The Meaning of Whitemen
Race and Modernity in the Orokaiva Cultural World
While Papua New Guinea’s resident white population has been severely reduced due to postcolonial white flight, the whiteman remains a significant racial and cultural other here—not only as an archetype of power and wealth in the modern arena, but also as a foil for people’s evaluations of themselves within vernacular frames of meaning. As Ira Bashkow explains, ideas of self versus other need not always be anti-humanistic or deprecatory, but can be a creative and potentially constructive part of all cultures.
A brilliant analysis of whiteness and race in a non-Western society, The Meaning of Whitemen turns traditional ethnography to the purpose of understanding how others see us.
“We are one of the others. Deconstructing the ancient sociology of in-group versus out-group, this finely observed and brilliantly interpreted ethnography of a New Guinea people’s conceptions of whitemen fashions a powerful new paradigm for the study of intercultural relations. Incidentally, damn good reading.”--Marshall Sahlins
“In the very best tradition of anthropology, this is a book that will force readers to confront their settled understandings and rethink many things they thought they knew about the cultural construction of racial formations and about whiteness as a global phenomenon. A milestone in the anthropology of the Pacific, this is quite simply a great book to think with.”--Joel Robbins, author of Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society
Note on Orthographic Conventions
1. Introduction: The Cultural Construction of Whitemen
2. Cultural World, Postcolonial Situation
3. The Lightness of Whitemen
4. The Bodies of Whitemen
5. The Foods of Whitemen
6. Conclusion: Whitemen Beyond