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Trees, Knots, and Outriggers

Environmental Knowledge in the Northeast Kula Ring

Frederick H. Damon

390 pages, 49 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-232-6 $130.00/£92.00 Hb Published (October 2016)

ISBN  978-1-78533-320-0 $34.95/£24.00 Pb Published (October 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-233-3 eBook

Hb Pb   Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Buy the ebook from these vendors

“A rare and formidable work. This is a wholly distinctive contribution to multi-species ethnography, of environments made as people tie living materials to one another. It is also a wholly original account of the research process: had Damon not recorded the patchiness of knowledge – locally, regionally -- he would not have understood how people draw things together and keep them moving at the same time. String figures, he was told, untie the mind and keep it supple -- so does this energizing book.” · Marilyn Strathern, University of Cambridge

“This is a hugely important book. It’s publication marks a milestone in anthropological theory – a must read in any course concerned with material culture, science and technology, and human ecology, and a treasure for those interested in maritime cultures.” · Susanne Kuechler, University College London

“This research is a bold undertaking in its intention and in its attention to detail… this book leaves no stone unturned, no leaf unexamined, no canoe fixture unquestioned.” · Shirley Campbell, Australian National University

Trees, Knots and Outriggers (Kaynen Muyuw) is the culmination of twenty-five years of work by Frederick H. Damon and his attention to cultural adaptations to the environment in Melanesia. Damon details the intricacies of indigenous knowledge and practice in his sweeping synthesis of symbolic and structuralist anthropology with recent developments in historical ecology. This book is a long conversation between the author’s many Papua New Guinea informants, teachers and friends, and scientists in Australia, Europe and the United States, in which a spirit of adventure and discovery is palpable.

Frederick H. Damon is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia.

Related Link: This book is accompanied by a large online repository of images:

Series: Volume 21, Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology
Subject: General Anthropology Environmental Studies
Area: Asia-Pacific

LC: GN671.N5 D36 2016

BISAC: SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural; SCI026000 SCIENCE/Environmental Science

BIC: JHMC Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography; RN The environment


List of Figures



Chapter 1. Return to the Garden: Gwed, locating intentions and interpretive puzzles


Chapter 2. The Trees: Classificatory forms, landscape beacons and basic categories
Chapter 3. The Forests and the Fire: Tasim, Inverted Landscapes, and Tree Meanings
Chapter 4. A Story of Calophyllum. From Ecological to Social Facts


Chapter 5. Vatul: A Life Form and a Form for Life
Chapter 6. Geometries of Motion: Trees and the Boats of the Eastern Kula Ring


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