Conceiving Cultures: Reproducing People and Places on Nuakata, Papua New Guinea
Publisher: University of Michigan Press | ISBN: 0472098284 | edition 2003 | PDF | pages 352 | 1,58 mb
Conceiving Cultures reflects on the ways anthropologists come to understand and represent the people and cultures that they study. These ideas are developed through an ethnographic study that explores notions of the gendered person through knowledge of and practices relating to reproductive health on the Massim island of Nuakata in Papua New Guinea. In a distinct and engaging style, Shelley Mallett describes the ways that Massim women manage their reproductive health and notes the tensions that arise as they negotiate a path between conflicting local traditions and state-sponsored, Western-style medical practices. The interaction among local women, a community health worker, and practitioners of traditional medicine provides a focus for reflection on the impact of Western medical knowledge and practices on local ideas concerning gender, person, body, spirit, individuality, agency, and mortality.
By conjoining problems of reproductive health with feminist and anthropological theories on the gendered person and the political/ethical dilemmas of writing cultures, this book makes a unique contribution to contemporary theorizing about these cross-disciplinary debates. The text asserts the legitimate place of reflexive, if not autobiographic, ethnographic genres, especially in studies of person, place, and gender relations.
Shelley Mallett is Research Fellow, the Australian Research Centre in Sex Health and Society, La Trobe University, Melbourne.