I’m very proud of this special issue on Bernard Narokobi

After many years of work by my co-editor Lise Dobrin and myself (well, really, mostly Lise) as well as our authors, I am very proud to announce that we have published a special issue of the Journal of Pacific History on “The Legacy of Bernard Narokobi and the Melanesian Way”.

This is really special for me since I’ve been interested in Narokobi’s thought ever since I first encountered it. He is the kind of thinker who pulls you in. What’s more, I visited Narokobi’s village in the late 1990s when Lise was doing fieldwork there on his native language, Arapesh. I’m so proud to have published it in the JPH, which is such a classic journal and once which I have so often over the years — it’s not too much to say that one of my life goals has been met now that I’ve published there!

This collection is special because of how it deals with all aspects of Narokobi’s life. Jonathan Ritche and I cover the early part of his career. Vergil Narokobi, his son, discusses his legal thought. Philip Gibs discusses Narokobi’s Catholicism, and Ira Bashkow and Greg Bablis help contextualise Narokobi’s life by discussing the context he grew up in, as well as the legacy he left behind.

It was great to have two Papua New Guinean intellectuals involved in this project — and not just any intellectuals, but Arapesh thinkers (including Bernard’s son, Vergil) with kin ties to Narokobi. It’s a testament to Lise’s commitment to Wautogik, Narokobi’s village, that she came to the village decades ago as a linguist to record phonetic barred I and ended up producing this volume. I hope we inspire many other anthropologists and historians from the US to undertake this kind of work in the future.

Enjoy!

Some of my new publications are now available on ResearchGate

For some reason I’ve chosen to put my work on ResearchGate rather than Academia.edu… I’m afraid I don’t have the energy to put everything I write on both sites. But to update you on what I’ve been up to, if you head over there you’ll see I’ve recently uploaded (or linked to) full-texts of the following pieces:

Book Reviews

Journal Articles

In particular I want to showcase my article “Welcoming The New Amateurs”, at the new #openaccess journal Commoning Ethnography. It’s a short piece, but it summarises a lot of my thoughts about the history of our discipline, decolonizing anthropology and how we can use the past, which is always messy and multi stranded, to construct new and useful genealogies for ourselves. My argument is that the history of anthropology in the 1930s in both New Zealand and the United States provides a better model for the more inclusive, less tenure-tracked future of our discipline than the Cold War era does. We need to be aware that a lot of the the things we think of a typical of an academic discipline — tenured positions, research funding, exclusion of amateurs, rigid genre standards, etc. etc. — were part of one phase of our discipline’s history, not a necessary and essential part of our discipline. I don’t think the piece is perfect, but I do hope you’ll give it a read since I worked really hard on it.

The second journal article is an introduction to a special issue on politics in Papua New Guinea. I will (hopefully) blog more about this soon. But if you are interested in this topic, I encourage you to read not just my piece, but the work of authors of this special issue. You can read an open access version of the entire issue at Anthropological Forum’s great website. They do a great job making their content available despite (*cough*) who their publisher is….

Thanks for reading this and, who knows, maybe some of my published work as well!

My new encyclopedia article about Marshall Sahlins is now available… for very wealthy libraries

It took a while, but I have a short encyclopedia entry about Marshall Sahlins in Wiley’s International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. After a long period of being hostile to secondary sources in my youth, I now appreciate high-quality well-curated content (in my youth, there was no Internet, and being deluged in low-quality, random-ass information was not an option). That said, in general I am not a big fan of huge reference projects by for-profit publishers. The put content behind a huuuuge paywall, and the content is of uneven quality by people who are not always the top experts in their area. The days when Malinowski’s encyclopedia entry on culture was THE statement on culture are now long gone. Frankly, I wouldn’t have written for Wiley if it wasn’t for the fact that they asked me to write a piece on my dissertation supervisor. I wanted to make sure Marshall got a good write-up and I felt (perhaps over-optimistically) that I was a better option than others. So I did it. I hope it will be useful to someone someday. Hopefully I’ll get around soon to proving an open access equivalent.

This is part of a continuing series of publications about Marshall I’ve done, which include another encyclopedia article, a festschrift, and a bibliography.

My annotated bibliography of Marshall Sahlins is available

I’m pleased to announce that my annotated bibliography of Marshall Sahlins’s work is now available from Oxford University Press. Although one typo has already been found (!) I’m still very proud of this piece, which I did to show my respect for the chair of my dissertation committee. I’m very satisfied with the result, although it will have to be revised as he continues to publish! I normally would turn down requests from closed-access publishers, but the topic and the form were both too interesting for me to turn down.

My review of Keir Martin’s book is out

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.