New Lives for Old: Cultural Transformation -- Manus, 1928- 1953

New Lives for Old: Cultural Transformation -- Manus, 1928- 1953

New Lives for Old: Cultural Transformation -- Manus, 1928- 1953

New Lives for Old: Cultural Transformation -- Manus, 1928- 1953

Excerpt

I have written this account of my return after twenty-five years to the village of Peri, to the Manus people of the Admiralties, in a way which I hope will make it possible for the reader to share some of my own sense of discovery. There are several themes blended together: the simple excitement of returning after twenty-five years and finding children I had known grown to maturity after having had no news of them in between; the intellectual pleasure of realizing how much we had learned in the last twenty-five years about the relationships between the institutions under which people live and the cultural character which embodies those institutions (this emphasized by the discovery of points to which I had been blind then, but which seemed so obvious now); the sheer detective work of finding out what had "really happened" to transform this small cluster of stone-age headhunters into a community asking for a place in the modern world; and finally, the recognition of what one people, in one place, who had made such a leap could mean to our hopes for the world.

In writing, I have woven my way back and forth, between past and present, as the actual course of the return visit went. On the walls of my house in New Peri, I pasted up a whole set of scenes of the water world of Old Peri, where yesterday's children, and myself twenty-five years younger, still looked through an open doorway into the past. The Manus people and I have the same kind of memory, so that each day was doubly lived, each detail of the present illumined by comparison with the past. For those who prefer to know all there is to be known about one set of circumstances before they have to deal with another, the account of twenty-00AD

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