Bamford - CONCEIVING RELATEDNESS NON—SUBSTANTIAL...

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Unformatted text preview: CONCEIVING RELATEDNESS: NON—SUBSTANTIAL RELATIONS AMONG THE KAMEA OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA SANDRA BAMFORD University of Toronto at Scarborough This article considers the implications of imagining kinship as a non—embodied relation. ‘" In recent years, it has become commonplace to argue that relatedness is a gradually acquired state that can be built over time and by non—sexual means. In this View, rela— tionships of consanguinity are not given at birth but are created through purposeful acts - of feeding and caring. Here, I address a question that has been less commonly asked by anthropologists: need kinship always be imagined as entailing an embodied connection? Is there a way of thinking about cross—generational relationships that does not ground them in bodily connectedness, or, at the very least, one that imagines contexts in which they are not embodied as a substantial link between people? Drawing upon data col— lected among Kamea of Papua New Guinea, I describe a world in which the parent— child tie is conceptualized as one that is inherently non—embodied. In 1997, Julie Garber — a California property developer — became the first woman in history to achieve the dubious distinction of nearly becoming a mother from beyond the grave. Three years earlier, the 26—year—old woman had learned that she was suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Before embarking on a course of chemotherapy that would leave her infertile, she arranged with a sperm bank to have a dozen of her eggs fertilized and the resulting embryos frozen (Pepper 1996; Peres 1997a; 1997b; Weiss 1998). Her hope was to have them implanted in her uterus after recovery. When Garber died, her parents hired a surrogate mother to bring their daughter’s unges— tated offspring to term - an act which they said fulfilled one of Julie’s last wishes. The plan was to give any resulting offspring to one of their remain— ing children to bring up. After three attempts, the scheme came to an abrupt end in December 1997, when the last ofjulie’s embryos was rejected by the surrogate mother’s body several weeks into the pregnancy (Siegelitzkovich 1998). Although the Garbers’ decision to carry their daughter’s child to term raised serious ethical questions,1 the practice of harvesting gametes from the deceased has become fairly commonplace in Europe and North America. A survey in 1997 found that fourteen clinics in the United States had honoured requests for sperm to be collected from the recently deceased (Andrews 1999a).2 Cappy Rothman, a leading advocate of the use of this technology, © Royal Anthropological Institute 2004.. Roy. anthrop. Inst. (N.S.) 10, 287—306 27 288 SANDRA BAMFORD defended the practice before a 1997 session of the New York legislature where the question under debate was whether to allow the sperm of a man to be used without his expressed prior consent. Rothman argued that there is less grief for the wife and family members of the deceased if his sperm is pre— served (Andrews 1999b: 227). He told legislators: In one case where a man died by gunshot and I collected his sperm, his family followed me to the sperm bank and were consoled by seeing his motile sperm under the micro— scope. To console families in that way at a time of grief and tragedy is clearly part of my responsibility as a healer (quoted in Andrews 199917: 227). The practice of posthumous reproduction helps to highlight several impor- tant suppositions that exist at the heart of Euro—American kinship configura— ~> tions. The first is the idea that individuals (re)produce individuals:3 hence using the gametes of a deceased loved one for procreative purposes allows sur— vivors to imagine that they have not been ‘lost’ to them forever. The second >‘tis the idea that reproduction entails the replication of individual traits — an act that is believed to be carried forward through the transmission of procre- ative substance across generations.Taken together, these assumptions give rise *to a host of related ideas. In particular, they privilege the parent—child tie as the nexus of social reproduction, and they prompt us to imagine cross— generational connections as necessarily involving an embodied link between individuals. Drawing upon data collected among Kamea — a Highland Papua New Guinea (PNG) group with whom I conducted thirty—one months of ethno— graphic research — this article considers an alternative cultural logic. In contrast to Europeans and North Americans, Kamea do not rely upon rephysiological reproduction as a means of grounding social relationships through time. Despite my repeated efforts to ground intergenerational rela— tionships in a procreative bond, the people I knew were very insistent upon the fact that neither a mother nor a father shares substance in common with their offspring. The tie between a parent and child is imagined as an inher— ently non—embodied one.This article should therefore be seen as an extended case study of how the world looks from a perspective very different from that represented in much of the standard ethnographic literature. On the relevance of substance I begin this exploration of Kamea conceptions with a brief anecdote. I had been living in the Kamea region for about two weeks when Bernadette — the local woman who had been acting as my guide and interpreter at the time — arrived one morning to tell me that she would not be able to assist me that day. Her ‘nose’ had died, she explained, and as a consequence she had an endless array of obligations that required her immediate attention.With a little f prompting, I soon learned that Kamea liken one’s cross—cousin to one’s ‘nose’ and that the relationship between cousins is intense and encapsulates a range of significant cultural meanings. Since that early encounter with Bernadette, I have spent many hours thinking about the connection between cousins and noses — between human social life and indigenous images of the body — a SANDRA BAMFORD 289 project that is ongoing and continues to motivate much of my research and writing on the Kamea.4 In what follows I explore why cousins (as opposed to parents) hold such a compelling place in Kamea thought and social life. This discussion will take us through several key metaphors of Kamea sociality and will force us to con— front, by way of contrast, many of the underlying assumptions which shape Euro—American notions of relatedness — particularly, the idea that kinship is grounded in a bond of shared bodily substance which unites two or more people in a physical relationship. \ On the face of it, this last Claim may seem unremarkable. It has, after all I been more than thirty years since Schneider (1968) first demonstrated that it «g. is only in certain culturally specific contexts that people tend to distinguish between ‘social’ and ‘biological’ kinship; such distinctions have little meaning for most non—Western people. Furthermore, recent years have witnessed an efflorescence of works which follow Schneider’s (1968; 1984) lead in chal— lenging the universality of a belief in physical reproduction as the primary 4» basis of human kinship bonds. Many of these newer works attempt to docu— ment the ‘processual’ nature of kinship by demonstrating