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Cultural Anthropology

Impact factor: 2.49 5-Year impact factor: 3.045 Print ISSN: 0886-7356 Online ISSN: 1548-1360 Publisher: Wiley Blackwell (Blackwell Publishing)

Subject: Anthropology

Most recent papers:

  • Observations of red‐giant variable stars by Aboriginal Australians.
    Duane W. Hamacher.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. October 11, 2017
    Aboriginal Australians carefully observe the properties and positions of stars, including both overt and subtle changes in their brightness, for subsistence and social application. These observations are encoded in oral tradition. I examine two Aboriginal oral traditions from South Australia that describe the periodic changing brightness in three pulsating, red‐giant variable stars: Betelgeuse (Alpha Orionis), Aldebaran (Alpha Tauri), and Antares (Alpha Scorpii). The Australian Aboriginal accounts stand as the only known descriptions of pulsating variable stars in any Indigenous oral tradition in the world. Researchers examining these oral traditions over the last century, including anthropologists and astronomers, missed the descriptions of these stars as being variable in nature as the ethnographic record contained several misidentifications of stars and celestial objects. Arguably, ethnographers working on Indigenous Knowledge Systems should have academic training in both the natural and social sciences
    October 11, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12257   open full text
  • Tunnel Vision: Part One – Resisting post‐colonialism in Australian anthropology.
    Gillian Cowlishaw.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. August 01, 2017
    This essay is based on my conviction that Australian ethnography's narrow purview and anthropology's theoretical limitations need exploring and explaining. While internationally the discipline developed new sites, new theoretical fields and new political ideas in the post‐colonial era from around 1970, classicism continued to dominate research in Australia. New forms of Aboriginal social life and politics created by changing ‘post‐colonial’ conditions largely escaped ethnographic attention, but anthropology was rescued from irrelevance with the emergence of opportunities to assist the courts and Aborigines with land retrievals. By examining selected ethnographies and exceptions to the discipline's main trajectory, I hope to encourage reflection and expansion so that the discipline might realise its potential as the most radical and critical of the social sciences.
    August 01, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12242   open full text
  • Benedictine Monastic Communitas in Wartime Central Vietnam (1954–75).
    Jeremy Jammes.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. July 26, 2017
    This article focuses on the question of the establishment of a Catholic monastic tradition, shaped by its Western creation and subsequent exportation to an Asian society. In 1954 the French Benedictine Congregation of St. Bathilde of Vanves founded a monastery in Central Vietnam. The circumstances of the Vietnam war, coupled with a holistic implementation plan instigated by the nuns, enabled the establishment of a small, but sedentary and durable, community, organised within Benedictine structures involving a girls’ hostel, plantation agriculture and catechism instruction. Choosing a life of self‐denial alongside the indigenous people, they eventually formed a ‘Benedictine community village’, implementing a non‐monastic but austere and disciplined life. However, these Benedictine nuns continuously self‐transformed and re‐defined themselves vis‐à‐vis their ‘spiritual tradition’. The pursuit of a life of interiority produced a form of rupture with older forms of evangelisation and with established clergy, reflecting the way in which these nuns conceived their alternative role in the Benedictine tradition. I interrogate here the Benedictine ascetic form and the place given by the Order to new alternative subjectivities.
    July 26, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12240   open full text
  • Struggling for cultural survival: Hungarian identity discourses in the face of assimilation.
    Petra Andits.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. July 10, 2017
    The Hungarian immigrant community in Australia is struggling with cultural survival. The diaspora has experienced a general decline in community participation as a result of the aging of the émigré population and the rapid assimilation of subsequent generations. Using data derived from the series of annual community‐organised conferences called Megmaradásunk Konferenciák, this article compares the different discourses articulated by community leaders in Australia seeking to preserve and strengthen the diaspora community. I examine how newly emerged narratives of ‘diaspora death’ and cultural survival are debated and how possibilities of strengthened connections with Hungary have impacted these discussions.
    July 10, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12241   open full text
  • Reflections on an Anglophone academic sect.
    Chris Hann.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 28, 2017
    While saluting the ethnographic originality of the contents of this special issue and the ambition of its editors to extend recent debates in the anthropology of Christianity to large Catholic populations in Asia, the author argues that the contributors remain in thrall to Protestant tenets of rupture and individualism. He urges more balanced coverage of the diversity of Christian communities and more attention to a long history of anthropological engagement with them.
    June 28, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12239   open full text
  • In search of the Solemn with Sri Lankan migrant priests.
    Bernardo E. Brown.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 21, 2017
    The declining number of religious vocations joining Catholic seminaries in Italy has encouraged some dioceses to hire migrant religious workers to compensate for the lack of clergy available for parish work. Although initially approached as a temporary solution, an unforeseen consequence of this policy has been the emergence of congenial relationships between migrant priests and Italian parishioners, who often describe their bond as deeply spiritual. This article examines the experiences of Sri Lankan priests who work in Italy, highlighting the distinct emphasis that they place on reaching out to the communities that they work with. Through fieldwork conducted in Sri Lanka and Italy, I analyse how South Asian priests use concepts such as devotion and sincerity to explain how their approach to the priesthood makes a ‘solemn’ difference that is celebrated by local parishioners. With an explicit focus on pastoral work, this form of Asian Catholicism emphasises the importance of bodily comportment, ceremonial poise and ritual dignity, capturing the yearnings of Catholic laities avid for devotional celebrations capable of re‐connecting them to the spiritually meaningful aspects of their faith. My work draws lines of connection between the historical, theological and pedagogical underpinnings of Sri Lankan Catholicism and the affective responses that South Asian priests elicit in Europe.
    June 21, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12233   open full text
  • Beyond methodological agnosticism: Ritual, healing, and Sri Lanka's civil war.
    Kaori Hatsumi.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 19, 2017
    In April 2010, eleven months after the end of Sri Lanka's civil war, I participated in the Catholic Easter rite in a Tamil fishing village in the Vanni, where the last battle between the Sri Lankan government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was fought. This article explores the way in which the ritual enactments of the paschal mystery, called pasch, came to have enormously therapeutic effects for the survivors during Holy Week. The decisive factors in the villagers’ Easter experience included: the nature of the orthodox rite and accompanying local traditions, the unique historical context in which they found themselves, and their readiness to receive healing and start a new life. The article calls for the abandonment of methodological agnosticism in order for us to understand the villagers’ religious experiences, and contributes to the emerging field of ‘post‐secular’ anthropology.
    June 19, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12235   open full text
  • Projecting order in the pericolonial Philippines: An anthropology of Catholicism beyond Catholics.
