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The Magical Body: Power, Fame and Meaning in a Melanesian Society by Richard Eves Review by: Roy Wagner The

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, Vol. 8, No. 2 (Jun., 2002), pp. 414-415 Published by: Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland Stable URL: . Accessed: 05/04/2012 20:09
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but there are tantalizing hints throughout as to their importance. Amsterdam: Harwood Academic. but the statement (p. MICHAELSON MAUREEN tional rigour that they are a surprise to be seen in print.can such an exercise ever be successful? He ignores internal divisions within the Indian population. like other Melanesian peoples. So although the book profiles a standard ethnographic organization in its chapters. demographic. 7()). Twaddle). Most writers on the Mandak have given quite as much attention to the breakdown of that challenge into local. This contrasts with the more conventional view of diaspora communities as found in Mohammed's description of the United States ( contribute to and potentially reflect an integral totality.fame and meanitngin a Melanesian society. RICHARD. Kelly's analysis of the change of identity from 'coolie' to 'Indian' in Fiji is obfuscated by excessive jargon.g. Kelly's 'essay in historical ethnography' (p. 302 pp. ethnic. while never underestimating the complexity of the Indian population.. Nave also wants to locate and 'describe the basic mechanism by which ethnic relations abide' and tries to reduce this to a scientific formula. The first two contributions. 64). This prompts the thought that historical accounts gloss over cultural and other differences within a population simply because this type of information would not have been written about in primary sources. 1998. The conflicting accounts of Leonard and Waseem of migrants to Pakistan can perhaps be attributed precisely to this difference in focus. material. political. Though of course the Mandak themselves. It is hard to imagine who the intended audience of this paper is. were in fact Gujarati barristers sent by Gandhi.0( (cloth) Mandak speakers constitute one of New Ireland's largest pluralities. who supposedly did not identifv with India. 46) leaves us with this dilemma . ethnic groups. it also emerges that the two leaders who negotiated with the government. by Kelly and Nave. with its very clear exposition of historical. topical. This begs the questions of how and why these two educated outsiders were legitimized as spokesmen for the uneducated 'native' Indo-Fijians. totalizing parameters.414 BOOK REVIEWS hand knowledge of East Africa from preindependence. . might never understand it that way. what Brenda Clay has termed 'Mandak realities'. Yet by reading between the lines in some of the more historical accounts.. where the Indian population was highly diverse. Besides his disregard for the strength of'communal' difference. It was hoped that the book would provide a corrective to anthropological accounts which focus on internal divisions within immigrant populations without always taking into account external political events. treating an exhaustive series of conceptual issues that might be considered . bibliogr. maps. It is only in a footnote (no. In this same footnote. might dissuade readers from persisting with the book. the contributions reinforce the stereotypical differences in approach. She skilfully incorporates information about the political vicissitudes of the twentieth century. Twaddle's paper on communalism in East Africa rakes over old ground. 89) that '[e]thnic groups constitute endogamous populations' is one example. whilst also being fronma disliked section of the population. A clue is in Kelly's stated 'shock' about the concept of jatis as communities of struggle (p. he also ignores caste and kinship ties with India. it can be seen that a blindness to divisions within communities can lead the authors to lose sight of important factors in their ability or otherwise to form cohesive units (e. illus. 293). Kelly. 7) that these are grudgingly touched upon. and prefer to speak of 'power' or 'empowerment'. The mtagical body: power. and historical issues. So it should come as no surprise that the format of this book is necessarily episodic.each in its own way . are New Ireland's last remaining interior population. f36. one of whom Kelly feels 'could have changed Fiji's history radically' (p. He believes that it had not always been the case that communalism was strong. and things could have turned out differently if the government had not introduced restrictive legislation. There are too many of these to list. where she describes how separate organizations constituted along specific regional and religious lines followed 'the typical process of segmentation into smaller units as soon as the group becomes larger'. and social. circumstances are to be understood in terms of the peoples' own conceptualizations of them. economic. But the question of how their practical. subjects of this book. Far from meeting its aim of synthesizing historical and anthropological viewpoints. The few hundred Mandak inhabiting the Lelet Plateau. which were significant aspects of the lives of Indian populations there. that is. and identity. but is useful from the perspective of his own first- EVES. Thiara presents an accomplished survey of South Africa. poses a most compelling challenge. Another exemplary chapter is Leonard's on Hyderabadis in Pakistan. The chapter by Nave on Mauritius contains sweeping generalizations and highly questionable definitions of basic concepts such as culture. and generational cleavages. political. as to its larger. xxii. and certainly are the most frequently studied among them.