that relatedness is a gradually acquired state which can be built over time and by non—sexual J meansjanet Carsten’s (1995; 1997) work with Malays in Southeast Asia is rep— resentative of this growing trend. In an article that deals with kin connections on the island of Langkawi, she writes: Here, I focus strictly on notions about substance and the way it is acquired through feeding. My intent is to show how bodily substance is not something with which Malays are simply born and remains forever unchanged, [but] to show how it gradually accrues and changes throughout life as persons participate in relationships (Carsten 1995: 225). Mary Weismantel (1995a) adopts a similar stance in her analysis of Zumbagua adoptions. More specifically, she states: The physical acts of intercourse, pregnancy, and birth can establish a strong bond between two adults and a child. But other adults, by taking a child into their family and nurtur- ing its physical needs through the same substances as those eaten by the rest of the social group can make that child a son or daughter who is physically as well as jurally their own (1995a: 695). Despite the seeming novelty of these formulations, they still rest on the underlying idea that kinship is grounded in the possession of shared bodily substance. In this article, I seek to challenge the grip that substance has on our imag— ining of relatedness. I pursue this theme by asking the following question: need kinship always be conceptualized as a material bond between people? Put somewhat differently: is there a way of thinking about consanguinity that does not ground it in bodily connectedness, or at the very least, are there “ ways of understanding consanguinity which see it as something other than a substance—based link between people?5 In what follows, I consider this question from the perspective of the Kamea, a highland people who occupy the rugged interior of Gulf Province, PNG. I show below that Kamea sociality is founded on a distinction between what 4, 29 290 SANDRA BAMFORD may be called ‘substantial’ and ‘insubstantial’ identities. Here, bodily substance is important when people conceptualize the origin and nature of same gen— Aeration relationships, but it is of relatively minor importance when they trace such relationships over time. It follows that birth and parentage take on radically new meanings when viewed through Kamea eyes. By exploring those meanings that enter into Kamea conceptions of relatedness, I explain why cousins are a marked category of kinsperson for the Kamea and I also show how social life may be lived in a world where the lineal transmission of substance is not a primary determinant of kin relationships. Ethnographic background For the purposes of this article, it will suffice to say that the Kamea number some fourteen thousand people. Linguistically and culturally, they belong to . the Angan ethnic group who are, perhaps, best known to anthropologists I through the ethnographic writings of Godelier (1982; 1986) and I-Ierdt (1981; 1987).6 Like most of their neighbours, the Kamea derive a living from a com— bination of shifting horticulture and the raising of pigs. Hunting and gather— ing contribute minimally to their diet, but figure centrally within the context of social and ritual prestations. Today, it strikes me as rather ironic that when I first went to work with the Kamea in the autumn of 1989, it was with the intention of studying the social and symbolic importance of bodily fluids. The Angan peoples have } gained a certain notoriety in the anthropological literature owing to their widespread practice of what has been called ‘institutionalized homosexuality’.7 For many Angan groups, maleness is seen to rest on the possession of semen, and this, it is believed, can only be acquired through extraneous means as a gift from older, initiated men. My own research in PNG was motivated by a desire to understand this system of substance exchange in greater detail: how 312 «m a 4Adid the flow of bodily substance articulate with the flow of other resources ‘10?) and, perhaps most importantly, how did women fit into this system? Since most of the information which was then available on Angan peoples dealt with groups who resided in the far north, I decided to concentrate my own efforts further south in the hope that my project might yield some interest— ing comparative material. I soon discovered that the Kamea did not practise ritual insemination and that, even outside the men’s cult, they attached rela— ~—\tively minor importance to the flow of bodily substance as a means through which categories of gender and kinship are defined. Indeed, what I learned was that for Kamea, the categories of social life eventuate as much from +>what it is that bodily substances fail to do as from that which they positively accomplish. Substantial and insubstantial identities 1. A Westerner approaching Kamea sociality for the first time is likely to be lulled into a false sense of familiarity fostered by the ease with which indige— nous formulations seem to translate into our own. Like many other Papua 3O 290 SANDRA BAMFORD may be called ‘substantial’ and ‘insubstantial’ identities. Here, bodily substance is important when people conceptualize the origin and nature of same gen— Aeration relationships, but it is of relatively minor importance when they trace such relationships over time. It follows that birth and parentage take on radically new meanings when viewed through Kamea eyes. By exploring those meanings that enter into Kamea conceptions of relatedness, I explain why cousins are a marked category of kinsperson for the Kamea and I also show how social life may be lived in a world where the lineal transmission of substance is not a primary determinant of kin relationships. Ethnographic background For the purposes of this article, it will suffice to say that the Kamea number some fourteen thousand people. Linguistically and culturally, they belong to the Angan ethnic group who are, perhaps, best known to anthropologists through the ethnographic writings of Godelier (1982; 1986) and Herdt (1981; 1987).6 Like most of their neighbours, the Kamea derive a living from a com— bination of shifting horticulture and the raising of pigs. Hunting and gather— ing contribute minimally to their diet, but figure centrally within the context of social and ritual prestations. Today, it strikes me as rather ironic that when I first went to work with the Kamea in the autumn of 1989, it was with the intention of studying the social and symbolic importance of bodily fluids. The Angan peoples have gained a certain notoriety in the anthropological literature owing to their widespread practice of what has been called ‘institutionalized homosexuality’.7 For many Angan groups, maleness is seen to rest on the possession of semen, and this, it is believed, can only be acquired through extraneous means as a gift from older, initiated men. My own research in PNG was motivated by a desire to understand this system of substance exchange in greater detail: how 31% Wet .; Adid the flow of bodily substance articulate with the flow of other resources fund and, perhaps most importantly, how did women fit into this system? Since most of the information which was then available on Angan peoples dealt with groups who resided in the far north, I decided to concentrate