Accepted paper:

Dividual Places on Vanua Lava, Vanuatu

Author:

Sabine Hess (University of Heidelberg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper approaches the concept of place through the lens of Marylin Strathern’s notion of the dividual. If Melanesian persons can be described as dividuals, and if land is as crucial to a persons identity as literature on Melanesia suggests, then do not places also have this dividual quality?

Paper long abstract:

This paper approaches the concept of place through the lens of Marylin Strathern's notion of the dividual. If Melanesian persons can be described as dividuals, and if land is as crucial to a persons identity as literature on Melanesia suggests, then do not places also have this dividual quality? Thinking of relations to land - and especially ways of inheriting 'rights' to land, - in a dividual framework offers new perspectives on issues and disputes about land transmission. But land is not just inherited for subsistence. The passing on of knowledge about places is equally important. Places, especially magic sites, have agency, and like people have the ability to permeate a person causing them to be dangerous to some, or attractive to others. What a place can do, who will know or be affected, lies at the heart of Strathern's suggestion that cause and agency can be split. Permeability and dividuality go together for persons and for places.

panel P17
Anthropological relationships as appropriations and investments: ASA-sponsored panel in honour of Marilyn Strathern