[Social Change in Melanesia: Development & History]

By Sillitoe, Paul; McPherson, Naomi M. | Anthropologica, January 1, 2001 | Go to article overview

[Social Change in Melanesia: Development & History]


Sillitoe, Paul, McPherson, Naomi M., Anthropologica


A companion volume to the author's An Introduction to the Anthropology of Melanesia (1998, Cambridge University Press) focussed on "traditional cultural orders," this volume offers an anthropological perspective on issues common to contemporary Melanesian societies. Always aware of the extent of diversity in Melanesia, each chapter provides an overview of an issue illustrated by a specific case study, most of which are situated in Papua New Guinea.

Chapter 1, "Change and Development," sets up the theoretical framework, the concept of social change, and the contribution of anthropology to understanding social change in Melanesia. Key concepts such as economic development, modernization theory, dependency theory are critically defined and the notion of an applied anthropology is succinctly flailed. Social change here focuses on 'forced" change occasioned by 200 years of colonial intrusions and acculturation in Melanesia. Chapter 2, "The Arrival of the Europeans," briefly reviews the history of colonial contact economically (whalers, traders and blackbirders), spiritually (missionaries) and politically (the annexation of territory and development of administrative infrastructures to claim and properly extract the region's resources). To counter this European (Orientalist) interpretation of interaction with Melanesian peoples and cultures, Chapter 3 offers "another history" from the perspectives and perceptions of the Wola whose first experience of European intrusion in their lives came in the guise of the Hides and O'Malley patrol into the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea in 1936. The two accounts differ radically; however, this "democratization of representations" both acknowledges and celebrates differences and permits a more complex and nuanced rendering of the same historical events. In the process, it enhances understanding and tolerance of cultural differences. From here the text focuses on Melanesian understandings of and responses to technological innovation (chapters 4-6), the economic and social consequences of technological change (chapters 7-10), and indigenous rationalisations of the socioeconomic changes (chapters 11-14).

Chapter 4 explores technological change and economic growth to show that, contrary to assumptions of Western economic development theory, new technologies and social conditions do not propel less developed countries along the same developmental trajectory experienced by the West consequent with the industrial revolution. This is a succinct discussion of technological innovations and, from the perspective of modernization theory, failed economic development. The assumptions of modernization theory are also subjected to a "democratization of representations" in order to understand social obstacles and cultural attitudes that might explain the failure of development initiatives and, conversely, to understand indigenous factors that might create incentives that facilitate economic development. Contextualized in a discussion of the traditional system of land tenure and use rights, kinship and community, Chapter 5 considers the ethnocentric assumptions embedded in modernization theory and its failure to consider local responses and accommodations to social change. Land is central to Melanesians, and the point is made clearly that disrupting traditional land tenure systems undermines the very existence of social groups and communities. The question "development for whom?" enjoins those involved in development schemes to consider "what they are doing and why" (p. 89).

Situating the discussion within the coffee-growing regions of Eastern Highlands Province, Chapter 6 looks at whether the characteristics of the traditional big men comprise a positive model for emerging entrepreneurial businessmen. The answer is no. Successful businessmen are individualistic and invest in their own enterprises. They act contrary to big men ideals embedded in the obligations of reciprocity which militate against the accumulation of individual wealth, capital and profit. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

[Social Change in Melanesia: Development & History]
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.