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Suffering and Sentiment

Suffering and Sentiment: Exploring the Vicissitudes of Experience and Pain in Yap

Copyright Date: 2010
Edition: 1
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Suffering and Sentiment
    Book Description:

    Suffering and Sentimentexamines the cultural and personal experiences of chronic and acute pain sufferers in a richly described account of everyday beliefs, values, and practices on the island of Yap (Waqab), Federated States of Micronesia. C. Jason Throop provides a vivid sense of Yapese life as he explores the local systems of knowledge, morality, and practice that pertain to experiencing and expressing pain. In so doing, Throop investigates the ways in which sensory experiences like pain can be given meaningful coherence in the context of an individual's culturally constituted existence. In addition to examining the extent to which local understandings of pain's characteristics are personalized by individual sufferers, the book sheds important new light on how pain is implicated in the fashioning of particular Yapese understandings of ethical subjectivity and right action.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94593-7
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Jason Throop
  5. A Brief Note on Transcription, Yapese Orthography, and Data Collection
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. [Maps]
    (pp. xix-xx)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-16)

    There we sat, cross-legged, quietly facing each other with my digital recorder between us. Humidity still clung to the air despite the slight breeze that had arrived with the beginning of sunset. Twilight had brought the anticipated annoyance of mosquitoes; it had also brought a play of light and shadow that made it almost impossible for me to make out Fal’eag’s facial expression in the already darkened space of the community house. Reaching for my basket, I somewhat apprehensively began feeling around for some betel nut to chew. I had come to find such moments of silence between us comforting....

  8. CHAPTER 1 Girdiiq nu Waqab (“People of Yap”)
    (pp. 17-39)

    Avoiding my gaze, Paer looked out over her garden. She had planted this garden close to the house, she said, to reduce the distance she had to walk to get food when her grandson was visiting. Her leg was hurting a lot these days and it was just not possible for her to get to her favorite taro patches and gardens without some help. Her present pain seemed to be evocative of past suffering, however; at that moment our conversation shifted rather abruptly, I thought, to her memories of gardening for Japanese soldiers during the war. “During that war there...

  9. CHAPTER 2 From Land to Virtue
    (pp. 40-67)

    As we sat on the veranda to protect ourselves from the intense afternoon heat, Tina began telling me about her first years living in her husband’s household. When she first came to her husband’s estate she was suffering. She had five cooking pots to take care of: hers and her children’s, her husband’s, his mother’s, his grandfather’s, and his father’s. During this period many families still adhered to the strict food preparation rules in which a husband’s food was prepared and consumed separately from that of his wife and children.¹ She recalled that she was not allowed to set foot...

  10. CHAPTER 3 Sentiment and Social Structure
    (pp. 68-100)

    The three of us had been sitting across from Fanow’s house, talking for the better part of an hour, when Fanow suddenly exclaimed, “Sickness of servants!” She was refl ecting on the pain she had been suffering from the past few years. “They say sickness of servants,” she repeated. Perhaps in response to my apparent confusion, she turned to Manna and went on, “You know, you know that Yapese saying there about us women: ‘You have sickness of servants, because you are sick and you cannot stop working.’ ” Manna, nodding her head in agreement, added, “It doesn’t matter if...

  11. CHAPTER 4 Subjectivity, Embodiment, and Social Action
    (pp. 101-137)

    When I got back to the village, Yinug was alone in the house. Smiling as I approached, he told me there was some food in the kitchen and that I could eat if I was hungry. I declined and asked how he was doing. “Maenigil” (Good), he replied. I noticed that he was wearing his cap, something that he only did when going into town. At the time I found it a little odd, but I did not say anything. I sat down. Yinug sat quietly smoking for a few minutes, getting up occasionally to clean a bit around the...

  12. CHAPTER 5 Privacy, Secrecy, and Agency
    (pp. 138-174)

    Buulyäl said that when she asked her grandfather for the medicine, he waspuwaen’ (“justifiably angry”), although she did not say why. Instead of giving her the ingredients, he told her to go ask her aunt, since she also knew some of the family’s medicines. He warned Buulyäl, however, that there was a possibility that her aunt would not give her theawochean ea falaay(the main active ingredient for the medicine). He told her that the medicine had five ingredients and that if she was not given five, her aunt was not providing her with the true formula. When...

  13. CHAPTER 6 Yapese Configurations of Pain and Suffering
    (pp. 175-193)

    The ocean breeze and the slow rhythmic sound of breaking waves seemed to have a calming effect on Ma’ar as we sat together in the comfortable shade provided by his newly built rest house(koeyeeng).While he still winced when trying to readjust his body to get more support for his back, he seemed much more at ease than he had been when we met earlier that afternoon at his family’s main house, which was located much farther inland. He began speaking again while holding the upper part of his leg for emphasis. “This is something that I only use...

  14. CHAPTER 7 Stories Told
    (pp. 194-234)

    In this chapter I will explore largely retrospective narratives of pain that I collected from eight of the thirty individuals I interviewed for this project. I have chosen to focus upon the narratives of these particular individuals because I believe that they represent a range of variation in orientations to acts of narratively configuring past and ongoing experiences of pain. This range is also evident throughout the interviews that are not drawn upon in the context of this chapter. Moreover, I believe that in order to get a sense of the place of pain in the lives of particular sufferers...

  15. CHAPTER 8 Dysphoric Moments: A Case Study
    (pp. 235-263)

    Lani gently took Tinag’s arm, applied a bit of coconut oil to her hands, and began to feel with her fingers and thumb the length of Tinag’s forearm. She asked Tinag to try turning her arm so that it was flat (i.e., with the palm of the hand directed to the ground). Tinag was in terrible pain and was moving her shoulders and her torso instead of her forearm to try to get her arm in the desired position. Seeing her struggle, Lani gently tried to help turning the arm while Tinag looked away, grunted, and winced. With the arm...

  16. Conclusion
    (pp. 264-284)

    In this book I have sought to demonstrate the pervasive ways in which experiences of pain and suffering are situated in everyday life in Yap. This was accomplished by highlighting pain’s brute existential facticity and by examining a number of key cultural virtues that have bearing on the articulation of experiences of suffering in meaningful moral terms. In the first half of the book I argued that such virtues have implications for defining personhood, interpersonal attachment, sense of place, and the trajectory of familial, social, religious, and political relationships. When understood in relation to other core virtues, such asathamagil...

  17. Notes
    (pp. 285-296)
  18. Glossary of Yapese Terms
    (pp. 297-300)
  19. Bibliography
    (pp. 301-318)
  20. Index
    (pp. 319-329)
  21. Back Matter
    (pp. 330-330)