament in space; 3. The maternal schema and the uterine body; 4. The heraldic body; 5. Who succeeded Ginau?; Part II. Dialogics of the Maternal Schema and the Cosmic Body of Man: 6. A body more carnal; 7. The sexuality and aggression of the cosmic body; Part III. Dialogics of the Maternal Schema in Social Control: 8. Conflict and reproduction of society; 9. Social control and law.
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