From Primitive to Postcolonial in Melanesia and Anthropology

Bruce M. Knauft
A prominent scholar surveys the special place of Melanesia in our understanding of human cultural variation

Description

What have anthropologists taught us about Melanesia--one of anthropology's most important and intensively studied world regions? In this book, Professor Bruce Knauft draws together and critically reanalyzes what we know about major features of Melanesian cultural history, warfare and politics, gender, bodily practices, and spirituality as discerned from more than a century of academic study.

From Primitive to Postcolonial in Melanesia and Anthropology is arguably the most comprehensive single reassessment of Melanesia as an ethnographic world area to have been published in several decades. Written for students as well as professional scholars, this work further broadens our understanding by analyzing the history of Melanesian ethnography and relating this history to the larger relationship between Melanesia as a contemporary world area and anthropology as a field of contemporary human study.

". . . a splendid scholarly contribution, unique in its aims and achievements for Melanesia as a culture area and the implications of accumulated knowledge for anthropology as a whole." --Gilbert Herdt, San Francisco State University

Bruce M. Knauft is Professor of Anthropology, Emory University, and the author of three previous books as well as some thirty journal articles and chapters. Knauft's interests span a wide range of issues in the anthropology of Melanesia and he is articulate with general issues of cultural theory and anthropological history.

Praise / Awards

  • ". . . a splendid scholarly contribution, unique in its aims and achievements for Melanesia as a culture area and the implications of accumulated knowledge for anthropology as a whole."
    --Gilbert Herdt, San Francisco State University
  • "From Primitive to Postcolonial not only represents an important turn in Melanesian anthropology, but does so in an exemplary way."
    --Edward LiPuma, University of Miami (Florida), Contemporary Pacific, Spring 2001
  • "This book's main strength is in bringing theoretical trends of extremely broad scope in anthropology and cultural studies together with narrowly particularist studies of Melanesian ethnography--that literature of small cases--across an impressive range, historically, topically, and geographically. Specialists will appreciate the book's extraordinarily rich bibliography, and others will find in its essays clear roadmaps of the Melanesianist literature."
    --Ira Bashkow, University of Virginia, Ethnos, Volume 66, No. 3 (2001)
  • "Knauft is a progressive anthropologist who seeks to engage constructively with critique from cultural studies, postmodernism and postcolonial writings while keeping faith with the type of fieldwork from which anthropology has traditionally drawn its strength. . . . Knauft's book is a welcome counter to the clamour from some quarters for a retreat from the dangerous ground of traditional fieldwork to the safe heights of textual contemplation. It is an important and timely contribution to the anthropology of Melanesia.
    --Michael Goddard, The Australian Journal of Anthropology, Volume 12, No. 3

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 352pp.
  • 7 drawings, 1 table, 1 map, 16 color photographs.
Available for sale worldwide

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  • Paper
  • 1999
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-06687-2

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  • $31.95 U.S.

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