This collection of original essays critically examines the relationship between ritual, embodiment, and social change in the South Pacific. Over the past few decades, the societies of Melanesia have undergone profound and revolutionary social change. Encounters with colonialism, postcolonialism, and the forces of globalization have put indigenous peoples in touch with processes of state formation, late capitalist culture, and the emergence of a complex network of transnational identities. In addition to shaping the contours of the nation state, these developments are having a profound impact on the nature of embodied experience. In recent years, many Melanesian societies have witnessed the rise of charismatic Christianity, changing gender configurations, and the growing use of consumerism as a means of defining new social and political hierarchies.
Embodying Modernity and Post-Modernity provides detailed analyses of those social changes that are becoming part of contemporary Melanesia. Written by experts with first-hand fieldwork experience, this volume furnishes novel insights concerning the social implications of modernity and postmodernity. More specifically, it addresses two interrelated themes: how the rise of new social and economic forms has influenced the ways in which Melanesians think about, experience and act upon their bodies, and the ways in which these new forms of bodily experience contribute to the emergence of new social and cultural identities.
This book is part of the Ritual Studies Monograph Series, edited by Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh.
“While this volume will be of particular interest for regional specialists and theorists of the body, it also makes important contributions to historical analysis of colonial and post-colonial interpretations of modernity and ritual studies. The editor also deserves credit for bringing together a cohesive text, one in which the articles usefully speak to and complement one another.” — Anthropological Forum
“This book is a must read for scholars of Melanesia and all scholars of the Anthropology of the Body. There is much to be gleaned theoretically from these ethnographically rich essays.” — Oceania