my own efforts further south in the hope that my project might yield some interest- ing comparative material. I soon discovered that the Kamea did not practise ritual insemination and that, even outside the men’s cult, they attached rela~ ~—>tively minor importance to the flow of bodily substance as a means through which categories of gender and kinship are defined. Indeed, what I learned was that for Kamea, the categories of social life eventuate as much from ~4>what it is that bodily substances fail to do as from that which they positively accomplish. Substantial and insubstantial identities A Westerner approaching Kamea sociality for the first time is likely to be lulled into a false sense of familiarity fostered by the ease with which indige— nous formulations seem to translate into our own. Like many other Papua SANDRA BAMFORD 291 New Guineans, the Kamea believe that several acts of sexual intercourse are needed to create a child. Through repeated acts of coitus, the reproductive fluids of a man (iya colea) are believed to mix with the reproductive fluids of his wife (panga rolea). As the fluids of the man and woman come to accumu— late as a pool within the woman’s womb, the contribution of the woman will gradually encircle that of the man.This outer female covering will eventually form the skin and surface blood vessels of the child while the father’s semen contributes to the making of bones and internal organs.Yet, while both parents contribute substance to the creation of a child, this is not seized upon as a salient feature of the parent—child relationship. Unlike most Euro—Americans, 4—,- Kamea make a marked distinction between what goes into the making of a person in a physical sense and what relates them as social beings. This difference between Western and Kamea formulations is revealed in the fact that although Kamea use the idea of ‘one—blood’ groupings to differenti— ate people in their social universe, this expression does not refer to physio— logical connectedness: instead, it speaks to the shared experience of having been nurtured within the same woman’s womb.The Kamea term, hinya avalea, <1. translates as ‘one—bloodedness’ and is used to refer to a sibling set. Other than using this term, there is no way for a speaker to refer to all of his or her siblings as a single, undifferentiated category. All other terms in the Kapau language use sex and age to differentiate between different kinds of siblings. In their reliance on blood as an idiom of relatedness, Kamea kinship config— urations seem at first glance to bear a striking resemblance to our own. Indeed, the entire notion of‘one—bloodedness’ appears to fit rather well with Euro— American ideas concerning the biogenetic basis of intergenerational relations. Yet, as I show below, first appearances can be misleading. Despite their use of substance as an idiom of relatedness, Kamea notions of kinship have little in common with Western understandings of the world. Any children whom a woman bears, regardless of who the father might be, are said by Kamea to be ‘one—blood’ with one another. The same, it should be pointed out, does not hold true ofa man. Should a man have more than one wife during the course of his life,8 any children that he fathers with these separate women will not be spoken of in terms of the ‘one—blood’ relationship. Only persons born of the same womb are hinya avaka. To be ‘one—blood’, then, is to have originated from the same maternal container. (See Figure 1.) This same notion of ‘one—blood’ groupings effectively separates, rather than connects, a woman and her offspring. I initially confused the notion of‘one— bloodedness’ with our own ideas concerning genealogical connections, as I assumed that the expression referred to the cultural fact that blood is the female contribution to conception. My Kamea informants, as it turned out, did not share my fascination with the field of biology. Neither a woman nor a man is considered to be ‘one—blood’ with their children: the term refers exclusively to having issued from the same prenatal receptacle? Thus one’s a mother, for instance, would be ‘one—blood’ with her own ‘true’ (rm) siblings, but not with any person in the ascending or descending generation. Women bestow upon their children a horizontal type of relatedness that is imagined in terms of ‘containment’ rather than as the lineal transmission of bodily substance. 3l 292 SANDRA BAMFORD ONE—BLOOD ONE-BLOOD ONE—BLOOD FIGURE l. The ‘one—blood’ relationship I have published elsewhere on the issue of how this imagery of ‘contain— ment’ comes to be played out within a diversity of contexts (Bamford 1998b; forthcoming a).The Kamea men’s cult, for example, is focused on the lengthy and arduous process of detaching a boy from the encompassing influence of his mother, a state that is understood to exist long after birth. Until a boy is initiated, he and his mother are seen to operate as a singular body. Indeed, so close is the connection between them that the eating habits of one are seen to directly affect the health and well—being of the other. In Kamea cultural logic, to be female is associated with the capacity to ‘contain.’ In the ‘one—blood’ idiom, then, we see the inkling of a substance—based model of relatedness, but we also see that it is oflimited use: it connects only persons within the same generation, while distinguishing them from both parents and any children they may bear. Substance, in short, is something ~-=-§which lacks the temporal dimension that makes reproduction coterminous with genealogical connectedness in the West. The Kamea do have a means of tracking social relationships through time, but this is not framed in terms of embodied connections. Instead, it eventuates from those ties that people form with the land. Land and the elicitation of intergenerational continuity Like many other Highland PN G people, the Kamea are patrilfmgl in the sense that a continuity with past generations is seen to reside in the male line and becomes the basis through which claims to property'are activated. Land, pater: nal names, and modes of ritual competence are all transmitted through men, typically from a father to his son.Yet it is important to note that gaining access «eryto land and other resources is not a derivative of patrifiliation — instead, it is constitutive of it. At Titamnga, the Kamea village where I conducted most of my fieldwork, land is inscribed with the identities of those who have worked it. Men and women move through a ‘mosaic of special places, each stamped by human m intention, value and memory’ (Buttimer 1976: 283; see also Kahn 1990; Maschio 1994; Rodman 1987). Throughout the region, all features of the landscape are named, from the smallest stream or limestone outcrop, to an old abandoned garden long overgrown with weeds.These sites are associated with the activities of specific individuals» and become ‘landmarks of experience’ 32 SANDRA BAMFORD 293 (Kahn 1990: 59) and the repository of social histories. As a boy is growing up, it is the responsibility of his father to walk him about the lands that he will eventually inherit, pointing out the boundaries of the allotment and the exact location of different resources. A boy will also be told who worked the land before him, where his ancestors gardened, placed their dead, and hunted for game in the bush. Knowledge