    Oona Paredes.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 19, 2017
    In a majority Catholic country like the Philippines, it can be difficult to appreciate the true impact of Catholicism, beyond the obvious presence of Catholics. For the ‘unchristianised’ indigenous minorities in its peripheral upland regions, the role of the Catholic thought‐world in shaping who they are today is masked substantially by their cultural distinctiveness. Missionary‐dominated narratives in colonial historiography configure our understanding of the present, structuring our approach to anthropology in these peripheral spaces. This article argues that the diachronic component is necessary to make sense of how Catholicism has not only shaped the diversity of modern Philippine cultures, but also how it has configured cultural and political spaces so completely that, as anthropologists, we at times reproduce this thought‐world uncritically through our own ethnographies. A focus on the so‐called unchristianised Lumad ethnic minorities of Mindanao argues that it is essential to look beyond Catholics as obvious subjects when undertaking an anthropology of Catholicism.
    June 19, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12234   open full text
  • Configuring Catholicism in the anthropology of Christianity.
    Bernardo Brown, R. Michael Feener.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 13, 2017
    In order to better understand diverse configurations of Catholicism in relation to the contemporary anthropology of Christianity, we need to develop more dynamic models to interpret the interaction between the material of particular ethnographic accounts and the continual recalibration of broader cultural and theological paradigms involved in their framing and analysis. Building upon the growing body of work that has been produced in both the ethnography of Catholic communities and the critical reflection on theoretical dimensions of the new project of the anthropology of Christianity, we hope to nudge conversations toward more integrated explorations between these two lines of enquiry. The research presented in the articles included in this special issue collectively suggests that turning the ethnographic lens toward Asian Catholicism can serve to substantially enrich conversations with new empirical material on modern forms of religiosity. Well beyond that, moreover, critical engagement with such dynamic, theologically sophisticated, aesthetically complex, and socially engaged traditions can inform constructive critiques of the mainstream account of Anthropology's approach to the study of Christianity.
    June 13, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12230   open full text
  • Modern Asian ecclesiastical interconnections: Catholic Tamil Nadu and its diaspora in Malaysia.
    Shanthini Pillai.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 11, 2017
    This paper explores the dynamics of the modern Asian Catholic ecclesiastical experience in Malaysia within the context of diaspora. Using the South Indian Tamil Catholic community in Malaysia as a case in point, I explore the mediations that occur in ecclesiastical spaces as a result of the points of contact between Catholic Tamil Nadu and its diaspora in Malaysia. Through an analysis of two festivals of ethnic Tamil heritage, the Feast of Our Lady of Good Health and the Pongal Festival, in a predominantly Tamil parish community, the discussion will show how the interactions between ethnicity, culture, and the Catholic Tamil diaspora in Malaysia foreground a sinuous interweaving of the threads of continuity, adaptation and dialogue. I also attempt to extend the investigation a little further to show instances of subtle differences that emerge as a result of the diasporic relocation of vernacular Catholicism inherited from South India. The latter subsequently reveal the modern Asian ecclesiastical interconnections that occur as South Indian Catholicism is practised within its national Malaysian Catholic context.
    June 11, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12232   open full text
  • Hesukristo superstar: Entrusted agency and passion rituals in the Roman Catholic Philippines.
    Julius Bautista.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 08, 2017
    In this article I draw from ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2010 and 2013 in San Pedro Cutud, a village located in the Philippine province of Pampanga. The focus is on the performance of the Via Crucis y Passion y Muerte, a passion play held there every year on Good Friday. Central to the play is the individual pursuit of panata, or divine pledge, by the cast of around forty actors, and particularly by the play's main protagonist: the Kristo, who is nailed to a cross in front of tens of thousands of spectators. In the first part, I describe how the cast engages in the production of a particular theatrical aesthetic that is coterminous with the embodied pursuit of their respective appeals for divine intervention. In the latter portion, I focus on the act of nailing as a context for the formation of intersubjective bonds of trust, or tiuala ya lub, between the Kristo, and his ritual associates. By describing how rituals of pain are premised upon the shareability and entrustedness of ritual agency, I situate the ethnographic data on passion rituals in relation to wider discussions about the anthropological turn to affect.
    June 08, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12231   open full text
  • The embodiment of sorcery: Supernatural aggression, belief and envy in a remote Aboriginal community.
    Victoria Burbank.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. March 20, 2017
    Anthropologists have long attempted to come to grips with Indigenous Australian sorcery beliefs and especially with the idea that acts with no understandable efficacy bring about illness and death. In this ethnographic interpretation of sorcery beliefs in the remote community of Numbulwar, I follow those few who have attempted to find a link between these apparently harmless acts and real physiological consequences, arguing that the fear of sorcery that pervades Numbulwar contributes directly to the stress of daily life and indirectly to the premature morbidity and mortality of too many lives. Belief is posited as the mechanism whereby the human stress response is activated to a harmful extent, a process in which the projection of envious feelings may often be critical.
    March 20, 2017   doi: 10.1111/taja.12228   open full text
  • The morality of mweki: Performing sexuality in the ‘Islands of Love’.
    Michelle MacCarthy.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. April 26, 2016
    Trobriand dance is a key cultural expression and a means of communicating subjectivity in a number of ways: it expresses aspects of kinship, gender, morality, and ideas about modernity and primitivity. In a region with a long history of Christian missions, coupled with a recent ‘Revival’ brought about by the arrival of Pentecostal forms of worship, certain dances come to be key markers of particular moral positions. Primary among these is the Tapioca Dance, famed far beyond the Trobriands, but problematic in local discourses and practice. This paper examines the ways in which such dances make sexuality public, and why this is such a concern for ‘Revived’ (and other) Christian Trobriand Islanders.
    April 26, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12191   open full text
  • The Mothers’ Union goes on strike: Women, tapa cloth and Christianity in a Papua New Guinea society.
    John Barker, Anna‐Karina Hermkens.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. April 21, 2016
    This paper explores the story of the formation and subsequent activities of a church women's group in Maisin villages and women's experiences of Christianity more broadly, in relation to the changing production and uses of traditional bark cloth (tapa), a signature women's product which has become a marker of Maisin identity. While the influence of the local Mothers’ Union has waxed and waned over the past 60 years, tapa cloth has had a continuing influence upon its fortunes. Tapa cloth has been the chief means for church women to raise funds to support their activities and the local church. However, we argue that, more fundamentally, tapa has shaped women's gendered Christian identities, experiences and history, mediating relationships with men, between generations of women, and with various sorts of ‘missionaries’ who have often justified their intrusions in terms of improving women's lives.
    April 21, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12193   open full text
  • Henry has arisen: Gender and hierarchy in Vanuatu's Anglican Church.
    Craig Lind.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. April 21, 2016
    Although Christianity and kastom can be opposed in many important respects, ni‐Vanuatu are far from limited by the different opportunities that they each offer. Here, I draw on gender as an ethnographically derived form of description to stress that the relations composing encounters of Christianity and kastom, church leader and chief, allow ni‐Vanuatu to imagine and create possibilities for engaging these alternatives in order to share, exchange or take on their specific capacities. I consider the example of an event in which a Church leader offered to extend an emplaced island identity, through the Anglican Church, in exchange for a kastom chief's assistance to scale‐up the appearance of his clan support during his ordination ceremony. In this case gendered difference, and not opposition or conflict, characterises kastom and Christianity's relationship.
