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Population, Reproduction and Fertility in Melanesia

Population, Reproduction and Fertility in Melanesia

Edited by Stanley J. Ulijaszek
Copyright Date: 2008
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Population, Reproduction and Fertility in Melanesia
    Book Description:

    Human biological fertility was considered a important issue to anthropologists and colonial administrators in the first part of the 20th century, as a dramatic decline in population was observed in many regions. However, the total demise of Melanesian populations predicted by some never happened; on the contrary, a rapid population increase took place for the second part of the 20th century. This volume explores relationships between human fertility and reproduction, subsistence systems, the symbolic use of ideas of fertility and reproduction in linking landscape to individuals and populations, in Melanesian societies, past and present. It thus offers an important contribution to our understanding of the implications of social and economic change for reproduction and fertility in the broadest sense.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-558-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Health Sciences, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures and Tables
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Population Change, Social Reproduction and Local Understandings of Fertility in Melanesia
    (pp. 1-12)
    Stanley J. Ulijaszek

    Three intersecting themes – population, fertility and reproduction – form the basis of this volume. What prompted this collection of essays was the relative lack of recent literature concerning these issues in Melanesia. The majority of the articles published here were papers given in the Fertility and Reproduction Study Group Seminar Series ʹFertility and Reproduction in Melanesiaʹ, at the Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Oxford. The title of the seminar series acknowledged the historical contribution of W.H.R. Rivers (1922a) to population studies in this region, and to update what is known of population size and process since...

  6. CHAPTER 1 Fertility and the Depopulation of Melanesia: Childlessness, Abortion and Introduced Disease in Simbo and Ontong Java, Solomon Islands
    (pp. 13-52)
    Tim Bayliss-Smith

    Melanesia was one of the last regions of the world to be affected by the process of global integration that effectively began in 1492 with the European colonisation of the New World. It was a process accomplished with the aid of ʹGuns, Germs and Steelʹ, to quote the title of Jared Diamondʹs (1997) account. The process spread to Australia and Polynesia in the late eighteenth century, reaching Fiji in about 1810 and some of the islands in western Melanesia in the 1840s. The ʹscramble for the Pacificʹ by European colonial powers reached its climax in the 1890s, and apart from...

  7. CHAPTER 2 The Impacts of Colonialism on Health and Fertility: Western New Britain 1884–1940
    (pp. 53-66)
    C. Gosden

    Approaches to the understanding of colonialism have shifted over the past 20 years, mainly under the impact of post-colonial theory. Earlier views tended towards a ʹfatal impactʹ theory (named after a book by Alan Moorehead, 1966) in which native races of the Pacific were seen as unable to resist the strength of arms, the organisation and desire for riches of European nations. The fatal impact theory contained a notion of blame, but also had implicit within it a view that the strongest would always prevail. What better measure of strength is there than population size? Impacts of Europeans were literally...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Purari Population Decline and Resurgence across the Twentieth Century
    (pp. 67-89)
    Stanley J. Ulijaszek

    As elsewhere in coastal and island New Guinea, population in the Purari delta underwent severe decline after European contact, showing resurgence only across the second half of the twentieth century. While population processes in New Guinea after about 1950 are reasonably mapped, understanding of population change at earlier times remains poor. In this chapter, patterns of population change in one region of lowland Papua, the Purari delta, are described from early colonial times to the year 1996, and possible reasons for the decline and subsequent resurgence examined. It is argued that the population decline in the early colonial period could...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Migration and Fertility of a Small Island Population in Manus: a Long-term Analysis of its Sedentes and Migrants
    (pp. 90-109)
    Yuji Ataka and Ryutaro Ohtsuka

    The second half of the twentieth century has seen rapid population increase, with associated migration from rural to urban areas, in Papua New Guinea (PNG). The population growth rate in the urban sector accelerated especially in the 1960s (Skeldon 1982a), with the majority of rural to urban migrants settling in the national and provincial capitals (Skeldon 1982b; Walsh 1987a, 1987b), resulting in 15.4 percent of the national population living in urban places in 1990. The majority of migrants to urban centres remain for several years or longer, there being negligible seasonal migration. Strong social relations between urban migrants and their...

