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Raiding the Land of the Foreigners: The Limits of the Nation on an Indonesian Frontier (review)

Raiding the Land of the Foreigners: The Limits of the Nation on an Indonesian Frontier (review) book and media reviews I fundamentally disagree with Herdt when he asserts: "To interpret ritual secrecy as a lie or hoax, or primarily as a sham or game, was to underrate the wonderfully terrifying complexities of Melanesian precolonial life" (220). Those accused of this sin (Barth, Hogbin, Tuzin, and Read) have produced some of the richest ethnography of men's house cultures. Herdt cannot accept ethnography that documents the ambiguous and ambivalent nature of public secrecy, the nature of the complicities (and the complicity with complicity) that made social life possible. All Melanesia is assimilated to his Sambian model of ritual secrecy as progressively disclosing truths. Here Herdt suffers from the sin he projects onto those he accuses of having "ignored the social contradictions of these sociocultural systems, so rich and intricately layered in public and secret subjectivities and practices" (220). Herdt briefly touches on what other anthropologists were tapping into, namely, a pride and pleasure by men in successfully staging ritual secrets, but this homosocial pleasure in male artifice is never ontologically explored. Why couldn't this self-reflexive pleasure in one's ability to stage and produce a virtual world not also imply an ontology of the need for fictions, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Contemporary Pacific University of Hawai'I Press

Raiding the Land of the Foreigners: The Limits of the Nation on an Indonesian Frontier (review)

The Contemporary Pacific , Volume 17 (1) – Jan 27, 2005

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2005 University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-9464
Publisher site
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Abstract

book and media reviews I fundamentally disagree with Herdt when he asserts: "To interpret ritual secrecy as a lie or hoax, or primarily as a sham or game, was to underrate the wonderfully terrifying complexities of Melanesian precolonial life" (220). Those accused of this sin (Barth, Hogbin, Tuzin, and Read) have produced some of the richest ethnography of men's house cultures. Herdt cannot accept ethnography that documents the ambiguous and ambivalent nature of public secrecy, the nature of the complicities (and the complicity with complicity) that made social life possible. All Melanesia is assimilated to his Sambian model of ritual secrecy as progressively disclosing truths. Here Herdt suffers from the sin he projects onto those he accuses of having "ignored the social contradictions of these sociocultural systems, so rich and intricately layered in public and secret subjectivities and practices" (220). Herdt briefly touches on what other anthropologists were tapping into, namely, a pride and pleasure by men in successfully staging ritual secrets, but this homosocial pleasure in male artifice is never ontologically explored. Why couldn't this self-reflexive pleasure in one's ability to stage and produce a virtual world not also imply an ontology of the need for fictions,

Journal

The Contemporary PacificUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Jan 27, 2005

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