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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

The Power of Stories

The Power of Stories

(p.157) Chapter Seven The Power of Stories
Just Talk

Karen J. Brison

University of California Press

This chapter examines the ways in which unsubstantiated stories become “truth” in Kwanga villages. It moves beyond examining rumor to investigate ways in which stories about recent events influence people's interpretation of future events and their memories of the past, and can ultimately constitute much of their knowledge about their social world. Rumors are one such type of story; stories told in public meetings can have similar careers. The chapter argues that sorcery talk among the Kwanga is an instance of a much more pervasive kind of behavior which occurs everywhere. Sorcery deaths in Kwanga villages represent situations which are both anxiety provoking and ambiguous par excellence: deaths are anxiety provoking because they usually indicate to people that a murderer is at large in the community, and also have the potential to lead to violence as the aggrieved family searches for a culprit.

Keywords:   stories, truth, Kwanga, villages, future, memories, sorcery, deaths, violence

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