I’m happy to say that my review of Victoria Stead’s Becoming Landowners is on available, open access, on the Pacific Affairs website. The sum of the article is: Setting aside my personal fondness for Tori — who is one of the most intellectually alive people I know — I think I can say with impartiality that the book is very good. There were some drawbacks for me: I personally would have preferred that it focus just on PNG, just because I’m a PNG chauvinist. I also think some readers might miscrecognize Stead’s distinction between ‘custom’ and ‘modernity’ as romantic or exorcizing. But this is definitely not the case if you read the book carefully. The book has many more strengths than weaknesses, and I especially appreciated her willingness to point out how often Papua New Guineans get the short end of the stick when it comes to resource development and industry. There is a cynical strand in the PNG literature which she is fighting against — which I probably give in to too often! — and I am really glad that she keeps us honest in this account. Overall, it’s a good book and I hope UH publishes it in a less-expensive and more accessible form.
My book review of Keir Martin’s book The Death of the Big Men and the Rise of the Big Shots is now available in the latest number of Anthropological Forum. I liked Keir’s book a lot and highly recommend it. It clearly establishes him as a major scholar in this area. But I was disappointed that he didn’t flesh out what he means by ‘The West’ and its culturally specific form of individualism more.
Go take a look. You’ll learn a lot about New Ireland, and a fair but about Manchester as well.