When residents of Enga Province in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea (PNG) experience frustration, anger, or sorrow due to conflicts with relatives, such as clan members, they can become ill and even die. The feeling underpinning that phenomenon is referred to as “heaviness” (kenda) in the Enga language. According to that line of thinking, a deterioration in the relationship between relatives leads to a decline in the physical well-being of the persons involved. Indeed, social relationships, bodies, and emotions are inextricably intertwined through the concept of heaviness. In this paper, I consider cases of heaviness from the viewpoint of the theory of personhood and body. As the theory of personhood is broad, I focus on the specific question of how we can grasp a form of sociality and concept of person that are so radically different from our own in terms of its treatment of bodies and emotions. (View PDF for the rest of the abstract.)
Meizhou (梅州), a city in southeast China, is famous as the hometown of the Hakka diaspora (an ethnic group of Chinese).
After China adopted the Open Door Policy in 1978, many Hakka people from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia started visiting the city. During their stays, they invested or donated large sums of foreign currency, thereby developing the local economy. One of the important motives for visiting to Meizhou was their view of the city as the hometown of the Hakka ethnicity. Ironically, the local Hakka in Meizhou had little consciousness of that identity until recently, and the city government did not use the concept of the Hakka in cultural policies before the 1980’s. As city politicians fostered closer relationships with the Hakka diaspora, they began to understand the cultural imagination of the diaspora that regarded their city as the center of Hakka ethnicity. Starting in the late 1980’s, the government began promoting a Hakka cultural policy, part of which has included constructing a landscape meant to characterize or reference the Hakka culture. Projects constructed under that policy include Hakka resort villages, a Hakka cultural park, and a Confucius shrine.
Conscious of the “eyes of the other,” the city government and project developers tended toward landscape designs that catered to what the overseas Chinese imagined as Hakka, rather than to locally- inspired ones related to everyday life. For the overseas Hakka, the prototypical example of the Hakka landscape were Fujian Tulou (土樓), a UNESCO World Heritage site considered by overseas Chinese to be symbolic of the Hakka heritage. However, Tulou found along the border between Guangdong and Fujian Provinces, which is also inhabited by non-Hakka ethnic groups such as the Minnan (閩南) and Chaoshan (潮 汕 ) peoples. That type of building never existed in Meizhou City, so most inhabitants of the city are not familiar with Tulou. From their perspective, the landscape typified by Tulou buildings is not authentic, with other local landscapes representing the real “Hakka heritage” to them. For example, senior members of the X lineage, a patrilineal kinship group, regard their traditional collective houses known as Weilongwu (圍龍 屋) as the authentic Hakka heritage, and raised funds to restore them. On the other hand, for members of another lineage, the Y lineage, the real Hakka heritage is represented by their first ancestor’s tomb, so they improved the area around the tomb.
The word or concept of flexibility has been often used to explain pastoralists’ behavior and organization. In fact, spatial mobility for moving camps, and the fact that flocks and herds are partible(separable), can provide various options to make decisions with respect to certain conditions. However, there are limits to flexibility. It is often considered that camps consist of several households that empirically correspond to family, and are the lowest level of social community in some areas. At least, a minimum size of residential units has been needed, to some extent, to maintain human life and reproduction, as well as herding and husbandry in pastoral societies.
In Mongolia(especially modern Mongolia), the basic residential unit is the hot ail, a cluster of two or more tents, each of which is occupied by a single nuclear family. The main role of hot ails is to facilitate cooperation in managing livestock. Hot ails are transitory and flexible arrangements, generally based on kinship connections and relationships between close friends. This paper focuses on the transformation of one residential unit and the households composing it over a period of some 11 years, during which its composition changed and divided into several smaller units. It presents a case study of how residential units in Mongolian pastoral society have changed after the collapse of the socialist system, and examines the process from the point of flexibility, also found in the breakaway from the traditional developmental cycle in Mongolian pastoral society.