    April 21, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12195   open full text
  • Church presence and gender relations in the Wonenara valley (Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea).
    Pascale Bonnemère.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. April 21, 2016
    Since 1951, date of the First contact, the Baruya of the Wonenara valley have twice been a pioneering frontline for Protestant missions. First in the 1960s, when several Lutheran and SDA pastors moved in, and the second time at the beginning of the 2000s, when three ‘New Evangelical Churches’ settled in the valley. After presenting the history of the presence of these five Churches, I analyse the pastors’ ideas, as expressed during services or in informal discussions, about the place of women in daily life and in church, and about gender relations more generally. The observation of church services reveals a possibility of women speaking in public that was hitherto unknown. Moreover, the pastors’ origins (Baruya or non Baruya) seem to play a role in the way they talk about women during their services, whatever their Church may say.
    April 21, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12194   open full text
  • Reforming men: Pentecostalism and masculinity in Papua New Guinea.
    Richard Eves.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. April 15, 2016
    The basic premise of this paper is that oppressive and violent behaviour is not an essential aspect of the male identity. Seeking to comprehend the underlying causes of violence, specifically against women but also more generally, this paper examines some of the alternative ways of being a man that have accompanied Christianity. Through observation of some Pentecostals from New Ireland, I have concluded that new ways of being a man that are less oppressive and dominating for women are emerging. This phenomenon I argue is a step towards gender equality, since it involves creating more caring and equitable relationships and a step towards reducing violence both against women and in the community, since it embraces non‐violent ways of being a man. Particularly useful in analysing the process of reforming men is Foucault's work on governmentality since it relates well to the Pentecostal emphasis on radical change in being ‘born again’. Conversion for born‐again Christians is more than simply abandoning sin; rather it involves the creation of a new self and becoming a new person. Similarly, Foucault argues that the individual practises the art of self‐governance in re‐forming her or himself as she or he desires.
    April 15, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12196   open full text
  • Eating money: Narratives of equality on customary land in the context of natural resource extraction in the Solomon Islands.
    Michelle Dyer.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. April 05, 2016
    Why do Solomon Islands’ villagers continue to engage with large scale logging projects by foreign companies when they have decades of experience of the disadvantages of such deals? This paper explores village level narratives of equality surrounding a logging dispute in a village on Kolombangara Island in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. Drawing on empirical evidence I seek to understand firstly, why villagers continue to engage with logging companies, and secondly, why seemingly viable and financially attractive alternative forestry projects may not be taken up. Additionally, I examine legal recognition of a local conservation Non‐Government organisation as an environmental ‘stakeholder’, with an accepted interest in customary land as distinct from the categorisation of ‘landowners’. I conclude that village communities may continue to engage with foreign logging companies, despite their clear knowledge of the disadvantages of such projects, partly as a means of maintaining some measure of social equality in the village.
    April 05, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12213   open full text
  • The importance of ‘tooglies’ to the ethnography of F.E. Williams, government anthropologist.
    Marta Rohatynskyj.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. March 28, 2016
    The theoretical orientation, encapsulated in the semi‐serious concept of ‘tooglies'of F.E. Williams, government anthropologist for the Territory of Papua in the inter‐war period, is considered. His ideas about culture change are contrasted with those of Bronislaw Malinowski, who acted as his mentor at one time. His treatment of the social organisational anomaly of Sogeri Koiari ‘sex affiliation’, often cited as a case of parallel bilineal descent, is compared with Margaret Mead's analysis of the ‘Mundugumor ropes’, which is classed as the opposite, cross‐sex bilineal descent. It is shown that Williams was able to get a clearer insight into this anomalous data than Mead and Fortune, and, on the whole, worked with an understanding of culture and Papuan social organisation that presages the relational approach of today.
    March 28, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12206   open full text
  • Unstable relations: a critical appraisal of indigeneity and environmentalism in contemporary Australia.
    Eve Vincent, Timothy Neale.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. March 21, 2016
    The 1970s witnessed the emergence of a protest‐based environmental movement in Australia. We outline here the history of the unstable meeting of environmentalism and Aboriginal interests, before turning to Marcia Langton's recent critique of the progressive ‘green left’ in Australia. We summarise Langton's argument: environmentalists would deny Aboriginal groups the benefits that flow from native title‐related agreements; environmentalists live at luxurious distance from the realities of remote and rural Aboriginal poverty and social problems; environmentalists exalt ‘noble savages’. We critique these claims on the basis that they pay inadequate attention to the structural inequities that underpin the market in native title interests and, further, deny the reality that Aboriginal groups often seek to form strategic alliances with green groups, arguing for conservation of their country on their own—or shared—terms. We argue that any appraisal of the present status of ‘green‐black’ relations needs to consider these factors seriously.
    March 21, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12186   open full text
  • Jural relations of middle‐class marriage and women as legal subjects in the imaginary of ‘new India’.
    Shalini Grover.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. March 11, 2016
    In India's capital New Delhi, four Family Courts were set up between 2009 and 2012, and 12 mediation institutions known as Crime Against Women Cells (CAW cells) were established during the same period. The Indian state has also endorsed gender‐equalising family legislation, mutual‐consent divorce and introduced new language of and for mediation. Together with India's projection of a rising global economy, these recent legal changes have engendered perceptions of a dramatic upturn in formal divorce and of women as liberal legal subjects. In the anthropology of Asia, marital practices have crucially informed our comprehension of modernisation, family formations and moral panics. This article explores the impact of new forms of legal availability on marriage, family and kinship among the metropolitan middle classes. It ethnographically engages with important structural shifts reflected in the intimate lives of Hindu couples, but also foregrounds a cautious narrative of newly imagined jural relations.
    March 11, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12188   open full text
  • What is wrong with ethics review, the impact on teaching anthropology, and how to fix it: results of an empirical study.
    L.L. Wynn.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. March 03, 2016
    There is no empirical evidence that ethics review protects anthropologists’ research participants, but there is ample evidence that it is stifling research agendas and reshaping how we teach anthropological research methods, entrenching a positivist, clinical model of what constitutes research. This paper examines the impact of ethics review on student research in Australia, based on interviews conducted at 14 Australian universities. The data clearly show that the risks posed by student research are minor, and vastly overestimated by ethics committees. To avoid problems with ethics committees, we shepherd students into undertaking low‐risk, and consequently low‐impact, research. Many departments are abandoning research‐led teaching altogether because of the obstacle of ethics review. One solution would be to locate ethics discussions in disciplines and departments, radically restructuring the encounter to reconceptualise it as collegial debate about ethics dilemmas rather than ‘ethics review’.
    March 03, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12187   open full text
  • Transnationalism and the Karen wrist‐tying ceremony: An ethnographic account of Karen settlement practice in Brisbane.
