Nils Bubandt, The Empty Seashell: Witchcraft and Doubt on an Indonesian Island (Review)

…Bubandt’s book is … a highly original contribution to debates around the ontological turn. The witch does not only raise a problem of knowledge and belief, but of what we mean by being, since it cannot itself be. It remains invisible and is capable of appearing in many different forms. The witch cannot be known, […]

Kinship with God: Indigenous Christianity in an Amazonian World (Review)

In her latest book, Praying and Preying, cultural anthropologist Aparecida Vilaça examines how the Wari’, an indigenous society of Amazonia, became Evangelical Christians, and what they discovered about Christianity that Western missionaries did not know. For many years, Vilaça has conducted ethnographic research among Wari’, whose villages lie in reservations in the Pacaás Novos river […]

Debra McDougall, Engaging with Strangers: Love and Violence in Rural Solomon Islands (Review)

When a boat left the shores of Australia to return hundreds of Melanesian laborers to their homes in the South Sea Islands, deportees were heard to shout from the deck ‘Good-bye Queensland, good-bye white Australia, good-bye Christians’ (‘The deportation of Kanakas’, Wagga Wagga Express, 29 August 1907, p. 2). It is hard to say whether […]

Birds Will Cover the Sky: Humiliation and Meaning in Two Historical Narratives from Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea

This article examines how the people of Auhelawa, a society on the south coast of Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea, make use of two historical figures—one a warrior, the other a police officer—to represent the nature of social transformation. In different ways, the stories of these heroes produce a dichotomous temporality of a time of […]

Liana Chua, The Christianity of Culture: Conversion, Ethnic Citizenship, and the Matter of Religion in Malaysian Borneo (Review)

Liana Chua, The Christianity of Culture: Conversion, Ethnic Citizenship, and the Matter of Religion in Malaysian Borneo. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Liana Chua’s ethnography attempts to answer the question why people who call themselves Christians would maintain continuity with a religion that they themselves identify as a traditional relic. The people she describes are […]

The Border in the Eye of the Beholder: Interculturalism in the Pacific (Review)

For more than a generation, anthropology has struggled with where to locate its object in space and time. On the one hand, ethnography has become unabashedly global and historical in scope; yet, on the other, anthropologists have never been content to set local cases against a larger background without also questioning how these levels and […]

‘Sit, Cook, Eat, Full Stop:’ Religion and the Rejection of Ritual in Auhelawa (Papua New Guinea)

The Auhelawa people of Normanby Island (Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea) typically observe the death of an individual through a series of feasts in which the lineage of the deceased and its lateral relatives exchange food and perform rituals of mourning. Recently, a number of people have decided to reject all forms of ‘custom’ […]