of this history —— of one’s ties to place — is of critical impor— tance in establishing claims to ground.What is remembered through time are not genealogical connections, but rather the history of individual men and their relationships to the land. Of particular importance to the creation of intergenerational continuity for the Kamea are a special class of narratives known as tambuna storis (ancestor tales) which outline the comings and goings of particular men: where they travelled, who they married, and how the land was transformed through their work—related efforts. Conceptualized as a charter of actually occurring events, these tales are understood as an accurate rendition of local history. They typically begin with a named ancestor strik- ing out to investigate a previously unoccupied expanse of land.The tale goes on to describe the hero’s activities as a journey through space in which the protagonist travels from one place to the next, planting trees, clearing gardens, and engaging in other productive endeavours. Wherever he goes, he manages to leave a part of his identity behind by making the land more habitable for generations to come. mebuna storis are recounted in legal disputes — most frequently in those involving access to land. The Kamea say that men are expected to ‘follow in the footsteps of their fathers’: where their tambuna walked about, cleared a garden, and made a house is where they and their sons should do the same. Such a pattern of land—use results in a continuous line of cultivation stretch— ing from the distant past to the present. Some men — particularly older indi— viduals who are renowned for their wisdom — are especially knowledgeable about the ties that bind them to place. These individuals are capable of recit— ing complex histories of human environmental relations that extend back in time some ten to fifteen years, at which point they begin to blend with the mythical past. There are other men, however, who for one reason or another, may lack the detailed knowledge that is necessary to defend their claims from rivals who either know more or who can speak more convincingly on their own behalf (see Bamford 1997; 1998a). Those men who have spent time working for cash earnings on coastal plantations or at the gold fields in Wau find themselves at a marked disadvantage in such competitions. They return to the village with money in hand, but have little knowledge of the links that tie them to place. These former wage—labourers are in constant danger of losing rights to land in that they are unable to establish how it is that they fit within the humanized landscape. The final result is the figure of the ‘rubbish man’ (rabis man) — the distant matrilateral relative who moves from one place to the next, borrowing garden land and living off the charity of others. ' Yet knowledge alone is not enough to establish claims to land. An indi- vidual who fails to activate these claims through the investment of his own labour in the land is apt to break the continuous line of male enchainment. Not only will his own rights be called into question, but so too will the 33 (Th 294 SANDRA BAMFORD l subsequent claims of his sons. I encountered several individuals at Titamnga I who had been effectively disenfranchised from the system of land~ownership because either they or their fathers had failed to fix their identity in the land and thus to establish them as part of the socialized landscape. These indi— I viduals will cease to be remembered in tam/9mm storis inasmuch as these tales are a history of human interaction with the landscape. Effectively, they will cease to exist in intergenerational time. QWhat one sees in terms of land use is the ongoing creation of social rela— I tions. Using land and moving through space is not merely the performance ~¥>of sociality: it is also the means by which ties between men are elicited through time. While rights to use land typically devolve from a father to his I son, this pattern of transmission is neither necessary nor automatic.10 Lineal continuity is not equated with Western notions of descent — indeed, in many ways it makes more sense to speak of relations of ascent, in that intentional human effort is required to graft oneself to the male line. Kamea do not ‘hold’ I land but instead experience it as something which acquires a ‘hold’ over them, and in so doing, calls into being a sense of generational continuity (cf. . A. Strathern 1973; LiPuma 1988; Leach 2003). Gendered modes of relating From the foregoing, it is evident that Kamea men and women have different modes of relating that can be glossed in terms of a contrast between ‘lineal’ and ‘lateral’ sociality. It is the flow of land and other non~human resources through time that is diacritical of male relationships for the Kamea. Female sociality, by contrast, follows an entirely different track. Women are not connected to their offspring through intergenerational links: rather, the mother—child relationship is conceived in terms of an opposition between the ‘container’ and the ‘contained’. (See Figure 2.) i i Male sociality Female socialin (Intergenerational connections (Intragenerational relations ' defined through land) defined by containment) FIGURE 2. Male and female relational configurations. SANDRA BAMFORD 295 Defined as such, an interesting problem presents itself. Kamea social life is 4‘ based on two gendered modes of relating, but neither is capable of its own reproduction. Although lineal continuity is ‘productive’ in the sense that it possesses a temporal dimension, taken on its own it cannot recreate the conditions for its own existence. New persons are needed to form objectified relations with the land and these cannot be produced through the exclu~ sivity of same sex links. Relationships defined through women are subject to similar limitations. In the Kamea world mothers give birth to sets of rela— tionships — to ‘one-blood’ similitude — rather than to sons and daughters per 56. It will be remembered that the term him/a qua/ea is one of undetermined gender in the sense that it refers to all siblings as a single, undifferentiated category. Neither male nor female modes of relating are self~sufficient in terms of their regenerative capacity. As I demonstrate below, it is the cross—cousin A‘— relationship that puts these two modes of relating into a productive and repro~ ductive dialogue. This takes me first to a discussion of marriage. Affinity and the differentiation of blood In contrast to many other Papua New Guineans, Kamea tend to be highly articulate when it comes to specifying the appropriate category of spouse. Cross—cousins cannot marry, but the children of cross—cousins are expected to do so and in most cases constitute the actual choice of a marriage partner.11 This means that first—degree cousins occupy the space between two contain— ment cycles. Although not ‘one—blood’ themselves, the children of cousins will (=— marry and re—establish the conditions for lateral relatedness. Seen through time, there is a transformation of relationships such that parents produce siblings, who produce cousins, who produce spouses. The cycle, then, begins anew. (See Figure 3.) As I have described them so far, Kamea marriage practices have much in common with what is known about affinal relationships elsewhere in PNG. Yet what is unique about this system is that it is geared less towards the exchange of brothers and sisters by men and women than it is towards cre— 4 ating gender distinctions in the first place. Marriage and the accompanying system of matrilateral payments begin a process whereby male and female —- Parents (spouses) A = O Siblings O = = A Cousins : O 2 A T: \ l Parents (spouses) FIGURE 3. Relational transformations. 