    Jessica N. Bird, Mark Brough, Leonie Cox.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. February 09, 2016
    When settling, people often use cultural schema from their original homeland to build familiarity in unfamiliar surrounds. This paper draws on ethnographic fieldwork conducted by the first author in Brisbane, with the Karen community from Burma, during which participant observation and interview methods were used. We present an ethnographic account of the Brisbane Karen wrist‐tying ceremony. The ceremony acts as an insight into the challenges for Karen whilst settling into Australia. It reflects multiple accounts of history and tradition, but simultaneously speaks to emerging, contemporary Karen contexts. This research contributes to richer understandings of settlement: it frames transnational cultural practice as a flexible mode of integration, rather than an exclusionary mode of othering. We propose that the integrative discourse of the ceremony creates familiarity and social connection in local and diasporic spaces. This acts as a counter to the challenges of Karen settlement including the negotiations of local/global identity politics.
    February 09, 2016   doi: 10.1111/taja.12176   open full text
  • Women, mobile phones, and M16s: Contemporary New Guinea highlands warfare.
    Fraser Macdonald, Jonathan Kirami.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. December 29, 2015
    This paper reports upon a series of recent developments in New Guinea highlands warfare. Building upon existing literature highlighting the deep influence of modernity within this context, we draw attention to two particular developments yet to be reported in the literature and which appear to be of special significance. Through an analysis of Aiya warfare, Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea, we document the direct and increasing involvement of women within warfare, as well as the important role played by mobile phones used by warriors to communicate before and during fighting. These two developments are situated in relation to broader shifts currently reshaping Melanesian sociality, namely, the ambivalent and fraught position of women within an emergent PNG society, as well as the rapid diffusion of mobile phone technology throughout the region.
    December 29, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12175   open full text
  • Mobility and emplacement in north coast Papua New Guinea: Worlding the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone.
    Victoria Stead.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. October 29, 2015
    On the north coast of Papua New Guinea, the construction of the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone is catalysing movements of people, capital and things, as well as of the ideas and imaginings which accompany and make them meaningful. Drawn from literary and postcolonial studies, the concept of worlding offers a narrative framework through which to think through these movements and the ways in which they complicate prevailing narratives of globalisation. At the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone, the neoliberal worldings that inform the project do not simply catalyse movements, but also act to impose barriers to movement. Local communities assert connection to place, but also generate new circuits of mobility, and rearticulate ideas of kastom (custom) that have movement at their core. An emphasis on worlding—drawing particularly on Heidegger's distinction between world and earth—allows for a more complex reflection on the relationship between mobility and emplacement, one that more fully illuminates the complexity of the relationship itself, and the way it is experienced at the PMIZ site.
    October 29, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12174   open full text
  • The value of work and ‘common discourse’ in the joint management of Kakadu National Park.
    Chris Haynes.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. October 29, 2015
    Joint management at Kakadu National Park has been marked by conflict and discontent among the major actors, its Traditional Aboriginal Owners and the White rangers (and other staff) of the state. Despite such conflict, and structured differences between these groups of actors, the park continues to function. In this article I argue that the structures and actions perpetuating difference and conflict are usually more or less balanced by opposing structures and actions that draw the two groups of actors together. I further argue that the most important of such cohering structures and actions, what I call ‘common discourse’, derives from the work that both Aboriginal and White rangers perform in the field. This form of under‐recognised discourse acts against the corrosive discourses of the separate groups that tend to perpetuate separateness.
    October 29, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12169   open full text
  • Ambivalent moralities of cooperation and corruption: Local explanations for (under)development on a Philippine island.
    Hannah C. M. Bulloch.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. October 16, 2015
    Concepts of development are inevitably loaded with value judgements concerning what constitutes ‘proper’ social and economic organisation. Focusing on the cultural politics of development on Siquijor, an island in the Central Visayas region of the Philippines, this paper explores these often tacit ideals. It considers one of the key idioms Siquijodnon use in explaining how development is brought about—cooperation—and some of its locally perceived opposites—‘crab mentality’, politicking and corruption—which contain powerful moral critiques of self and society. On Siquijor, local discourses of development have it that widespread poverty in the Philippines demonstrates a failing of Filipinos to live up to supposedly universal norms of ethical socio‐economic conduct. However, I argue that attention to local norms of moral economy reveal the ambivalence underlying these notions of development, particularly in relation to the roles of individualism and reciprocity in socio‐economic organisation.
    October 16, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12173   open full text
  • Driven to sanity: An ethnographic critique of the senses in automobilities.
    Andrew Dawson.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. October 08, 2015
    This article reviews critically approaches to embodiment and the senses in contemporary automobilities research, highlighting particularly their critical representation of sensory disengagement in driving. In contrast, through passenger‐seat ethnography conducted in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the article explores the roles of sensory engagement in driving in ameliorating post‐socialist and post‐war unease concerning namely identification, mistrust, insecurity and estrangement. Globally cars are the largest single item of consumer expenditure after housing, and the consequences of this are manifold and devastating. In this context it becomes pressingly important to understand why people drive as much as they do and, as part of this, how driving makes us feel. In order to achieve this automobilities research must, I argue, stand back from its disposition of critique and develop a more thoroughgoing ethnography of driving. Anthropology is beginning to provide this, albeit sparsely and belatedly. This article represents a contribution.
    October 08, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12168   open full text
  • Social circulation and consumption of breast cancer health information among Yamatji in Western Australia.
    Melanie Dembinsky.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. September 15, 2015
    Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in Australia, and other parts of the world, especially for women. Over the last few decades, more and more information has become available to the public about breast cancer. Throughout Yamatji country various formats for the dissemination of this information have been implemented, with varying degrees of success. Data collected as part of a doctoral research project on Yamatji breast cancer experiences shows that for information to be considered trustworthy and valid, it needs to be passed along social pathways that allow information ‘consumers’ to evaluate the information ‘provider’. Through this social circulation of health information, Yamatji actively engage and shape health information provision, as well as distribution. Likewise, by rejecting certain health information as untrustworthy, Yamatji assert agency in their self‐health management.
    September 15, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12167   open full text
  • ‘Do you have a mobile?’ Mobile phone practices and the refashioning of social relationships in Port Vila Town.
    Daniela Kraemer.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. September 08, 2015
    Mobile phones have quickly become an important part of young people's social relationships in Port Vila Vanuatu. In particular, young people embrace the new technology's capacity to broaden the breadth of their sociality. They use the mobile phone to facilitate private and secretive communication, engage in unsanctioned relationships, pre‐marital sexual relationships, and also multiple concurrent intimate relationships. Literature on mobile phone use often either takes the approach that mobile phone technology becomes purely incorporated into pre‐existing social practices, or that it dramatically reshapes social ontologies. The present article argues for an alternative view, one that takes into account the nuances between these two analytical poles. This article suggests that young people use the mobile phone in practices informed by previous models of social relationships, yet the specific materiality of the mobile phone technology is influencing the direction in which models of social relationships are changing. In demonstrating this point, I pay particular attention to two material aspects of the mobile phone technology ‐ the mobile phone as a repository of a particular kind of information ‐ ‘evidence’, and the capacity of the mobile phone to ‘disconnect’ people from their relationships by switching off the mobile. This article argues that these practices are influencing the emergence of a radically altered kinship and gender landscape in the urban context.