  10. CHAPTER 5 Fertility and Social Reproduction in the Strickland-Bosavi Region
    (pp. 110-135)
    Monica Minnegal and Peter D. Dwyer

    Individual persons die. Some of their morphological and physiological characteristics may be reproduced in their biological descendants. Some of their behaviours and ideas may be reproduced in other individuals. And so, too, the systems of relations – social and economic arrangements, kinship networks, mythical and symbolic understandings, built environments and so forth – within which they have participated and to which they have contributed may be reproduced long after they have departed. Here, then, the connotation of ʹreproductionʹ is faithful to the etymology of the word: bringing into existence again, producing again, re-production.

    But the word reproduction takes two primary...

  11. CHAPTER 6 ʹEmptinessʹ and Complementarity in Suau Reproductive Strategies
    (pp. 136-158)
    Melissa Demian

    Adoption has long been recognised by anthropologists as a popular reproductive strategy in Oceania (Carroll 1970, Brady 1976), and Papua New Guinea (PNG) is no exception to this tendency. However, while adoption merits at least a mention in many ethnographies of Papua New Guinean societies, it has gone largely untheorised, as though its provisions were self-evident. Where discussions of adoption mechanisms do occur, they mainly appear as ʹversionsʹ of other exchange complexes, particularly in ethnographies of the Massim culture area (e.g. Young 1971, Weiner 1976, Chowning 1983), a part of New Guineaʹs Austronesian-speaking ʹfringeʹ in which adoption is notably prevalent....

  12. CHAPTER 7 Cognitive Aspects of Fertility and Reproduction in Lak, New Ireland
    (pp. 159-181)
    Sean Kingston

    Some time ago, Mosko (1983) coined the term ʹde-conceptionʹ to describe the Mekeo explanation of the way their mortuary rituals disarticulate the social relations between kin groups by unmixing the bloods that were combined to give bodily form to the person on their conception. The term has been taken up by other ethnographers and, particularly in Austronesian areas of Melanesia, usefully highlights the life cycle of the person and body as the scene for the making and unmaking of social relationships. Though we tend to forget, within ʹEuro-Americanʹ culture at least, the meaning of conception, and hence also the implications...

  13. CHAPTER 8 History Embodied: Authenticating the Past in the New Guinea Highlands
    (pp. 182-200)
    Michael OʹHanlon

    Ibegin with two words, former denizens of every seminar but which have since been exorcised so totally from most anthropological discourse that they might never have existed. The two words are: Levi-Strauss.

    For anyone interested in the relationship between artefacts and history – whether or not in the context of thinking about fertility and reproduction – Levi-Straussʹs (1966: 238ff) reflections on the Aboriginal ceremonial boards known aschuringaare characteristically exhilarating. The passage in question follows Levi-Straussʹs contrast between ʹhotʹ and ʹcoldʹ societies: between those (as in the West) that internalise history and make it central to their workings and...

  14. CHAPTER 9 Variations on a Theme: Fertility, Sexuality and Masculinity in Highland New Guinea
    (pp. 201-217)
    Pascale Bonnemère

    From male initiations to pig festivals, from large-scale ceremonial exchanges to tranvestite rites, from spirit cults to fertility rituals, a great variety of ritual forms was once found on the island of New Guinea. Various rituals have tended to be studied separately by social anthropologists – with the exception of initiations and bachelor cults (see Modjeska n.d.), which are both regarded asmalerituals, that is, organized by, performed by and intended mainly formen. Overall, scholars have made little attempt to look for similarities in the underlying sociology of ritual performances or for common patterns of ritual action. Consequently,...

  15. CHAPTER 10 Fertility among the Anga of Papua New Guinea: a Conspicuous Absence
    (pp. 218-238)
    Pierre Lemonnier

    Whereas numerous New Guinea societies are (or were)² famous for their fertility rituals, or for the place occupied by fertility in some of their outstanding institutions and therefore in peopleʹs everyday life, the Anga of Eastern Highlands, Gulf and Morobe provinces of Papua New Guinea have lacked any such collective practice aimed at creating, maintaining or restoring general fertility. Or rather, they limited their interest in the circulation of a life force to very specific, though crucial, domains: the highly visible making of adult men and warriors during male initiations and, for some of them, the unspoken but alarming recycling...

  16. Index
    (pp. 239-246)