35 296 SANDRA BAMFORD brother and sister — are created against a backdrop of ‘one—blood’ simili— tude. To grasp this point, we need to examine how affinity unfolds through time. Today, as in the past, the parents of the bride and groom negotiate the vast majority of marriage alliances. Shortly after a girl’s birth ceremony takes place, the family of a prospective groom will approach her parents with the aim of arranging a match with their son. Since the Kamea exhibit a preference for second—degree cross—cousin marriage, it will be the children of ‘one—blood’ siblings who sit down to negotiate a union between their respective offspring. Today, bridewealth generally includes at least some items of Western manu— facture, including cloth, store—bought blankets, steel knives, tinned fish, and the like. In the past, it consisted almost entirely of garden produce and game, the latter being the most important constituent. If the parents of the girl are agree— able to the proposed match, the family of the groom will initiate a series of presentations on their sons behalf. A bag of sweet potatoes will arrive one day, a few weeks later some betel-nut, followed by a gift of game and perhaps a pouch of store—bought tobacco. These presentations will continue on an informal basis over the course of several years until eventually the boy will begin to assume the responsibility of making these payments on his own behalf. Items of bridewealth are presented to the mother of the girl, who will redistribute them as she sees fit. As one man explained: ‘I give these things because it was hard work to care for my wife. As she was growing up, she shit and pissed all over her mother. It is hard work for the mother to remove the child’s shit. That is Why we give these things.’ “‘T It is significant that the main element of bridewealth prestations is garden produce and game — that is, food items that have been produced on the pater~ nal land of the groom and his kinsmen. Having its origin in that source which comes to define male sociality for the Kamea, it is given by the groom and his family in order to detach a woman from the containing influence of her mother and the ungendered sameness of‘one—blood’ relationships. Yet bridewealth does more than ‘pay’ for a woman’s fertility — it is seen ‘x‘to create that capacity in the first place. The Kamea say that girls mature more quickly than boys because they are anxious to find a husband and bear children of their own. ‘Women think only of men and of getting married’, I was told; ‘this is what makes them grow quickly’. The food that a woman’s family has been receiving over the years as bridewealth is seen to hasten the maturation process. The idea seems to be that, having enjoyed a particularly plentiful diet, the growth rate of girls comes to outpace that of boys.12 The end result of this process is the onset of menarche, a condition that is seen by men and women alike as being necessary for the achievement of pregnancy. Kamea understandings of childlessness play off of this association between H bridewealth and fertility. The men and women of Titamnga contend that it is impossible for a single woman to become pregnant. An unmarried woman can engage in repeated acts of sexual intercourse, but unless bridewealth has been paid in her name, she will never conceive a child. Similarly, barrenness on the part of a married woman is often attributed to the working of a type 36 SANDRA BAMFORD 297 of sorcery (pa’a) by the bride’s kinsmen over their discontent at having received what they perceive as inadequate brideprice.Women who fail to con— ceive a child are often referred to as olea — the term for ‘man’ indicating their markedly anomalous place in a world where ‘femaleness’ is defined by the capacity to ‘contain’. From this perspective, a husband and his kin effectively 4-— bring about the possibility of the woman’s conceiving. By acting as appro— priate affines vis-tl-vis the parents of the wife, they constitute her capacity to - act as a ‘container’ and, in so doing, engender her identity as a reproductively mature female. We are now in a position to understand what initially struck me as a pecu— liarity of Kamea kin relations: that sister exchange, although occasionally prac- tised, does not negate the need to make matrilateral payments.” The Kamea contend that simply exchanging one’s own sister for the sister of another man does not cancel out the need to pay bridewealth. Each side to the transac— ' tion is still expected to make matrilateral payments, even if the items chang- ing hands are simply identical qualities and quantities of the same food items. In the words of one man: ‘If my wife's brother married one of my sisters, we would still need to give things to my wife‘s family. My brother—in—law’s side must also give things for my sister. When I saw these things, I would say: “He gave these things for my sister.”When his sister came to live with me, we would still give things to my wife‘s mother.’ To exchange sisters is to exchange androgynous beings: persons who are the ‘one-blood’ product of a previous act of procreation, but who have no ca- pacity to move within the world as reproductively competent agents.Through the payment of bridewealth, the sexual differentiation upon which procreation is based is brought into being. Yet bridewealth is only the beginning. After the girl matures and the marriage has been consummated, her family eagerly awaits the birth of a child. When this takes place, the payments that the groom’s side has been making on behalf of the wife become instead payments to ensure the good health of the child (imia mapa 1' ma watt). Bridewealth and childgrowth payments merge as part of an endless stream of obligations to maternal kin. These payments/\w help to sustain the difference between male and female which that brideprice helped to create. Marilyn Strathern (1987) has noted a similar point with regard to the Wiru: ‘Making male parenthood different from female parent— hood resembles the task of keeping separate the terms of a metaphor Without [ongoing] differentiation, there is context collapse and one simply becomes the other’ (1987: 290, citing Wagner 1977). For those with whom I discussed the issue, what is threatened by such neglect is the procreative issue: the child him— or herself. Although the people with whom I spoke held markedly different opinions as to its underlying cause, there is general agree— ment that a child whose father fails to make regular payments to maternal ~— kin on his or her behalf‘won’t come up properly’. Such a child will remain stunted, ‘all skin and bones’. In extreme cases, the child will die. Not making childgrowth payments is the same as not diflerentiating male and female repro— ductive contributions — what was accomplished at conception begins to undo, and the health of the child is at stake. Further reproduction is thwarted, either 298 SANDRA BAMFORD through death or by the fact that they are destined to remain small