Divergent pathways in Melanesian Ethnography

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Is it possible to compare two ethnographies and thereby compare how people in different settings encounter and construe their lived and imagined realities? Although the ethnographies reviewed here both concern small communities in Papua New Guinea--one in the highlands and one on the coast--responding to Western dominance and modernity, the two studies also exemplify the idea that it is impossible to make cross-cultural generalizations. This impossibility lies not in the uniqueness of each setting, but in the fact that doing fieldwork and writing ethnography is grounded in the personality of the researcher, his/her interaction with research subjects, and his/her methodological and theoretical approach. The two books reviewed here exemplify this: they are poles apart in
terms of the pathos with which the two researchers/ authors represent the social and cultural dynamics in the Papua New Guinean communities they studied --and, consequently, in terms of the conclusions of their research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-145
Number of pages8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


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