Some of those changes can be explained by ecological factors, one of which is carrying capacity, referring to when flocks become too large to herd in the grazing land adjacent to a camp. Another factor is the problem of husbandry, with rams and bucks becoming isolated from ewes and does. Because of those factors, the residential unit split into two, with a one-tent residential unit appearing temporarily. Finally, three residential units emerged in this study.
Other changes can be explained more directly by social factors, the main one of which was migration to towns and other sedentary areas, or sedentarization. In the area that I studied, that trend started to become pronounced in 2006, after which residential units became progressively smaller over time. Pastoralists migrated to towns, and many became absentee herd owners, leaving the management of their livestock to herdsmen. As a result, some of the residential units came to consist not only of nuclear families but also of households with only herdsmen, including one-person households. Singular residential units also appeared, composed of just one tent with one family, several herdsmen, or only one herdsman. Such small residential units could not complete such work as slaughter for the market, the birth of livestock, hay-cutting, and movement, all of which used to be carried out by the hot ails cooperatively.
In Themel, the tourist market of Kathmandu, Nepal, retailers who work in jewelry shops for tourists suspect that wholesalers, who are their transactional partners, are cheating them; this is also known as ḍabbe-bāz. Retailers, who are cautious of ḍabbe-bāz, request wholesalers to search for information on commodities they have bought. That information is normally sought in unpaid term. Through that process, the retailers build trust with the wholesalers and become their regular customers. Being a “regular” means that a retailer does not have to search for information, and that he respects the wholesaler. However, retailers sustain a regular relationship, but also search for information among regulars. Thus, my thesis
explains how retailers are often regulars but still search for information.
Many researchers have discussed how buyers deal with the risk of cheating with the uncertainties of quality and price. These discussions have been divided into two types, with the risk of market uncertainty solved by two things:(1)noneconomic social ties and(2)sharing information through searches and converting buyers into clientele. However, it is clarified that personalized transactional relationships become risky in themselves if those ties get increasingly stronger. Meanwhile, Alexander and Alexander specifically discuss how traders in the Java market deal with such a risk by avoiding it. Initially, in the Java market, it is difficult to obtain appropriate information about the range of the current prices of particular goods. In such a situation, buyers and sellers trade appropriate information by becoming trading partners with each other. However, that risks the restriction of the ow of new information about prices and the quality of goods, so even if retail clothing dealers can obtain the same goods at the same prices from their trading partners, they purposely buy goods from producers’ agents who are visiting the market so as to obtain new information about the prices of volatile goods. The retailers deal in that way with the restrictions on information stemming from trading partnerships.
This paper explores the ways in which the concept of the “dividual” has functioned as a heuristic device for varied forms of anthropological thinking. Anthropologists study different cultures or societies to reconsider their own (often Western or universal)concepts. However, that has led to controversy, especially in terms of essentializing the “other” by exaggerating and reifying differences between “us” and “them.” This paper avoids the tension inherent in the binary of the Western/universal self and non-Western/local personhood by exploring “dividuality.” Dividuality, as opposed to individuality, has taken form through comparisons not only between the West and non-West, but also between two non-Western areas, namely South Asia and Melanesia. This paper extends the comparative enterprise to also take into account the di erent theoretical discussions that helped shape the concept in di erent ways across regions. Rather than relying on the conventional, linear assumption that concept-making is a matter of abstraction that necessary follows the concrete specificities of ethnographic data, the dividual offers a particularly strong
illustration of the co-emergence of data and theory.
Section II examines the Indian model of the dividual. David Schneider, emphasizing the importance of natives’ categories, proposed a framework with substance and code comprising American kinship. In McKim Marriott’s Indian ethnosociology, those elements were combined as inseparable “substance-codes,” exchanged by transactions of food, sexual fluids, or everyday conversations. The personhood thus constituted was dividual. In the Indian context, dividuality supported Marriott’s critique of Louis Dumont’s rigid dualism, centering on purity and impurity, since it emphasized the more dynamic and uid exchanges of substances. In spite of that, the Indian model was neglected for decades, most importantly because Marriott’s ethnosociological inquiry focused only on pure indigenous categories in an isolated way, which reinforced the assumption of different, Western categories.
