Sambia Sexual Culture: Essays from the Field / Edition 1

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Overview


Few cultures have received as much attention in the study of erotic desire, sexuality, and gender as the Sambia of Papua New Guinea. Here, for the first time, is a collection of groundbreaking essays and a new introduction on the Sambia's sexual culture by the renowned anthropologist Gilbert Herdt.

Over the course of 20 years, Herdt made 13 field trips to live with the Sambia in order to understand sexuality and ritual in the context of warfare and gender segregation. Herdt's essays examine Sambia fetish and fantasy, ritual nose-bleeding, the role of homoerotic insemination, the role of the father and mother in the process of identity formation, and the creation of a "third sex" in nature and culture. He also discusses the representation of homosexuality in cross-cultural literature on premodern societies, arguing that scholars have long viewed desires through the tropes of negative western models. Herdt asks us to reconsider the realities and subjective experiences of desires in their own context, and to rethink how the homoerotic is expressed in radically divergent sexual cultures.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
These nine essays, published between 1980 and 1991, approach male homosexual practices among a Papua New Guinea society Herdt (anthropology, San Francisco State Univ.) refers to as the Sambia. There is also a good deal of theoretical discussion of sexual identity in a cross-cultural framework. Much of this material has also appeared in Herdt's Guardians of the Flutes and The Sambia: Ritual and Gender in New Guinea. For the most part, these essays are concerned with description and analysis of the ritualized insemination of young boys by older males. While Herdt takes great care to relativize the homosexual aspects of these practices, it is striking how little there is in the way of commentary on the matter of elders taking sexual advantage of children, a topic of considerable immediacy in contemporary America. For academic and larger public libraries.--Glenn Petersen, CUNY Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author


Gilbert Herdt is professor and director of the Graduate Program in Human Sexuality at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and director emeritus of the National Sexuality Resource Center at San Francisco State University. His books include Sambia Sexual Culture: Essays from the Field, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments
Introduction: Sexual Cultures, Strange and Familiar
1. Songs in the Key of Life
2. Sambia Sexual Culture
3. Fetish and Fantasy in Sambia Initiation
4. Sambia Nosebleeding Rites and Male Proximity to Females
5. Semen Depletion and the Sense of Maleness
6. Father Presence and Ritual Homoeroticism: Paternal Deprivation and Masculinity in Melanesia Reconsidered
7. Developmental Discontinuities and Sexual Orientation across Cultures
8. Mistaken Sex: Culture, Biology, and the Third Sex in New Guinea
9. Representations of "Homosexuality": Cultural Ontology and Historical Comparison
Bibliography
Credits
Index
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