"It's all about the blood": eating the head food: the cultural indebtedness of the North Fore

Glass, Rosalind Dawn (2011) "It's all about the blood": eating the head food: the cultural indebtedness of the North Fore. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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This contemporary perspective on the North Fore of Moke village, Okapa sub-district, of the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea, examines the life-cycle events associated with matrilateral 'head-payments'. Following Weiner (1980), I argue that the 'head-pay' system is 'an integrated cyclic system based upon reproduction, replacement and regeneration'. In applying the wider lens of the 'head-pay' system women, as sisters, emerge as the pivot for these kin-based affinal exchanges. For the brother-sister sibling set and the mother's brothers' sister's child relationship are united through flows of inalienable maternal substance. It is the partial and qualified inalienability of maternal substance that drives the 'head-pay' system. It is marriage and the payment of a woman's brideprice that generates the entire system of' 'head-payments'. These various payments define the person and their identity as transactable.

These matri-payments and the series of rituals associated with menstruation, marriage, birthing, adoption, and the mourning process are examined, as profoundly gendered. Indeed I argue gender is fundamental to analysing Fore notions of personhood which is 'properly' orientated socially and morally. For women, their moral obligations are encapsulated within their phrase a fit meri which covers the entire range of socially orientated female practices. I follow Stewart & Strathern's (2002b) alternate approach to gender relations and argue that women's bodily practices are linked to cosmological beliefs. Moreover, following Gillison's (1993) analysis of the Gimi 'head-pay' system, I argue that the 'head-pay' system is of cosmological origin.

Item ID: 28072
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: birth; bride price; brideprice; cultural anthropology; cultural practices; customs; death; debts; ethnography; ethnology; gender; genderise; genderize; head-pay; head-payments; kinship; marriage; mourning; North Fore; obligations; Papua New Guinea; Papua New Guineans; PNG; reciprocity; rites; rituals; traditions
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2013 00:21
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2002 Cultural Studies > 200210 Pacific Cultural Studies @ 20%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 80%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society @ 100%
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