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Title: Dangerous Objects: Changing Indigenous Perceptions of Material Culture in a Papua New Guinea Society
Authors: Barker, John
Issue Date: Oct-2001
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Barker J. 2001. Dangerous objects: changing indigenous perceptions of material culture in a Papua New Guinea society. Pac Sci 55(4): 359-375.
Abstract: In this article I examine the ways that the Maisin people of Oro
Province in Papua New Guinea have understood and deployed objects of their
material culture over the course of a century of interactions with European
outsiders. In the early years of the twentieth century, an Anglican missionary
noted local attitudes toward certain significant objects. Some of these objects
likely became part of a large collection he made for the Australian Museum. I
compare his observations with my own, made in the course of ethnographic
fieldwork some 70 years later. The comparison shows that Maisin during both
periods identified certain objects as emblems of kinship identity and others as
dangerous, as materials for sorcery. However, Maisin attitudes toward these and
other objects have been strongly influenced over the decades through encounters
and dialogues with outsiders, particularly missionaries in the past and, more
recently, environmentalists and museum curators.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 55, Number 4, 2001

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