and stunted. -——'\ For the Kamea, then, siblings constitute a unit that becomes differentiated through their affinal relations. Giving bridewealth to a woman’s kin transforms her by gradually giving rise to a female state.H This act of differentiation con— tinues until there is a complete metamorphosis — the woman is pregnant with a child herself Strathern 1987). She has moved from the ungendered state of being ‘contained’ -— a state summed up through the metaphor of ‘one— bloodedness’ — to being able to act as a ‘container’ in her own right. Just as boys ‘follow their fathers’ in terms of the relationships that they form with the land, Kamea girls follow their mothers in their ‘containing’ capacity. Yet this identification of a child with the same—sex parent speaks to more than the calling into being of reproductive potential: it also alludes to the way in which offspring relate to same—sex parents and their relatives. Kamea, like many other people the world over, move in a world of multiply constituted kin connections. Individuals can typically trace not one but several possible links to most other persons in the community.A second~degree cross— cousin on the father’s side may also be related to ego as a mother’s brother. “\‘i In such cases, a decision has to be made regarding which of these two pos— sible connections to emphasize. Kamea claim that maternal kin would be angry if all children in a given sibling set used the father as a point of refer— ence in sorting out ambiguous cases. The perceived difficulty is solved by “*having girls — particularly as they get older - rely on their mother as the determining link. As one youth explained: ‘Girls belong to their mother’s line, boys to their father’s.’ A Kamea individuals world involves a process of development which engenders an eventual split into two separate lines, with girls coming to be identified with their mothers, and boys with their fathers. It is important to note, however, that the association between a mother and daughter goes back no further than one generation and does not form the basis of long—standing temporal connections. A daughter may follow her mother in classifying kin, but that mother will follow her own mother, who follows her own, and so on. There is no sense in which female sociality is transmitted through time in such a way as to make time evident as a lineal flow across the generations. Instead, for women, time consists ofa series of substitutions. In this way, female sociality differs from male forms of relatedness. Men draw upon land and non— human resources to invest their sociality in an externalized world. This gives- male relatedness a temporal dimension that women’s relationships lack. Female sociality is confined to a single generation, both in terms of the lateral rela- tionships it creates — that is, ‘one—blood’ bonds — and in the nature of those ties which bind a mother to her daughter. Cycles of transformation I have argued above that Kamea marriage relationships are focused as much on the creation of gender as they are on inaugurating a procreative bond. Cousins are central to this process of differentiation. By giving and receiving matrilateral payments on their son and daughter’s behalf, cousins begin a 38 SANDRA BAMFORD 299 process whereby siblings — beings of undetermined gender — come to be defined as male and female agents.Yet cousins do more than elicit gendered states, they also engender different modes of relating.As Yanagisako and Collier <~ (1987) have argued, gender and kinship are not separate analytical domains, but mutually constitutive components ofa social whole. Through their ‘work’ in creating difference from a prior state of unity, cousins also assign different meanings to the husband—wife and brother—sister relationship, despite what the Kamea see as being their underlying similarity. I first became aware of the perceived equivalence between these two types of relationship approximately a year after taking up residence at Titamnga. One afternoon, I was returning to the village after having spent several plea— surable hours in the company of Iyeni — one of the oldest of the people with whom I worked and a well—renowned expert on Kamea sacred lore. As I walked along the footpath that connects the two villages, I expressed to Waka, my travelling companion, my sense of frustration at not having fully mastered the Kapau language. It had seemed to me that at one moment Iyeni was saying that the Sun and the Moon — two important figures in Kamea mythology — were related as husband and wife and the next that they were related as brother and sister. Waka stopped in his tracks and beamed at me, explaining that that was, in fact, what Iyeni had said.When I asked for clarification,Waka responded by saying that the Sun and the Moon were both -— they were husband and wife and brother and sister at the same time (Godelier 1986; Levi—Strauss 1976). The implicit sameness that underlies siblingship and affinity in myth has terminological correlates in the lives of actual people. As I struggled to make sense of what Iyeni and Waka had told me, I began to pay closer atten— tion to the ways in which husbands and wives addressed one another. Although a husband may refer to his wife as nlea apa/ea (‘my woman’) and a woman to her husband as nka olea (‘my man’), an equally common practice is for spouses to refer to one another by sibling terms.Thus, a wife might call her husband nlea data (‘my brother’) and a husband might address his wife as filed nabi (‘my sister’). This same practice applies to third-party interactions. Thus, upon meeting a married couple in their garden, a man may greet them with: ‘Afternoon, brother and sister.’ As Oates and Oates note of the Kapau language more generally: ‘When speaking of one’s own or one’s hearers’ rela- tionship, no distinction is made between the spouse and sibling relationship’ (1968: 169). The substitutability of sibling and spousal terms highlights the contrived nature of sociality for the Kamea. Neither kinship nor gender are essential— ized identities ~ they must be evoked on an ongoing basis through conscious human effort (cf. Wagner 1975; 1977). Siblingship and affinity are identical relationships in this world, differentiated only by their polarized gender attrib— utes. Cousins are significant because they create those distinctions upon which Kamea social life dependsjust as male and female pass through differentiated and undifferentiated states (see also Bamford 1997; 1998b; forthcoming a), so too do siblingship and affinity contain, at least implicitly, the possibility of merging as undifferentiated relationships. Cousins act as the pivot between these two sets of distinctions and keep certain types of people and relation— ships separate until they can be brought together productively again.15 39 / ~V 300 SANDRA BAMFORD It is by virtue of their place as a nexus of transformation in Kamea social and cultural processes that the relationship between cousins is particularly compelling. It is fitting that the relationship, itself, embodies the seemingly contradictory states of intimacy and avoidance. Cousins are the only category of kin who are spoken of with reference to the human body. After I became aware of the association between cousins and ‘noses’, I began to ask whether any other type of person was similarly embodied. Were