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Creative Land: Place and Procreation on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea

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Creative Land

Place and Procreation on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea

James Leach

258 pages, 3 maps, 7 figs, 4 tables, 16 halftones

ISBN  978-1-57181-556-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2003)

ISBN  978-1-57181-693-1 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (August 2004)

eISBN 978-1-78920-583-1 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook from these vendors Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


"What is new in Leach’s account is the emphasis Nekgini speakers put on land. His attention to this emphasis makes his ethnography in many ways a powerful development... the book as a whole is consistently stimulating and theoretically sophisticated throughout."  ·  Joel Robbins, Contemporary Pacific

"The ethnography itself is full of interesting observations and novel information, and repays a close reading with a vivid sense of the distinctiveness of Reite social life…Creative Land is itself ‘creative’ and will attain its own ‘place’ in the historical ‘landscape’ of studies of kinship in New Guinea and elsewhere.  ·  Andrew Strathern, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute


What is creative in kinship? How are people connected to places? James Leach answers these questions through formulating “creativity” as an integral part of kinship on the north coast of Papua New Guinea. The book contains a new critique of the genealogical model of kinship, suggesting that this model prevents us from grasping the way generative relations, including those to land and place, constitute persons on the Rai Coast. Analytic attention is focused upon the life cycle, marriage, exchange and artistic production as the activities in which substantial connection is generated. The argument, made in relation to detailed ethnography, yields a fresh perspective on the connections people trace to each other.

James Leach is Research Fellow in Anthropology, King's College, Cambridge, and Affiliated Lecturer in the Dept. of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

Field research: Madang Province, Papua New Guinea 1994-5, 1999, 2000-2001, 2003. Published works on kinship and place, creativity, artistic production, ownership and cultural/intellectual property. (Creative Land. Place and Procreation on the Rai Coast of Papua New Guinea. 2003 Berghahn Books, Rationales of Ownership. Transactions and Claims to Ownership in Contemporary Papua New Guinea, (ed with Lawrence Kalinoe), 2004 Sean Kingston Publishing.) Field Research U.K.: 2002 to present, as 'Attached Observer' with artists placements in Industry and Science. Also directing research on constructions of gender among Open Source software programmers, and on artist’s relation with the law in the UK. Awarded the Royal Anthropological Institute JB Donne Prize in the Anthropology of Art for 1999, and The Philip Leverhulme Prize in 2004.

Subject: Anthropology (General)
Area: Asia-Pacific


List of Maps, Figures, Tables, and Photographs
Notes on the Text

Introduction: The Rai Coast

Chapter 1. Process and Kinship

  • Kinship, Process, and Creativity
  • Cognation and Flexibility
  • An Alternative to the Genealogical Model
  • The Palem

Chapter 2. Residence History and Palem

  • Hamlets Past and Present
  • Hamlets as Social Groups
  • The Labours of Lawrence Complexity

Chapter 3. Marrying Sisters

  • Defining Relationships
  • Myths and Explanations

Chapter 4. Gardens, Land, and Growth

  • Origin Points
  • Gendered Productivity: The Tambaran Households and Gardens
  • Gardening, not ‘Production’
  • Gardens, Land, and Substance
  • Male Continuity, Female Movement

Chapter 5. Birth, Emergence, and Exchange

  • The Transactions Between Affinal Kin Focused on Children
  • Mother’s Brothers in the Anthropological Literature
  • Affinal Payments and Lineality in Reite
  • Visibility and Recognition

Chapter 6. Spirit, Flesh, and Bone

  • The Palem as a Body
  • Performing Places
  • People and Spirits as Land Made Mobile

Chapter 7. Places and Bodies, Landscape and Perception

  • The Concept of Landscape in Anthropology
  • Hearing and Vision as Sensory Modalities
  • Landscape in the Nekgini Lifeworld

Chapter 8. Creative Land

  • Land, Place, and Person
  • Simple Principles, Complex Process
  • Creativity


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