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Person, Space and Memory in the Contemporary Pacific
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Foodways and Empathy
Relatedness in a Ramu River Society, Papua New Guinea
Anita von Poser
288 pages, 25 illus., 4 figs, 1 map, bibliog., index
ISBN 978-0-85745-919-0 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (July 2013)
ISBN 978-1-78533-220-3 $34.95/£27.95 Pb Published (March 2016)
eISBN 978-0-85745-920-6 eBook
“This is a rich ethnography, steeped in the literatures on emotion, the body, and place… For those looking for holistic ethnographies for teaching purposes, this book could be easily incorporated into advanced undergraduate or graduate courses. In our neoliberal times, it will be especially eye-opening for students to see the intensely social nature of Bosmun food practices. It will also reward scholars interested in thinking through current anthropological approaches to foodways in relationship to kinship, gender, place, and emotional experience.” · Food and Foodways
“von Poser’s book offers up a fascinating, keenly observed account of the ways in which Bosmun people view and assess one another’s hunger.” · Pacific Affairs
“The book contains fascinating material from an under-represented area in the ethnographic coverage of PNG. It also contains excellent ideas and analysis…[and] presents some sensitively written ethnography, dwelling on an important element of kinship relations (feelings of amity, sympathy, and emotional connection) between persons. The main thrust of the text is to link these key elements of kinship to sago production, food sharing and exchange, movement, and myth. This is valuable and fascinating.” · James Leach, University of Aberdeen
“This is a very valuable work that greatly advances anthropology’s understanding of empathy and its expression through sharing food. It provides a detailed ethnographic case study of these phenomena that is thoroughly grounded in the comparative and current theoretical anthropological literature on these topics.” · Roger Lohmann, Trent University
Through the sharing of food, people feel entitled to inquire into one another’s lives and ponder one another’s states in relation to their foodways. This in-depth study focuses on the Bosmun of Daiden, a Ramu River people in an under-represented area in the ethnography of Papua New Guinea, uncovering the conceptual convergence of local notions of relatedness, foodways, and empathy. In weaving together discussions about paramount values as passed on through myth, the expression of feelings in daily life, and the bodily experience of social and physical environs, a life-world unfolds in which moral, emotional, and embodied foodways contribute notably to the creation of relationships. Concerned with unique processes of “making kin,” the book adds a distinct case to recent debates about relatedness and empathy and sheds new light onto the conventional anthropological themes of food production, sharing, and exchange.
Anita von Poser was awarded a DPhil at the University of Heidelberg. As a postdoctoral fellow of the multidisciplinary Max Planck International Research Network on Aging, she was based at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale. She currently holds a teaching and research position at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Free University Berlin.