fathers like ‘eyes’ or uncles like ‘teeth’? This suggestion met with much good—natured bemusement on the part of the individuals whom I consulted, but did little more than confirm the idea that people from Europe and North America hold rather strange ideas. Only cousins are metaphorically likened to a specific body part. This association seems to imply that the identification between cousins is so close that they are, in some sense, extensions of the self. This intimacy carries with it important behavioural consequences. Kamea claim that cousins are expected to support one another at all costs. Indeed, when pressed, they will claim that one should come to the aid ofa cousin over and above one’s father should a dispute break out between these two individuals. The bond is one of protectiveness and loyalty. I have argued that the relationship between cousins is intense — so close, in fact, that they are referred to in bodily terms.Yet, if cousins are seen at one level to be extensions of the self, at the same time the relationship between them is hedged with a dizzying array of taboos and avoidances. Unlike any other category of kin, the interactions between cousins are subject to numer— ous interdictions. One should avoid stepping over the legs of one’s cousins or walking behind them when they are seated on the ground. Similarly, one must avoid uttering the proper name ofa cousin out loud, referring to them instead by euphemisms or through the categories set out in the kinship terminology (for instance, ndawo for a male cross-cousin and nawi for a female one). Failure to adhere to these restrictions will cause the children of one’s cross—cousin not to develop properly, as this excerpt from my field notes illustrates. Sandra: If your cousin was sitting down, could you step over them? Waka: No. They are my cousin. I must excuse myself first. It would not be good for me to step over them. IfI stepped over my female cousin and she had a baby, she would not give birth to a nice fat child. She would carry a bun Hating (that is, a child with no meat on its bones).As for my female cousin herself, she would be unable to produce breast milk. Sandra: Could you step over a male cousin? Waka: No.The same thing would happen.When he and his wife had children, they would be bun Hating. The children would remain small and stunted and fail to grow. Although cross—cousins are closely identified in Kamea thought, these restric- tions ensure that a degree of separateness between them is maintained. Cousins both unite and divide at the same time — an appropriate analogue to the role that they play in the kinship system. Conclusions It has been over thirty years since David Schneider (1968; 1984) challenged established anthropological orthodoxies with his heretical assertion that 40 I I I Ii'nill SANDRA BAMFORD 301 kinship as we knew it did not exist.What had long served as a pre—eminent 4% focus of ethnographic inquiry was little more than a reflection of Euro— American cultural assumptions taken abroad. By highlighting those meanings that entered into American classifications of kin, Schneider ‘denaturalized’ (Yanagisako & Collier 1987) kinship and revealed its inherently symbolic character. That kinship occupied a privileged place in most accounts of non—Western peoples revealed more about the internal workings of our own cultural logic than it did about the societies that anthropologists purported to i be studying. Central to Schneider’s critical assessment of existing kinship theory was his insistence that anthropologists should no longer assume that all people will necessarily regard sexual reproduction as the basis of human sociality. In Euro—American formulations, consanguinity has to do with the reproductioné- of human beings and reproduction is, in turn, understood to be a sexual and biological process. In the folk wisdom of the West, sexual reproduction creates physiological links between human beings and these are understood to have important attributes apart from any meanings that people might attach to them (Schneider 1984: 188). Schneider challenged the universality of theseezrn.‘ assumptions. He asked us to take kinship as an ‘empirical question’ —— as a hypothesis to be tested - rather than to assume from the outset that it has universal cross-cultural significance (Schneider 1984: 200). In the wake of his work, anthropologists could no longer take the ‘facts of life’ for granted, a finding that similarly called into question the invariable nature of the genealogical grid. The past decade has witnessed the emergence of a ‘new’ theoretical model ‘4"? that attempts to take Schneider’s insights to heart. The currently dominant paradigm (Carsten 1995; 1997; 2001;Weismantel 1995a; 1995b) strives to move beyond understanding relatedness in terms of a distinction between ‘social’ versus ‘biological’ relationships. In this model, ‘physical’ ties are not given at birth — instead, they are produced through time as a consequence of eating, Th? (: PITT-d hut; living, and consuming together. Proponents of this model give much atten- tion to optative and adoptive relations, highlighting how commensality and coresidence can combine to engender consubstantial relations (cf.Viveiros de Castro forthcoming). This paradigm thus emphasizes the various means by which corporeal relations can be created between persons after birth. While these newer studies have helped to challenge the association between parentage and physiological reproduction, they continu‘evto take asaxiomatic the idea that cross—generational relations necessarily entail an embodied and substance—based link between parents and children. Implicit in this approach 1 is the idea that Western notions of hereditary substance can have only one urn.“ antithesis, viz. substance acquired not at birth, but processually over time and as a consequence of intentional human effortWhat also remains unchallenged in this model is the view that the parent~child tie serves as the generative nexus of social life and that procreative kinship has to do with the produc- — tion of individual bodies rather than sets of relations.16 Within this context, the Kamea represent a particularly compelling case for analysis. They provide us with a glimpse into a world in which the parent- child ties is not conceived in genealogical terms. Although the men and women ofTitamnga are highly articulate when it comes to expressing their views on what goes into the making of a baby, conception is not used as a I . 