JOURNAL of
ANTHROPOLOGICAL
RESEARCH
Volume 49, Number 3, Abstracts


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THE DEMISE OF THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING: SORCERY AND AMBITION ON NUKULAELAE ATOLL

Niko Besnier
Department of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520

Two ideological currents underlie political life on Nukulaelae Atoll (Polynesia): one that calls for a strong leadership structure and another that argues for egalitarianism. This paper focuses on the fate of one ambitious leader who fails to heed the co mmunity's egalitarian ideology and whose career is cut short by gossip alleging him to be a sorcerer. The analysis of a meeting in which this man attempts to deny the accusations shows that the ambiguous epistemological status of sorcery turns such accusa tions into particularly effective political tools. Public discourse colludes with offstage gossip to deny the accused the possibility of denying the allegations and transforms his attempt to do so into a degradation ceremony, through which his marginaliz ation is further affirmed. Sorcery accusations have been described as either hierarchy-maintaining devices or weapons of resistance. On Nukulaelae, they help maintain a delicate tension between hierarchy and equality.


SORCERY AND THE SILENCING OF CHIEFS: "WORDS ON THE WIND" IN POSTINDEPENDENCE AMBAE

William Rodman
Department of Anthropology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada L8S 4L9

In this paper I discuss what I learned from being the "son" of a Pacific island chief who was accused of committing murder by magical means. My research on Ambae in Vanuatu lends cross-cultural support to the idea in current African ethnography that sorcery often serves as an idiom for discourse about local power and privilege in "weak" postcolonial states. On Ambae, as in the Cameroons, sorcery accusations are a leveling discourse, a protest on the part of women, the young, and the powerless against the persistence of old forms of inequality in a new era of postcolonial politics. I also show how ambiguities in sorcery beliefs on Ambae blur questions of innocence and guilt. Ultimately, my "father" was forced to accept his political fate in the bitter knowledge that his enemies may have been right, that the "words on the wind" might have whispered the truth.


SOCIAL STATUS AND POTENTIAL GARDEN SITE PRODUCTIVITY AMONG SUBSISTENCE CULTIVATORS IN THE NEW GUINEA HIGHLANDS: THE ABSENCE OF CORRELATIONS

Paul Sillitoe
Department of Anthropology, University of Durham, Durham, DHl 3HN, England

In the Papua New Guinea Highlands, pigs are highly valued and widely exchanged in transactions in which those who excel earn high esteem. It appears that men of high exchange-derived standing have some edge over their rivals in pig production. One advan tage could be access to better-situated and more fertile garden sites. This paper reports on a comparison of garden location and soil fertility with gardener's social status, among the Wool people of the Southern Highlands Province. Site characteristics assessed include altitude, aspect, slope, surface topography, and previous natural vegetation, and soil factors include topsoil color and depth, horizon sequence, pH, N, P, and K status. Comparison of these environmental factors with social status, asse ssed according to ol howma 'bigman' standing, reveals no correlation's between them, nor does comparison with other differences in men's social standing - their ages and semgenk kin-group affiliation - suggest any connection. It appears that differential access to female labor, not natural resources, underpins some men's capability to handle larger numbers of pigs than others. This has significant implications for the acephalous political order of the Wola.


ILLNESS AND HOUSEHOLD REPRODUCTION IN A HIGHLY MONETIZED RURAL ECONOMY: A CASE FROM THE SOUTHERN PERUVIAN HIGHLANDS

Susan Luerssen
Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado at Denver, Denver, CO 80217

This article examines the relationship between the socioeconomic reproduction of households and illness in a small town on the Peruvian altiplano with serious limitations on production levels and access to agropastoral inputs. Significant social differen tiation characterizes this semirural population, with some living comfortably off of cash incomes from formal sector jobs, commodity production, and/or commerce, while others survive on meager resources earned through a combination of subsistence producti on and low-paying informal employment. A quarter of the population is excluded from agropastoral activities, relying completely on poorly paid, insecure jobs. Illness not only reflects such differentiation but is a major causal factor conditioning peopl e's socioeconomic circumstances. The low income, landless households are the most at risk to socioeconomic and health-related crisis.


BOOK REVIEWS

The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650-1815. Richard White. Cambridge, Eng.: Cambridge University ress, 1991, 544 pp., maps, figs. $49.00 (cloth). Reviewed by James A. Clifton, Western Michigan University.

Like People You See in a Dream: First Contact in Six Papuan Societies. Edward L. Schieffelin and Robert Crittenden. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 1991, xix + 325 pp., + maps + plates, $39.50 (cloth), $12.95 (paper). Reviewed by Terence E. Hays, Rhode Island College.

Bodies, Pleasures, and Passions: Secual Culture in Contemporary Brazil. Richard G. Parker. Boston: Beacon Press, 1991, 203 pp., $24.95 (cloth). David Howes, Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

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