On the Edge of the Global: Modern Anxieties in a Pacific Island Nation / Edition 1

On the Edge of the Global: Modern Anxieties in a Pacific Island Nation / Edition 1

by Niko Besnier
Pub. Date:
Stanford University Press
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On the Edge of the Global: Modern Anxieties in a Pacific Island Nation / Edition 1

Life in twenty-first century Tonga is rife with uncertainties. Though the postcolonial island kingdom may give the appearance of stability and order, there is a malaise that pervades everyday life, a disquiet rooted in the feeling that the twin forces of "progress" and "development"—and the seemingly inevitable wealth distribution that follows from them—have bypassed the society.
Niko Besnier's illuminating ethnography analyzes the ways in which segments of this small-scale society grapple with their growing anxiety and hold on to different understandings of what modernity means. How should it be made relevant to local contexts? How it should mesh with practices and symbols of tradition? In the day-to-day lives of Tongans, the weight of transformations brought on by neoliberalism and democracy press not in the abstract, but in individually significant ways: how to make ends meet, how to pay lip service to tradition, and how to present a modern self without opening oneself to ridicule. Adopting a wide-angled perspective that brings together political, economic, cultural, and social concerns, this book focuses on the interface between the different forms that modern uncertainties take.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804774062
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication date: 03/02/2011
Series: Contemporary Issues in Asia and the Pacific Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

Figures, Tables, Charts, and Maps ix

Note on Tongan Orthography and Transcription Conventions xi

Preface xiii

1 Straddling the Edge of the Global 1

2 Tonga's Modernity 29

3 Consumption and Cosmopolitanism 75

4 When Gifts Become Commodities 104

5 Modern Bodies on the Runway 125

6 Coloring and Straightening 160

7 Shaping the Modern Body 183

8 Reconfiguring the Modern Christian 205

Conclusion: Sites of Modernity 231

Notes 245

References 263

Index 293

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