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 […]

A Grandparent Ghost Story from Lakalai, Papua New Guinea

I am doing research on a story about grandparents and ancestors from Lakalai (West New Britain, PNG). I first read about it in a paper by the anthropologist C. A. Valentine (1965). In Valentine’s telling, there was an elderly Lakalai woman who died. After her death, her spirit continued to watch over her living grandchild. […]

Marshall Sahlins, What Kinship Is–And Is Not (Review)

In this book, Marshall Sahlins expands on his recent two-part article in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute on the nature of kinship and his reply to critics. As a work of theoretical argument, it stands out in anthropology for two main reasons. First, it is an extended essay rather than a monograph, which is relatively […]

Mobility and last names: Predictably, kinship is mistaken for genes, again

I read a recent op-ed in the New York Times, “Your Ancestors, Your Fate,” by Gregory Clark the other day. I can’t wait to talk about it in my kinship class next semester. It was a fascinating argument that kinship links have deep, lasting effects on individuals. Much as the social network analysis of the […]