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In a series of epic self-narratives ranging from traditional cultural embodiments to picaresque adventures, Christian epiphanies and a host of interactive strategies and techniques for living, Kewa Highlanders (PNG) attempt to shape and control their selves and their relentlessly changing world. This lively account transcends ethnographic particularity and offers a wide-reaching perspective on the nature of being human. Inverting the analytic logic of her previous work, which sought to uncover what social structures concealed, Josephides focuses instead on the cultural understandings that people make explicit in their actions and speech. Using approaches from philosophy and anthropology, she examines elicitation (how people create their selves and their worlds in the act of making explicit) and mimesis (how anthropologists produce ethnographies), to arrive at an unexpected conclusion: that knowledge of self and other alike derives from self-externalization rather than self-introspection.
Lisette Josephides is Professor of Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast, following many years of fieldwork in Papua New Guinea and teaching positions at the University of Papua New Guinea, the London School of Economics and the University of Minnesota.
List of Illustrations
Overtures, Ethnographic and Theoretical
1 The Aesthetics of Fieldwork among the Kewa 3
2 Self Strategies: Ascription, Interlocution, Elicitation 20
Pt. I Narratives
3 Narrating the Self I: Moral Constructions of the Self as Paradigmatic Accounts 53
4 Narrating the Self II: Metanarratives of Culture, Self, and Change 81
5 Narrating the Self III: The Heroic, the Epic and the Picaresque in a Changed World 112
Pt. II Portraits (Several Weddings, Some Divorces and Three Funerals)
6 Portraits and Minimal Narratives: Elicitations of Social Reality 151
7 Love and All That: Negotiating Marriage and Marital Life 162
8 The Politics of Death 188
9 Mimesis, Ethnography and Knowledge 216