Sambia sexual culture: essays from the field. (Social Anthropology)

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Author: Paul Sillitoe
Date: Mar. 2002
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Document Type: Book review
Length: 798 words

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HERDT, GILBERT. Sambia sexual culture: essays from the field. Xii, 327 pp., tables, illus., bibliogr. London, Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press, 1999

This collection of essays continues Gilbert Herdt's studies of sexuality in Papua New Guinea, published in several widely read volumes, which started twenty years ago with Guardians of the flutes: idioms of masculinity. The focus is again on the Sambia (a pseudonym), an Anga-speaking people of the southern mid-montane region of Papua New Guinea, although the book includes some comparative discussion of sexual issues, largely elsewhere in Melanesia. 'Few cultures have received as much attention in the study of erotic desire, sexuality, and gender as the Sambia of Papua New Guinea', the cover blurb observes (presumably taking it as understood that s/he excepts contemporary Western culture, knee-deep in such literature). This book covers much of the same ethnographic ground as previously on procreation, growth, homosexuality, strength, and so on.

One reason Herdt revisits this ethnography is to revise his earlier Freudian-informed psychoanalytic interpretations of Sambia sexual behaviour, subsequent experiences working among Chicago's lesbians and homosexuals convincing him that the imposition of such ideas derived from Western neuroses is distorting and inappropriate. Many of us should support such frank...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A84193096