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Person, Space and Memory in the Contemporary Pacific
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Person and Place
Ideas, Ideals and Practice of Sociality on Vanua Lava, Vanuatu
Sabine C. Hess
252 pages, 23 illus., 2 maps, 13 tables, 8 figs, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-1-84545-599-6 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (August 2009)
eISBN 978-1-84545-939-0 eBook
“…the book’s most admirable qualities are evident when Hess allows her ethnographic description to develop, in the attention she gives to vernacular narrative and linguistic analysis, and in the commitment that she gives to engaging with Vanua-Lavan sociality within a flux of historical change.” · JRAI
Concerned with contemporary notions of personhood and the relationship between persons and places, this book, presents a detailed insight into the Vanua Lavan’s engagement with modernity, and examines how they relate to the past, make sense of the present and anticipate the future. Marilyn Strathern's claim that the Melanesian person is a dividual by and large holds for the Vanua Lavan person. But Vanua Lavans have also been exposed to, and creatively engaged with, what can be summarised under the term ‘Western individualism’. The author draws together several themes, discourses and conversations which concern Vanuatu specifically, the Pacific as a wider geographic area but also theoretical fields in anthropology: the relevance and expressions of sociality through kinship, concepts of person, issues about land and cosmology, the kastom debate, and questions about continuity and change. In doing so she provides a snapshot of contemporary notions of personhood.
Sabine Hess was awarded a Ph.D. from the Australian National University in Canberra and is currently teaching Anthropology at the Institute für Ethnologie, University of Heidelberg. She is also working on an interdisciplinary project to document two endangered languages of Vanua Lava, Vanuatu, funded by the VW Foundation.
Subject: Anthropology (General)
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