302 SANDRA BAMFORD means of tracking social relationships through time.While both a mother and a father are understood to contribute bodily substance to the making of a child, this is seen to be a rather unremarkable (and certainly an unremarked upon) feature of the ensuing relationship. My own efforts to ground mother- . hood and fatherhood in some kind of substance-based link met with every— thing from amusement to total indifference and incomprehension. Physiology, even as it is indigenously understood, is of little use in grasping the dynam— ics of the Kamea social world. In order to understand What connects and dis— I “\connects people in this world, it is necessary to move from a substantive to a relational point of view. 7 I have described Kamea social life in terms ofa contrast between male and ! female relational configurations. Men and women each engender their own modes of relating that can be glossed in terms of a contrast between lineal and lateral modes of relating. Relationships defined through women are of a I short temporal duration (one—generation only) and receive their most potent expression in the horizontal ties of‘one—blood’ siblings. Kamea men, by con— trast, are implicated in the definition of relationships through time. A boy creates his own place in the nexus of remembered social relationships by virtue I of the ties that he forms with the land and a variety of non—human resources. Men have nothing to do with the definition of horizontal relations which are based on women and their capacity to contain. Kamea women, for their part, - while providing the foundation upon which lateral relationships are based, will 7 never serve as points of attachment in tambuna storis. It is the intersection of these two distinct relational forms (rather than a procreative bond as it is I understood by Euro—Americans) that gives Kamea social life its forward—going momentum. Significantly, neither male nor female relational modes are conceptualized ’in terms of the transmission of substance and neither is seen to result in an - embodied connection between parents and offspring. As I have shown, this carries with it a number of important implications in terms of how persons, bodies and time are perceived. The generation of social life does not unfold I along a unidirectional time line; this is the kind of temporality that under— pins most Western notions of relatedness, but it is not a feature of Kamea gen- erational ideas.What is central to Kamea notions of generation is a View of - social life as a continual oscillation between states of unity and disjuncture. Cousins are central to this process of differentiation. By initiating affinal rela- tionships between their children, they begin a process through which gen— dered forms are created, and productive cross—sex relations differentiated from I unproductive ones. What the Kamea have to tell us about human social life is of no minor importance. Over the last few years, the study of kinship has taken on a new I urgency which has been driven in part by changing definitions of the family - in Europe and North America. With the growth of new reproductive tech— nologies and the rise of gay and lesbian studies, people in many Western or — Euro—American social settings are being called upon with ever-increasing fre— I quency to rethink their ideas about what is innate and given with respect to human relatedness. In a world where embryos can be ‘put on ice’ and the dead can be forced to procreate, the Kamea furnish us with a new perspec— tive within which to reflect upon what is essential about persons, reproduc— SANDRA BAMFORD 303 tion, and cross—generational relationships. They provide us with a glimpse into a world in which kinship is not understood to entail an embodied connection — either created intentionally (as the newer processual model holds) or given at birth (as traditional studies of kinship would have it). More specifically, they allow us to see that significant social ties may not only be based on the flow of bodily substance, but can also eventuate from the space where the flow of bodily substance stops. NOTES I thank joel Robbins, Susan McKinnon, Roy Wagner, Frederick Damon, Margo Smith, Norman Buchignani, Doreen Indra, and Hilary Rodriques for their thoughts and insights on an earlier draft of this article. I would also like to express my gratitude for the helpful com— ments that I received from two anonymousz/ll readers.Any errors of interpretation of course remain my own. Limited portions of the material presented here appeared in a previous (1998) article entitled ‘Humanized landscaped, embodied Worlds: land and the construction ofinte1= generational continuity among the Kamea of Papua New Guinea’, Social Analysis 42: 3, 28—54. Funding for this research was made possible by generous grants from the Social Sciences and Research Council of Canada and the Wenner—Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. 1The most obvious issues entailed are these: does the right to reproduce — or not to reproduce — survive death? Can genetic resources be inherited in the way that other forms of property can be? If parents cannot force their living children to give them grandchildren, is it ethical and appropriate for them to acquire such rights after death? See Andrews (1999a; 19991)) for a more detailed account of these and other ethical dilemmas. 2 Such requests are made not only by the parents of the deceased, but also by siblings, spouses, and girlfriends. 3This point has been discussed at length by Marilyn Strathern (see, for example, M. Strathern [1988; 1992a; 1992b; 1995; 1997]). 4See Bamford (1997; 1998a; 1998b; forthcoming a; forthcoming b). 5The theme of substance is taken up by Carsten in a recent paper (2001), where she dis— cusses in detail the many different kinds of meaning that may be attached to the concept.Yet, What still remains unquestioned is the idea that substance is necessary to a connection of consanguinity. 6Other recent ethnographic studies ofAngan people include Bonnemere (1993; 1996; 2001), Lemonnier (1991), and Mimica (1981; 1988; 1991). See also Blackwood (1939a; 1939b; 1940; 1950; 1978), Fischer (1968), Simpson (1953). and Sinclair (1961; 1966). 7The term ‘institutionalized homosexuality’ was originally coined by Herdt (1981; 1982; 1984; 1987), and I use it with some hesitation. Where the exchange of semen takes place between older and younger men during initiation, the practice is consistently conceptualized as a procreative act rather than a sexual one. I use the term for convenience only. 8This is a fairly common occurrence, given that polygyny is frequent. 9Kaniea are not alone in sharing a View that parents do not share an embodied connection to their offspring. In The gender of the ggct, Marilyn Strathern (1988) argues that Trobriand women are not connected to their children by means ofa bond of substance (1988: 231—40). She also points out in a more recent publication that among the Etoro of PNG, generations are not perceived in continuous terms, a View which is directly at odds with one of the fun— damental tenets of genealogical thinking. 10See Bamford (1998a) for an extended case study of one particular individual who lost access to land, together with acknowledged social ties to other members of the community. HDuring my thirty—one months at Titamnga, virtually all of the marriages that took place in the village were in keeping with the aforementioned pattern. Of the older existing marriages, I recorded only two cases in which the spouse did not belong to the appropriate category, and in both instances, the persons involved in the match were quick to point out that they had married atypically. IQSignificantly, many of the food items that are presented to the parents of the girl as bridewealth are taboo to young boys while they are growing up (see Bamford [1997; 1998b] ...
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This note was uploaded on 04/21/2008 for the course GANTH 195 taught by Professor Dr.choby during the Spring '08 term at James Madison University.

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Bamford - CONCEIVING RELATEDNESS NON—SUBSTANTIAL...

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