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The Power of Perspective

Social Ontology and Agency on Ambrym Island, Vanuatu

Knut Mikjel Rio

272 pages, 38 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-293-3 $120.00/£85.00 Hb Published (May 2007)


Hb   Recommend to your Library

“Readers interested in Pacific kinship and exchange will find much to value in The Power of the Perspective. This is also a book that can be useful for scholars who want an ethnographic example of how to approach analyzing society as a universal, albeit locally produced, concept.”  ·  Pacific Affairs

"As the first ethnographic monograph of Ambrym to find its way to publication, The Power of Perspective is to be highly recommended, particularly to students and scholars of Melanesian anthropology and to theoreticians of ritual agency and exchange. Rio's treatment of exchange, ritual process and social form are highly sophisticated, and I have no doubt that his development of the theory of 'thirdness' will prove to be of enduring value to the discipline.  ·  Oceania

"Rio's ethnography effectively documents Vanuatu's enduring abundance of culture and the power of its perspective - the uses of looking at our world through Islander eyes."  ·  The Contemporary Pacific

"La lecture de cet ouvrage trés savant, aux abondantes références autant classique que contemporaines, anthropologiques, sociologiques ou philosophiques, demand une attention soutenue, mais n'en témoigne pas moins d'une pensée novatrice, clairement exprimé."  ·  Moussons

"What Rio does do well is to encourage the reader to understand how peoples' actions, especially with regards to exchange, are situated within larger webs of social interactions to create order and meaning for the people involved. Further, he does do this with theoretical vigour and ample ethnographic examples. As such, the book is a useful, if not essential, addition to the wealth of ethnographic material on Ambrym Island"  ·  Journal of the Polynesian Society

"A number of theoretical issues that he raises in this slender book would be useful to anyone interested in the comparative studies of the region."  ·  Anthropos

Focusing on different forms of agency in North Ambrym social life, the author demonstrates the potency of outsiders at different times and in different situations in Ambrym society. This model challenges the premises of much Western thinking about reciprocity, and suggests new directions in the analysis of Melanesian societies

Knut Mikjel Rio is Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Bergen. He has conducted long-term fieldwork in Vanuatu in the western Pacific, and research themes relate to ideas about social ontology, production and ceremonial and the relation between the monetary economy and sorcery in Vanuatu.

Subject: General Anthropology
Area: Asia-Pacific

LC: GN671.N6 R66 2007

BL: YK.2007.a.19106

BISAC: SOC002000 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/General

BIC: JHM Anthropology




Contents

List of maps and illustrations

Foreword: ”Putting people first”

Acknowledgements
Note on language

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Kinship and sand-drawing
Chapter 3. The totalising third party
Chapter 4. The circles of marriage
Chapter 5. Of yams and men
Chapter 6. The intentionality of ceremonial agency
Chapter 7. Displaying life after Death
Chapter 8. The phenomenology of Ambrym exchange
Chapter 9. Conclusions: Denying the gift

Appendices
Bibliography
Index

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