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Gender in Amazonia and MelanesiaAn Exploration of the Comparative Method$
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Thomas Gregor and Donald Tuzin

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780520228511

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520228511.001.0001

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Reproducing Inequality: The Gender Politics of Male Cults in the Papua New Guinea Highlands and Amazonia

Reproducing Inequality: The Gender Politics of Male Cults in the Papua New Guinea Highlands and Amazonia

Chapter:
(p.69) Four Reproducing Inequality: The Gender Politics of Male Cults in the Papua New Guinea Highlands and Amazonia
Source:
Gender in Amazonia and Melanesia
Author(s):

Aletta Biersack

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520228511.003.0004

This chapter examines some resemblances between Amazonian and Melanesian men's cults. These cults portray the omatisia ritual of the Paiela of the Papua New Guinea highlands as a political act of “reproduction” in which immature boys are “reborn” as fertile adults. Women's fertility is subordinated to the claimed “fertility” of men. Thus, Amazonia and Papua New Guinea societies share ritual paraphernalia such as flutes and bullroarers, as well as “sexual antagonism” and, in particular, men's hostility to and fear of women. Also, in both societies, the rituals appear to be part and parcel of women's subjection. The chapter furthermore takes a look at the metaphysical foundations of the gender politics of male cults. Finally, it takes a turn from the society glimpsed through sexual hierarchies and their production and reproduction, to religion, returning to the related matters of gender, death, and time in indigenous life philosophies.

Keywords:   male cults, fertility, omatisia ritual, gender politics, reproduction

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