Book reviews and review essays

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

Oceania 87(2):231-232

…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

Marginalia: A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel

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

Oceania 86(2): 210-211

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 […]

Marshall Sahlins, What Kinship Is–And Is Not

The Asia-Pacific Journal of Anthropology 15(3): 289-292

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 […]

Matt Tomlinson and Debra McDougall (eds.), Christian Politics in Oceania

The Australian Journal of Anthropology 24(3): 357-359

Matt Tomlinson and Debra McDougall (eds.), Christian Politics in Oceania, New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2013. In his 1843 book review, ‘On The Jewish Question’, Marx argues that while the liberal state claims to liberate people from religious constraints by giving them rights as citizens, it in fact replaces one constraint with another by […]

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

Comparative Studies in Society and History 55(3): 756-757

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

Anthropological Quarterly 85(4): 1257-1267

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 […]