    September 08, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12165   open full text
  • The value of culturedness: Bosnian and Hungarian migrants' experiences of belonging in Australia.
    Lejla Voloder, Petra Andits.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. September 02, 2015
    In this paper we investigate how the values of respect and dignity inform the ways migrants from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Hungary in Australia locate themselves in relation to local, national and transnational identities. Drawing upon ethnographic insights, we discuss how the concept of culturedness is implicated in these migrant claims for dignified belonging. Determinants of culturedness are informed by influential narratives of ‘East versus West’, ‘Balkan versus Europe’, the ‘New World (Australia) versus the Old World’ (Europe). Implicit within these discourses are attempts to demarcate civilisational distinctions. We argue that dignified belonging for people from these migrant communities in Australia involves negotiating identification with culturedness and positioning themselves on the right side of the civilised/primitive divide. This collaboration draws attention to the significance of ontological security through respect within the shared discourses and experiences of belonging for members of these two migrant groups in Australia.
    September 02, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12164   open full text
  • ‘That photo in my heart’: Remembering Yayayi and self‐determination.
    Melinda Hinkson.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. August 24, 2015
    There is no abstract available for this paper.
    August 24, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12160   open full text
  • Bloody time revisited: New observations on time in a Papua New Guinea Village.
    Michael French Smith.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. August 01, 2015
    In a 1982 paper I argued that perceptions of time scarcity in Kragur Village, Papua New Guinea, in the mid‐1970s were best understood as a reaction to new forms of authority characteristic of the growth of capitalism and calls for greater time order were grounded largely in its perceived ritual significance. More than forty years later, villagers are much more familiar with Western time, but less likely to perceive time as scarce. As in the 1970s, aspiring leaders still press for greater time order. Millenarian illusions informed advocacy of time order in the 1970s. Although today these illusions are, if not extinct, then dormant, unquestioned assumptions mirroring Western capitalist views of time inspire many of today's advocates. Yet, lacking the authority to impose new forms of time order, they have little effect on the rhythms of village life, and economic incentives to abandon comparative indifference to time remain weak.
    August 01, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12151   open full text
  • Colonial and postcolonial museum collecting in Papua New Guinea.
    David Lipset.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. August 01, 2015
    This essay contrasts early and later colonial collecting by anthropologists and museum scientists in Melanesia with the postcolonial collecting in which I participated in the 1980s under the auspices of the Australian Museum (1987). My contention is that museum collections made during early colonialism took place in a relatively hierarchical and androcentric context of moral difference. In subsequent phases of the colonial era, as well as in the ongoing postcolonial period, anthropological collecting sought, and continues to seek, egalitarian and gender inclusive dialogue with vendors; in part by drawing from local metaphors and idioms to express status inclusivity.
    August 01, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12149   open full text
  • Language in fieldwork: Making visible the ethnographic impact of the researcher's linguistic fluency.
    Danau Tanu, Laura Dales.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. July 31, 2015
    This paper analyses the impact of the researcher's linguistic fluency or competence (or lack thereof) on the data collection process during fieldwork and subsequent analysis. We focus on researcher interaction with the field in a largely monolingual setting in Japan, and the multilingual setting of an international school in Indonesia. Researcher positionality during fieldwork shifts with their (perceived) linguistic fluency, which in turn affects the data. Despite the emphasis on reflexive ethnography, anthropological research rarely interrogates the impact of the researcher's linguistic fluency on the field. We attribute this silence to the perception that highlighting researcher language ability may compromise their ethnographic authority. In this paper we use self‐reflexivity to make visible the ethnographic impact that the researcher's language ability has on fieldwork processes. We argue that being self‐reflexive about our linguistic fluency, or lack thereof, does not necessarily compromise our analysis.
    July 31, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12150   open full text
  • Going feral: Wild meat consumption and the uncanny in Melbourne, Australia.
    Catie Gressier.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. July 15, 2015
    Feral animals are commonly constructed as the scourge of the Australian landscape. The transgressive act of introduced, domestic animals going wild elicits strong emotive responses within the community, often conceived in a kind of Freudian spectre of das unheimliche (the uncanny/unhomely), as the once familiar becomes uncontrolled, strange and frightening. Meanwhile, exponential global growth in human populations, and the resulting strain on the environment and food security, is necessitating the rethinking of meat consumption. In Australia, while the stigma surrounding feral animals has historically inhibited their consumption, feral meat is regarded by a growing body of advocates as an environmentally favourable alternative to farmed meat, allowing not only the avoidance of animal suffering within the industrial agriculture model, but also benefitting ecosystems through the removal of damage‐wreaking interlopers. This paper explores the feral turn and its contemporary manifestations as a growing food movement in Melbourne.
    July 15, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12141   open full text
  • Emplacement and resistance: Social and political complexities in development‐induced displacement in Papua New Guinea.
    Susan R. Hemer.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. July 15, 2015
    This paper argues that attending to social and political factors in development‐induced displacement is critical even for projects that involve resettlement of small populations. Taking the resettlement of two villages by the Lihir Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea as a unique case study, I analyse why one village was relatively successfully resettled, while the other has been very complicated, leading to hostility and conflict. In these cases the initial focus of all concerned in reaching a resettlement agreement was on the adequacy of compensation and housing, which mimicked the focus in the literature during the 1990s on impoverishment and compensation. From the late 1990s there have been calls for greater attention to social and political aspects of displacement and resettlement. Early attention to these factors in the Lihir case, particularly the key concepts of emplacement and disemplacement, would have highlighted flaws in the resettlement agreement and would have made it easier to avert the conflict and resistance that arose.
    July 15, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12142   open full text
  • Pikisi kwaiyai! (pictures tonight!): The screening and reception of ethnographic film in the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea.
    Andrew J Connelly.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. July 14, 2015
    Ethnographic films hold great historical value for the communities in which they were filmed, yet people in source communities often lack access to them. Visitors engaging in ‘visual repatriation’ of ethnographic film can enrich both sides of the ethnographic exchange. I review my experiences screening ethnographic films with Trobriand Islanders, their reactions, and the various ways in which local communities regain ownership of these films, including re‐narration and renaming. My findings reiterate how source communities' reception of, and uses for, ethnographic film can sharply differ from the filmmakers' original agenda.
    July 14, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12144   open full text
  • Magico‐spiritual power, female sexuality and ritual sex in Muslim Java: Unveiling the kesekten of magical women.
