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Acting for Others: Relational Transformations in Papua New Guinea

Abstract : For the Ankave of Papua New Guinea, men, unlike women, do not reach adulthood and become fathers simply by growing up and reproducing. The content of a certain number of relationships (with their mother, their eldest sister) must have first undergone a transformation. These changes take place in several stages, which are materialized by rituals in which the men and women perform complementary actions in separate spaces. Based on first-hand ethnographic material gathered by a team of two anthropologists of different gender, this analysis of the Ankave ritual cycle for the first time places the male and female roles side by side, using material gathered by the author from the women in the village, and by her co-ethnographer from the men in the forest. The parallel material has made it possible to interpret them as a place and moment in which the novices’ relations with certain kinswomen undergoes a transformation. At the heart of this process is the idea that it is possible to act for and upon another, by obeying food taboos and drastically limiting one’s own activities. Analysis of the behaviors respected for the most part by the women on behalf of male kinsmen are a vital link in the argument developed, as is the idea that the different stages of rituals forms a sequence, and have thus to be studied together. This new ethnographic material on the involvement of women in male initiations not only sheds a fresh light on the extant analyses, but also suggests another way of approaching life-cycle rituals in general.
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Contributor : Pascale Bonnemère Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, January 26, 2021 - 5:39:35 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, November 3, 2021 - 4:42:06 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Tuesday, April 27, 2021 - 6:07:49 PM


Publication funded by an institution


  • HAL Id : hal-01796588, version 1



Pascale Bonnemère. Acting for Others: Relational Transformations in Papua New Guinea. HAU Books, 2018, 978-0-9973675-8-4. ⟨hal-01796588⟩



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