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Melanesianist Anthropology in the Era of Globalization

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Title: Melanesianist Anthropology in the Era of Globalization
Authors: Foster, Robert J.
Keywords: anthropology
ethnography
fieldwork
globalization
Melanesia
show 1 morePapua New Guinea
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LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.
Issue Date: 1999
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Foster, R. J. 1999. Melanesianist Anthropology in the Era of Globalization. The Contemporary Pacific 11 (1): 140-59.
Abstract: What is the agenda of Melanesianist anthropology in the era of globalization? I
advocate thinking of Melanesia as a site for the ongoing configuration of global
flows of images and ideas, capital and commodities, people and technology. The
historical and cultural contingencies of this configuration define the specificity of
Melanesia. In other words, this configuration defines Melanesia as something
less like a fixed geographic location or broad culture area and more like a localized
concentration of shifting, not-always-symmetrical social networks within a
global web of such networks. Accordingly, a Melanesianist anthropology would
ask how social linkages and relationships—old and new—channel a traffic in
meaningful forms that is more or less continuous with previous patterns. It
would ask, What altered and alternative forms of culture, community, and
personhood are emerging at the site called Melanesia?
I accordingly propose how a Melanesianist anthropology might evolve by
studying the (re)organization of social relationships effected through linkages
into unprecedented and large-scale networks. Such an anthropology entails
mobile, multi-sited ethnographic research geared toward tracking and tracing
global flows as well as intensive, locally committed fieldwork sensitive to the
varieties of globalized experience. The paper reviews some of the relevant intellectual
resources available to Melanesianist anthropologists and considers the
implications of globalization for ethnographic fieldwork.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/13260
ISSN: 1043-898X
Appears in Collections:TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1999 - Volume 11, Number 1



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