    Bianca J. Smith, Mark Woodward.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. July 14, 2015
    This article argues that in practice, concepts of magico‐spiritual power (Javanese: kesekten; Indonesian: kesaktian) are linked with sexuality, particularly female sexuality, in some segments of contemporary Central and East Javanese Muslim society. Few scholars have turned attention to the interconnectedness of these seemingly contradictory topics. Feminist studies tend to focus on the ways in which women locate themselves within and critique Sharia‐based discursive and social orders, without considering the roles that magico‐spiritual power and associated practices play in these Islamic systems or in Islam in a more general sense. Similarly, male scholarship that considers the cultural relevance of Islam and magic rarely refers to gendered and sexual dimensions as praxis from a feminist perspective. By drawing on examples of ‘magical women’ including the Javanese spirit queen of the southern ocean Gusti Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, the historical Hindu figure Ken Dedes, and contemporary ritual sex practices at a Muslim saint's grave, we show how women, female spiritual beings and female sexuality, and sexuality in general, can be considered sources of magico‐spiritual power in Muslim Java. Our arguments conclude that in Javanese Islam, transgression of Sharia sexual norms can be both a sign and a source of magico‐spiritual power.
    July 14, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12140   open full text
  • Contested value and an ethics of resources: Water, mining and indigenous people in the Atacama Desert, Chile.
    Sally Babidge.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. May 12, 2015
    The question of value is fundamental to contexts of resource scarcity given that contest over use and distribution of scarce resources centres on judgments about rights, interests and access. In mining processes, the use and extraction of water in great volumes commodifies and threatens supplies of what others understand to be a substance essential to all forms of life. In the Atacama, while industrial extraction and commodification by the mining industry are the basis for indigenous people's contestations over water resources, an analysis of everyday water practice and performance (as ‘ordinary ethics’) demonstrates that an indigenous ethics of resources includes commodity values under certain conditions. This paper examines a field of competing actors engaging in extraction and use of scarce waters in order to make an argument for the importance of considering the complexities and dynamics of ethical practice and water value.
    May 12, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12139   open full text
  • Mobility, white bodies and desire: Euro‐American women in Jakarta.
    Anne‐Meike Fechter.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. May 12, 2015
    This paper illustrates how cultural logics of desire are being transformed in the context of the global economy refashioning intimate lives. Exploring the experiences of Euro‐American female professionals in Jakarta, it suggests that they become uncomfortably visible as ‘white bodies’; their desirability appears compromised, especially given Orientalist discourses which valorise Asian women's bodies. At the same time, women's position as well‐paid employees generates a contradictory logic of desire: the ‘ego‐boost’ they experience at work may intensify their demands on the masculinity and enlightened views of potential partners, thus rendering Indonesian men, with their perceived bodily effeminacy and ‘traditional values’ unattractive. As one response to the lack of desirability, some women engage in a moral discourse that casts Indonesian women whom they consider ‘bargirls’, as well as the Euro‐American men they attract, as morally deficient. The paper thus provides an alternative perspective on reconfigurations of desire in the context of global gendered mobility.
    May 12, 2015   doi: 10.1111/taja.12138   open full text
  • Communication technology and social life: Transformation and continuity, order and disorder.
    Jonathan Paul Marshall, Tanya Notley.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 01, 2014
    Anthropology is now developing and using ethnography to research uses and experiences of digital communication technology (including mobile phones, the internet, and software), in and across many different cultures and societies. Ethnography enables a focus on the complex intertwining of society, culture and technology allowing us to see how technologies are being transformed by existing modes of life, while simultaneously having a ‘messy’ influence over those lives, resulting in what are often unexpected consequences. This special issue discusses the use of mobile phones in Papua New Guinea and along the borders of Haiti and the Dominican Republic; the mixture of phone and internet usage in Central Australia and among the Tongan Diaspora in Melbourne; the use of internet based video translation practices focused on West Papuan politics; and the disorder produced by software in work environments in Australia. Collectively, these papers help us to reimagine ethnography and challenge conventional theorising of technology by allowing us to discuss the relationships between communication and power in diverse contexts, opening up opportunities for us to engage with and explore the significance of both order and disorder in technologically mediated social processes.
    June 01, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12084   open full text
  • The role of mobile phones in the mediation of border crossings: A study of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
    Heather A. Horst, Erin B. Taylor.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 01, 2014
    This article draws upon recent work among Haitian migrants living at the Haitian‐Dominican border in order to examine the role of mobile phones in cross‐border movement in the region. Like other migrants and displaced populations, Haitians use technologies such as mobile phones to keep in touch with their families and maintain social relations as well as organising economic activities and the circulation of remittances. Yet the dependence of Haitian workers on geographic mobility for work and livelihood also requires developing and maintaining relationships across borders. The focus upon understanding relationships formed within and beyond the southern border region of Haiti and the Dominican Republic seeks to make ethnographically visible the role of the mobile phone in mediating different forms of mobility.
    June 01, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12086   open full text
  • Using video and online subtitling to communicate across languages from West Papua.
    Alexandra Crosby, Tanya Notley.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 01, 2014
    In this paper we examine mediated practices and experiences of online translation and subtitling. Our paper is based on a collaboration with EngageMedia − a not‐for‐profit organisation based in Australia and Indonesia − and is specifically focused on its work in West Papua. We argue that the video‐hosting and online subtitling that is enabled through EngageMedia's websites, while mobilising West Papuan stories in a logical, relatively fast and organised manner, is embedded in a more messy socially‐mediated translation process that occurs across shifting scales (local, national, regional, and global), and a range of cultures (online, offline, local, global, networked). By examining this socially‐mediated process we identify the many ways in which ‘friction’ emerges and we conclude that for video to support multi‐lingual, translational communication and activism, social and technological infrastructures need to be further developed to avoid ‘restrictive frictions’ and create ‘productive’ ones.
    June 01, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12085   open full text
  • Shifting perceptions, shifting identities: Communication technologies and the altered social, cultural and linguistic ecology in a remote indigenous context.
    Inge Kral.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 01, 2014
    While a digital divide remains evident in many remote Indigenous Australian communities, individual and collective information and communication technologies practices have developed in accordance with broadband, satellite or WiFi availability. This article examines the ways in which Indigenous youth in remote Australia are ‘coming of age’ in contexts where digitally‐mediated social interaction is a taken‐for‐granted aspect of social practice, communication and learning. While there are many positive aspects to this rapid development, it can also lead to intergenerational tensions as young people explore new patterns of behaviour, and older people come to terms with new cultural challenges. Drawing on long‐term ethnographic observations in Central Australia, the impact of technology and the shift in perceptions, communication modes, and social and cultural practice across the generations in the Western Desert region are traced.
    June 01, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12087   open full text
  • The social (dis)organisation of software: Failure and disorder in information society.
    Jonathan Paul Marshall.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 01, 2014
    Software is a mode of ordering social, workplace, and individual activity. However, despite years of research by software engineers into requirements engineering (that is the gathering and evaluation of what is required from software by users) new software is renowned both for its failure rates and for the disruptions it causes. This article explores the interaction of new software, or new implementations of software, with the ongoing politics and dynamics of the ‘workspace’. In so doing it criticises common ideas that in information or network societies the technological infrastructure is robust and stable, that knowledge flow is positive and beneficial and that networks strengthen social resilience and rationality. The article is illustrated with observations of a software installation, together with interviews with those affected at various levels of different organisations in Australia and demonstrates that instability and disorder is inherently tied to processes of ordering by computers.
