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Big Men and Great Men: Personifications of Power in Melanesia

Big Men and Great Men: Personifications of Power in Melanesia


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The societies of Melanesia have been a constant stimulus to anthropological theory. In this collection of essays, anthropologists who have worked in all parts of the Melanesian region of the Pacific bring their expertise to bear on a single theoretical issue. This is a hypothesis formulated by Maurice Godelier concerning the relationship between power, kinship and wealth. Although tightly focused on Godelier's work, the book opens up a major enquiry into the constitution of society in a part of the world where men of prominence come to personify the nature of power. 'Big men', entrepreneurs of exchanges, and 'great men', who flourish in societies characterised by restricted exchanges and ritual complexity, appear to belong to quite different systems. This book considers how substantial the difference between them really is.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780521102292
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 12/11/2008
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 348
Product dimensions: 5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.79(d)

Table of Contents

Part I: 1. From great men to big men: peace, substitution and competition in the Highlands of New Guinea Pierre Lemonnier; 2; Great man, big man, chief: a triangulation of the Massim John Liep; 3. Soaring hawks and grounded persons: the politics of rank and gender in north Vanuatu Margaret Jolly; Part II: 4. Punishing the yams: leadership and gender ambivalence on Sabarl Island Debora Battaglia; 5. Great men and total systems: North Mekeo hereditary authority and social reproduction Mark Moska; 6 The cryptic brotherhood of big men and great men in Ilahita Donald Tuzin; 7. Complementarily and rivalry: two contradictory principles in Yafar society Bernard Juillerat; 8. How Oro Province societies fit Godelier's model Eric Schwimmer; Part III: 9. The fractal person Roy Wagner; 10. The flute myth and the law of equivalence: origins of a principle of exchange Gillian Allison; 11. One man and many men Marilyn Strathern; 12. 'Interests' in exchange: increment, equivalence and the limits of big-manship Rena Lederman; 13. Post-Ipomoean modernism: the Duna example Nicholas Modjeska; 14. Big men, great men and women: alternative logics of gender difference Dan Jorgensen.

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