A conflation of the two. Gudeman counters that economy is the process by which sets of people produce. following that of the Mandak. Gudeman's model . The anthropology of economy:community.00 (cloth). all they want is a roof over their heads'. index. Oxford. and very familiar to anthropologists. I was flagged down by a local gardener. on the quality and character of motion with respect to them. Gudeman counters that the basis is the social group. Western and otherwise. What are the earth and the moon. Economics defines economy commonly as the allocation of scare resources to alternative ends.g. after all. supernatural beings. 2001. 'evidence') is in doubt. During my own fieldwork among the Mandak's southern neighbours I became quite accustomed to cliches like 'the Mandak have no kastam [i. and Derrida have made them focal to much of postmodern discourse. Much of the closing decades of the twentieth century looked like a celebration of a triumphal form of economy and economics in Western societies and much of the rest of the world. following Levi-Strauss.There has been some efflorescence. Malden: Blackwell. Stephen Gudeman is such a figure. as we Americans might say. figs. exchange and social organization. a regime of thought and action whose goals and whose very means are deliberately understated. in Eves's treatment of these ancient themes is his emphasis. 'female fight' to the Mandak) is highly concrete for these people. the themes of'body' and 'embodiment' are hardly new in Western thought. But what Eves shows us in this monograph is an underdeterminedsociality. it culminates with feasting. What stands as distinctive. generating individual and group identity and relations. or is conflicted.viii. even in the fairly secretive practices of a Melanesian 'power' complex. Although writers like Bourdieu. One day while driving through the southern Mandak region. together with other conceptions. one would have expected an efflorescence of economic anthropology. bibliogr.'that there must be a point between the earth and the moon where the gravities of the two bodies are exactly equal.99 (paper) GUDEMAN. but 'flying stones'? Nothing in the theoretical purview of the physical sciences has been more nearly taken for granted than the mystery of motion. 415 that might epitomize Mandak ethos may in itself be a key to what is going on here. but it also incorporates a range of material from other parts of the world. and to my mind quite remarkable. Given the discipline's distrust of generalist approaches. better said.has foundations that run counter to received wisdom. expectable. 'approach' . The result is fluent. That sort of disparagement is. and the only real danger would be to take them for granted.' I left in a daze. 550. summarizing it is beyond the scope of this review.' Much of the inspiration in social scientific thinking concerns the determination of societal ends and means. 189 pp.marketand culture. that might be an anthropological alternative to a general economic theory. taro and the magic of gardening. and nothing in that of the social sciences than the mysteries of social empowerment. Foucault. Ren6 Descartes was positively obsessed with them. a sub-discipline with detailed knowledge of how economic activity works. see exchange as the basic social process.. As one would expect. of course. and a highly distinctive form of empowerment that Eves calls 'the creation of memory'.. to an unexplicated 'physics' that underlies much of what these people consider to be the power of magic and ritual. the Mandak might be into something much more interesting than kastam.' he said.e. and The anthropology of economy is the result.perhaps. Given this. with scarcely a preamble. 'It seems to me.BOOK REVIEWS proceeding from considerations of the physical body and social personhood through those of colonialism and the creation of 'religion'. 'Seating the taro'.'never had it so good. it draws extensively on his own work in Latin America. such a work probably would have to come from a senior figure in the field. circulate. The point is even more strongly emphasized in his doctoral thesis. such as 'flying stones'. and maintain the bases of their social and material lives. ROY WAGNER University of Virginia STEPHEN. which necessarily means also what he calls its 'base'. though if one of the secrets of power is that of its own self-concealment. and in fact gendered. betrays quite interesting possibilities. the group's collective . a tendency that quickly spills over into overdetermination when confirmation (e. but little sign of models that might claim to a broad applicability. ?14. realizing that I had been talking to an expert in celestial mechanics. 'Embodiment'. but because it is far-reaching and complex. "culture"] at all. Many anthropologists. Except that the power of laram('gravity' to us. Otherwise familiar in the memorial art of the malanggan. someone familiar with both Western and non-Western forms of economic activity and ways of talking about that activity. The fact that it might otherwise be very difficult to establish a 'pattern of culture'. this preoccupation of much New Ireland ritual acquires a new significance in Eves's treatment of'the magical body'. It belongs.. a central conceptual emphasis among so many.