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An engaging, beautifully written account by an ethnographer who lived in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, Encompassing Others is at once a history of the encounter of two cultures and an attempt to challenge theoretically the main concepts that have informed the study of modernity. Going beyond accounts that grasp modernity solely in terms of domination, imperialism, and local resistance, Edward LiPuma explores how capitalism, Christianity, and mass commercial culture enchant the senses, create a carnival of new goods, and open up new possibilities for thought and action.
Focusing on the Maring culture of Highland New Guinea and on the Westerners who interacted with them, LiPuma presents issues from the perspectives of both sides. We hear the voice of an Anglican priest from San Francisco as well as those of powerful shamans. Further, he develops a theory of generations that helps to explain how change accelerates and how societies take on new directions across generations.
Theoretical, descriptive, but almost entirely free of jargon, this book is for anyone interested in how the encompassing West influences how people conceive of the past, imagine the future, and experience the present. It will have wide appeal to anthropologists and to others concerned with colonialism, globalization, and the formation of the nation-state.
Edward LiPuma is Professor and Chair of the Department of Anthropology, University of Miami. He is also the author of The Gift of Kinship: Structure and Practice in Maring Social Organization.
Copyright © 2000, University of Michigan. All rights reserved. Posted April 2001.
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