Section III traces how the dividual was subsequently recovered and applied to Melanesian anthropology. Roy Wagner transported David Schneider’s model to Melanesia, and Marilyn Strathern extended Wagner’s argument by transforming the dividual to explore the main topics of contemporary Melanesian studies. In particular, central to Strathern’s endeavor was a critique of mainstream Marxist feminist theory deployed to analyze systemic gender inequalities in Melanesia, and her alternative elaboration of the gender of the gift. Of equal importance were Wagner’s heuristic approach toward Melanesian personhood and Strathern’s strategy of continuous comparison between Melanesian and Euro-American contexts. Rather than seeking local dividual personhood or indigenous categories, their projects have suggested how individuals emerge through dividuality. Because of that attitude, their arguments were widely influential among Melanesianists, who sought novel explanations for continuities and changes in Melanesian societies. Furthermore, Strathern has re-contextualized her idea of dividuality to the West, drawing an analogical comparison between the dividual in Melanesian personhood and merographic relations in English kinship.
The final section summarizes differences in concept-making between Indian ethnosociology and the Melanesian heuristic approach. Moreover, juxtaposing the Indian model with contemporary situations, it suggests fresh insights for understanding humanity when individuality is not taken for granted.
Although the relationship between war and environmental resources was a concern for classical anthropology, the literature on anthropology of war in recent decades has rarely treated the environment as a main topic of inquiry. In recent years, however, there has been a growing interest in the relationship between military activities and the environment both in academia as well as by activists. On the one hand, defense experts now consider climate change as a security concern that contributes to regional conflicts. On the other, environmental protection has emerged as one of the key arguments in opposing wars and military facilities. In this article, I explore how this trend can be studied anthropologically.
The environment has always been a matter of concern for military strategists. Military campaigns often carry invading armies to unfamiliar terrains and unaccustomed climes, bringing them into contact with unknown disease agents. During the Cold War, however, concerns about the boomerang effects of the ever-growing destructive powers of weaponry(especially nuclear)on friendly forces and nations brought such environmental concerns to a new level. During the Vietnam War, the worldwide admonition against the use of chemical defoliants(commonly known as “Agent Orange”)gave rise to the notion of “ecocide”(or ecological-genocide), which sought to extend the protection of civilian life under international humanitarian law to nature. Such an international law framework now provides the means to file grievances for suffering caused by past and contemporary military activities based on supposed environmentally-mediated risks and harms.
Anthropologists studying international humanitarian law and human rights have typically focused on how such legal concepts are applied in practice. Drawing on the Foucaultian notion of subjectivity and governmentality, they have explored how the discourse of rights offers “idioms of distress,” while producing “victims” and bringing them together with an assemblage of advocates, scientists, lawyers and various institutions. Justice movements that draw on international sanctions against the wartime destruction of the environment also reconfigure victims’ subjectivity and reorder their relation to the environment, suffused with the remnants of a tragic past.
Landscapes and bodies scarred by past atrocities also serve as the depositories of memories, in which the traumatic past dwells like a poison that contaminates local residents unbeknownst to them. Such memory-places can be verbalized through recollections or turned into symbolic resources by local communities in the form of memorials or museums. Such sites of memories are often communally shared, just as acts of remembrance often presume and produce communities. But because such “commons of tragedy” also contaminate those communities with stigmas and risks, claims and disclaimers for such sites may reveal subtle negotiations and the aesthetics of remembrance.
In sum, the anthropology of military environment brings together concerns about the political and aesthetic implications of bringing the environment and contaminated bodies onto the center stage of international peace and justice movements. However, anthropology can also contribute by doing what it is best at: writing stories of how military-related environmental destruction leads to human suffering.