    June 01, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12088   open full text
  • Kinship, gender, and communication technologies: Family dramas in the Tongan diaspora.
    Makiko Nishitani.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 01, 2014
    When scholars of transnational studies examine communication technologies, they tend to focus on how the technologies help to maintain people's transnational ties. However, until recently, little attention has been given to the question of how the technologies become involved in conflicts in transnational contexts. Drawing on extensive fieldwork among Tongan migrants and their children in Australia, this article discusses how information, mediated by technologies, circulates and provokes ‘dramas’ among dispersed family members both in the diaspora and in Tonga. Such use of communication technologies is often further mediated by gender. Ethnographic descriptions of how mothers and daughters use communication technologies reveal interactive relationships between the technologies and people as well as culture.
    June 01, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12089   open full text
  • Ringing the living and the dead: Mobile phones in a Sepik society.
    Borut Telban, Daniela Vávrová.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 01, 2014
    Since Digicel services began to operate in remote areas of Papua New Guinea in mid‐2007, enthusiasm for mobile telecommunication devices has become a pan‐New Guinean phenomenon. During our last fieldwork period, between December 2010 and December 2011, no mobile phone network existed among the Karawari people in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. However, their expectations were high and some individuals had already purchased mobile phones, which they used as torches, radios, and cameras. In Ambonwari village, people were convinced that Digicel would soon build its tower on their land and enable them to ring both the living and the dead. The dead had already interfered with calls and some people were suspected of possessing phone numbers of their deceased relatives. In our article we explore the relationship between mobile phones, the increasing fascination with phone numbers, and the ways in which the Ambonwari perceive, interpret, and engage with the world.
    June 01, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12090   open full text
  • Pointing the Phone: Transforming Technologies and Social Relations among Warlpiri.
    Petronella Vaarzon‐Morel.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 01, 2014
    Many central Australian Aboriginal settlements have recently gained access to mobile phones and the Internet. This paper explores ways in which Aboriginal people engage with this technology outside of institutional settings. Drawing on long‐term research among Warlpiri, I reflect on people's responses to earlier communication media such as the two‐way radio and radio–telephone and compare them to patterns of use emerging around new technologies. Attending to the social landscape surrounding the uptake of new media and the social networking site ‘Divas Chat’, I consider how transformations in material structures of communication interact with changing demographics, embodied socio‐spatial relations, sorcery beliefs and mobility to reinforce, refigure and/or disrupt patterns of conflict and connectedness that hitherto have structured Warlpiri relational ontology. I suggest that the way people engage with these technologies illuminates and intensifies fault‐lines arising from contradictions between older established social orders and changing relations with the state and modernity.
    June 01, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12091   open full text
  • Why Alewai village needed a church: Some reflections on Christianity, conversion, and male leadership in south‐east Papua New Guinea.
    Deborah Van Heekeren.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. March 07, 2014
    In the Vula'a villages of south‐east Papua New Guinea, the experience of more than a century of Christianity has been incorporated into local understandings of identity and tradition. Church‐building (in both the architectural and ideological sense) is at the centre of village life. Even though it was a general policy of the London Missionary Society to build a church in every village in which conversion was undertaken, they did not build a church in the Vula'a village of Alewai. In 2001 the fact that Alewai did not have a church initiated a chain of events that draws attention to a situation of current relevance for Papua New Guinea, as evangelists no longer work to convert the ‘heathen’ but to convert Christians from one denomination to another. As a case study the article is focused on the pastors and deacons of the United Church and thus also serves to document some of the changes that have occurred in male leadership since the early colonial era.
    March 07, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12069   open full text
  • Female circumcision in multicultural Singapore: The hidden cut.
    Gabriele Marranci.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. February 27, 2014
    In recent years discussion about female genital mutilation (FGM) has expanded and the UN has recently called for a universal ban of the practice. The practice in Southeast Asia is widespread among Malay Muslims and, although different styles and practices exist, procedures conducted in medical clinics are extremely minor and, according to gynaecological research, have no effect on sexuality due to the clitoris being left totally untouched. One of the states in which Malay Muslims maintain such a tradition is Singapore. Nonetheless, Singapore is rarely mentioned in academic studies or even in reports discussing the ritual. Even inside Singapore, only Malays tend to know of the tradition, while other ethnic groups remain oblivious to the fact that Singapore is among the states that allow such an operation. The present article does not discuss FGM per se and avoids contributing to the diatribe about labels and values, although these are, of course, extremely relevant. Instead it focuses on the reasons for the practice remaining hidden and undiscussed in Singapore, so much so that some respondents did not know that they had been circumcised.
    February 27, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12070   open full text
  • Care and choice in dealing with the invasive cane toad in Western Australia.
    Jon Rasmus Nyquist.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. February 10, 2014
    This article examines the meeting between the community group Kimberley Toad Busters (KTB) and established science and government in terms of an intersection of two logics of engagement. A logic of choice and a logic of care meet in the first example where I look at the conflicts and tensions arising in a public forum on control of cane toads in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. The second part of the article presents two examples of KTB's own practices to demonstrate that the tension between the two logics also figures within these practices. Nature is enacted both similarly and differently in these events through the tension between the logic of care and the logic of choice. In the first instance the logics figure as mutually exclusive and generative of an expanding gulf between lay and scientific knowledge, while in the second the two emerge in an unfinished productive tension.
    February 10, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12072   open full text
  • The crisscrossed agency of a toast: Personhood, individuation and de‐individuation in Luzhou, China.
    Brian Harmon.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. February 10, 2014
    This article addresses debates over individuation in China through consideration of guanxi‐relational feasting in Luzhou, Sichuan. I draw on Ortner's theorisation of subjectivity and agency to probe the often taken‐for‐granted question of cultural personhood which informs social action. Although the social imaginary in Luzhou is increasingly colonised by symbolic individualism, I propose that dominant local notions of personhood and agency, operating within feast practice, continue to define this process. By attending to three aspects of Yan's ‘individualisation thesis’, I demonstrate how local models of person and agency are indispensible to a fuller understanding of social life. Considering the important role ritual speech habits (largely trained in de‐individuating feasting) continue to play in socialising actors to economic institutions and power relationships more generally, individuation in China today remains a largely nominal and aspirational, if symbolically potent and potentially transformative, project.
    February 10, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12073   open full text
  • Where all the rivers flow west: Maps, abstraction and change in the Papua New Guinea lowlands.
