To Sing with Pigs is Human: The Concept of Person in Papua New Guineaby Jane C. Goodale
Melanesia has been the research focus of some of anthropology’s legendary names. In the best tradition of Melanesian scholarship, Jane Goodale writes here of the Kaulong who live in the deep forests of New Britain, an island in the vast territory of Papua New Guinea. Even in the last half of the twentieth century, the Kaulong’s contact with the outside
Melanesia has been the research focus of some of anthropology’s legendary names. In the best tradition of Melanesian scholarship, Jane Goodale writes here of the Kaulong who live in the deep forests of New Britain, an island in the vast territory of Papua New Guinea. Even in the last half of the twentieth century, the Kaulong’s contact with the outside world through government patrols and missionaries has been minimal. Their story enhances our understanding of Melanesia and adds new and significant material to the comparison of Oceanic cultures and societies.
In the course of her fieldwork with them, Goodale recognized that everything of importance to the Kaulongevery event, every relationship, every transactionwas rooted in their constant quest for recognition as human beings. She addresses here questions central to Kaulong society: What is it that makes an individual human? How is humanity, or personhood, achieved and maintained?
In their consuming concern with their status as human beings, the Kaulong mark progress on a continuum from nonhuman (animal-like) to the most respected level of humanitythe political Big Men and Big Women. Knowledge is the key to movement along the continuum, and acquiring, displaying and defending knowledge are at the heart of social interaction. At all-night "singsings," individuals compete through song in their knowledge of people, places, and many other aspects of their forested world. The sacrifice of pigs and distribution of pork to guests completes the ceremonial display and defense of knowledge and personhood.
While To Sing with Pigs will be welcomed by anthropologists and area specialists, it will appeal on a broader level to anyone interested in this still remote part of the world. Goodale's analysis of songs and their ritual context adds unusual depth to the ethnography. Fascinating field photographs and readable text prove again that anthropology can be both scholarly and lively.
- University of Washington Press
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.33(w) x 9.59(h) x 1.08(d)
- Age Range:
- 18 Years
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