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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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Damming the Rivers of Milk? Fertility, Sexuality, and Modernity in Melanesia and Amazonia

Damming the Rivers of Milk? Fertility, Sexuality, and Modernity in Melanesia and Amazonia

(p.175) Eight Damming the Rivers of Milk? Fertility, Sexuality, and Modernity in Melanesia and Amazonia
Gender in Amazonia and Melanesia

Margaret Jolly

University of California Press

In both Melanesia and Amazonia, cultures vary in the extent to which they bring men and women together in creative relationships or separate them as antithetical and opposed. Cultures of the northwest Amazon find striking resemblances to Melanesia in the stress of life and growth, which is punctuated and perpetuated by periods of sexual separation and continence, and in the specific connections between foodstuffs and the human body. This chapter addresses the question of reimagining the relation of gender, sexuality, and reproduction in Melanesian ethnography. It explores their connection in the literatures on “concepts of conception,” “sexual antagonism,” “pollution,” male/fertility cults, and ritual homosexuality. The chapter concludes by stating that, in both Melanesia and Amazonia, sexuality and reproduction flow into each other and are part of a broader confluence of indigenous philosophies about the cosmic sources of life, health, and growth, and of death, decay, and degeneration.

Keywords:   Melanesia, Amazonia, sexuality, fertility, conception, sexual antagonism

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