    Peter D. Dwyer, Monica Minnegal.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. February 06, 2014
    ‘Abstraction’ has been often identified as a key element in social change. Analyses, however, have often conflated the ideas of abstraction as ‘object’ and as ‘process’. This paper discusses two maps drawn by or on behalf of Kubo men, of the interior lowlands of southern Papua New Guinea. They were drawn in the context of recent exposure to a vast Liquefied Natural Gas project initiated on the land of their neighbours and both, as abstractions from new observations and experiences, were intended as assertions of rights to land. They derived, however, from entirely different logics: one more compatible with ‘Western’ understandings of ownership, the other more in keeping with earlier Kubo understandings of belonging. By reference to these maps, we consider the role of abstraction in social change and argue that while, as object, abstraction is relative as a process it is universal.
    February 06, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12071   open full text
  • Of cows and men: Nationalism and Australian cow making.
    Farida Fozdar, Brian Spittles.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. January 28, 2014
    This article explores why cows were identified as Australian in a public debate over the treatment of cattle in Indonesian abattoirs. Using a discursive approach applied to data extracted from media coverage, the article traces the debate, beginning with the ways Australian‐ness was constructed before moving on to consider the implications of this construction in relation to nationalism and rights. The article argues that making the cows Australian had two functions. By being treated as autochthonous they were presumed to hold a certain set of rights which justified interference in practices occurring in an independent sovereign nation. Second, the nationalism implicit in the rendering of animals as Australian functioned to contrast Australia's ‘civilisation’ with Indonesian (and Islam's) ‘barbarism’, allowing Australia to re‐assert a sense of itself as humanitarian. This was particularly relevant in a context where that humanity was in question due to Australia's treatment of asylum seekers.
    January 28, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12067   open full text
  • An Oceanic revolution? Stella and the construction of new femininities in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific.
    Ceridwen Spark.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. January 28, 2014
    In August 2012, a new magazine for women was released in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Entitled Stella, the magazine provides an ideal opportunity to analyse shifting constructions of gender among educated, employed women in PNG and elsewhere in the Pacific. Drawing on interviews, surveys and readers’ letters, this article discusses Papua New Guinean women who, because they display ‘modern attributes’, are maligned and discredited as ‘inauthentic’. It then goes on to document the ways in which Stella is enabling such women to assert themselves anew. Arguing that the publication of Stella marks the arrival into the public sphere of a group hitherto consigned to the margins of Pacific societies on the basis that they represent an ‘inauthentic minority’, the article makes an important contribution to scholarly discussion about the emergence of new femininities in PNG and the Pacific.
    January 28, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12066   open full text
  • Envy and egalitarianism in Aboriginal Australia: An integrative approach.
    Victoria Burbank.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. January 28, 2014
    The word ‘envy’ directs attention to feelings and cognitions that are especially important sources of information in our complicated sociality. As it is delimited by philosophers, economists, psychologists and others, envy is conceptually nested within a family that includes evil eye beliefs, inequity aversion, strong reciprocity and social comparison. Although the accumulation of work in these areas is substantial, anthropological treatments of envy are rare. Given repeated assertions of envy's universality and its potential importance for understanding widespread aspects of the human condition, a comparative eye seems essential. I present an account of ‘jealous’ in Aboriginal Australia via a framework that casts emotions as emerging from the interaction of psychobiological and sociocultural processes. According to this perspective, ‘envy’ should not be regarded as an invariant human condition but rather as a Western version of what, in a more generic human form, may both defend the individual and the larger sociality.
    January 28, 2014   doi: 10.1111/taja.12068   open full text
  • Transforming history and myth: On the mutuality and separation of shared narratives in Eastern Tibet.
    Gillian G. Tan.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 09, 2013
    Questioning the distinction between ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ societies, and an implied separation between myth and history, anthropologists have increasingly urged for an understanding of both myth and history as equally valid modes of shared social consciousness. This article takes up this point of view by referring to a written history of Lhagang, a town in Eastern Tibet; a history that appears to have the transformative content and oral circulation of myth. Using Lévi‐Strauss’ structural analysis of myth and Santos‐Granero's concept of topograms to demonstrate the mythemes that derive from the written history and circulate among Lhagang Tibetans, the article argues that, within the political and cultural context of Lhagang, myth and history shift in and out of indigenous categories even while being categorically distinct.
    June 09, 2013   doi: 10.1111/taja.12038   open full text
  • Symbolic dimensions of the anti‐opium campaign in Laos.
    Paul T. Cohen.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 09, 2013
    This article is concerned with the campaign to eradicate opium consumption and cultivation among highland minorities of northern Laos. The campaign has attracted political explanations that emphasise external pressure and enticements from the United States and the United Nations as part of the global War on Drugs. I argue that such explanations ignore the symbolic aspects of the domestic process of Laoisation in post‐socialist Laos that has marginalised ethnic minorities and has transformed opium into a key symbol of primitiveness and backwardness and into a fetishised cause of poverty.
    June 09, 2013   doi: 10.1111/taja.12037   open full text
  • On the persistence of sharing: Personhood, asymmetrical reciprocity, and demand sharing in the Indigenous Australian domestic moral economy.
    Nicolas Peterson.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 09, 2013
    This article addresses the persistence of sharing in Indigenous Australian domestic moral economies well after hunting and gathering has stopped being the basis of livelihood, by examining the relationship of demand sharing with the more formalised asymmetrical reciprocity found in both pre and post contact life. Understanding the significance of the more formalized asymmetry in the pre‐contact situation helps shed light on what happens in the post contact situation, and the independence of sharing from the impact of market forces and utilitarian need.
    June 09, 2013   doi: 10.1111/taja.12036   open full text
  • The social organisation of Wadeye's heavy metal mobs.
    John Mansfield.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 09, 2013
    The heavy metal mobs of Wadeye (notorious in the media as ‘heavy metal gangs’) are a new form of Aboriginal social organisation, almost entirely constituted by collateral kinship rather than descent relations. Dozens of overlapping mobs are each made up of sets of brothers and cousins, and are publicly symbolised by the name of a heavy metal band discovered via mass media. In contrast to recent Australianist anthropology that emphasises the fluidity of social structures and intercultural processes of identity formation, I argue that the metal mobs constitute a highly codified system of social organisation, and one in which non‐Aboriginal cultural influences are quite peripheral.
    June 09, 2013   doi: 10.1111/taja.12035   open full text
  • Knowing and the truth: Three histories of Daugo Island, Papua New Guinea.
    Michael Goddard.
    The Australian Journal of Anthropology. June 09, 2013
    Courts of law in Melanesian countries, particularly in the aftermath of the colonial period, have attempted to accommodate ‘custom’. In Papua New Guinea they commonly hear land claims under terms of reference that acknowledge the wide variety of customs among the many ethno‐linguistic groups comprising the nation. A corollary of this liberalism is that, in theory, they admit ‘traditional evidence’ including legends and myths. Yet as courts of law they are required to apply some criteria of proof and to search for the ‘truth’ by examining the ‘facts’. A long‐running land case from Papua New Guinea and its aftermath raises interesting questions about what happens when oral history encounters these legal imperatives, and may help us appreciate why Melanesians often do not regard a court's decision as final.
    June 09, 2013   doi: 10.1111/taja.12034   open full text