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By Marilyn Strathern

Within the most unique and bold synthesis but undertaken in Melanesian scholarship, Marilyn Strathern argues that gender kinfolk were a specific casualty of unexamined assumptions held via Western anthropologists and feminist students alike. The ebook treats with equivalent seriousness--and with equivalent strong humor--the insights of Western social technological know-how, feminist politics, and ethnographic reporting, so that it will reconsider the illustration of Melanesian social and cultural existence. This makes The Gender of the reward essentially the most sustained opinions of cross-cultural comparability that anthropology has obvious, and one in all its so much lively vindications.

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The gender of the gift: problems with women and problems with society in Melanesia

Within the most unusual and bold synthesis but undertaken in Melanesian scholarship, Marilyn Strathern argues that gender kinfolk were a selected casualty of unexamined assumptions held via Western anthropologists and feminist students alike. The publication treats with equivalent seriousness--and with equivalent strong humor--the insights of Western social technology, feminist politics, and ethnographic reporting, with the intention to reconsider the illustration of Melanesian social and cultural lifestyles.

Extra info for The gender of the gift: problems with women and problems with society in Melanesia

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As he notes subsequently, the chief channels for prestige "distinguish and elevate the names of men, not women" (1984b:117). Quite aside from the respective powers or influences that each sex possesses lies the unexamined nature of the opposition and exclusions symbolized in the Tombema difference between men's and women's activities. However unfortunate an analytic idiom, the image of 'domains' captures part of a global categorization that (in the case of Highlands people) extends a difference between the sexes to differences in their scope for social action.

That particular notion of structure belonged to a theoretical page_51 Page 52 tradition also concerned to specify the conditions of social integration. 7 In the absence of indigenous preoccupations with legal rights and statuses, the study of groups in the Papua New Guinea Highlands became very much a study of group solidarity. And it was precisely those areas of activity demarcated as 'process'ritual and male-female relationsthat offset the whole issue of solidarity. As Wagner (1974) observed, anthropologists consequently set about making Highlanders' problems their own.

From one viewpoint, the controversy over nonagnates remained a formal matter, a question of the propriety of the concept of unilineal descent. That claims to group membership could be made on the basis of ties traced through mothers, as well as fathers, affected analytical page_50 Page 51 decisions about the nature of group constitution more than it did the perception of Highlands group solidarity. After all, one of the contentious points was that such solidarity was promoted regardless of lineality.

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