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Just TalkGossip, Meetings, and Power in a Papua New Guinea Village$
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Karen Brison

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780520077003

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520077003.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

Gossip and Politics

Gossip and Politics

(p.1) Chapter One Gossip and Politics
Just Talk

Karen J. Brison

University of California Press

This chapter argues that rumors reflect a situation in which unsubstantiated stories can have far-reaching consequences socially and in politics. In Kwanga villages, and in small, relatively egalitarian communities everywhere, no one can automatically command respect or obedience, and autocratic attitudes tend to arouse resentment. Consequently, people try to prompt others toward certain conclusions and courses of action without seeming to do so, by casting interpretations of recent events in public meetings or in private conversations. They suggest that their rivals are lazy and ignorant, or that they are involved in nefarious secret plots. In this way, individuals try to influence others but avoid the appearance of ordering them around. It has been clear since Bronisław Malinowski's work on the Trobriand Islands that there is a close link between sorcery, magic, and leadership in many areas of lowland and insular Melanesia.

Keywords:   rumors, politics, Kwanga, respect, Bronisław Malinowski, Trobriand Islands, sorcery, magic, leadership, Melanesia

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