Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Barkcloths demonstrate women’s importance

07.07.2005


Dutch researcher Anna-Karina Hermkens has produced a description and analysis of the dynamics of gender and identity in the culture of the Maisin, an indigenous group from Papua New Guinea. She made this analysis by following the production and use of an object made by the women, painted barkcloth.


Maisin women and men perform their dances to mark a church festival. The dances and body decorations express not only religious identity, but also gender, clan and tribal identity.


Maisin women painting barkcloths. The red paint is applied warm and used to be associated with blood and taboo for men and children. Nowadays the painting of the barkcloths is no longer surrounded by taboos and has become a social occasion.



In her thesis Anna-Karina Hermkens provides insights into the life and culture of the Maisin from a previously undescribed female perspective. This reveals the importance of women and female objects in ceremonial exchange systems, which within traditional anthropology are always associated with and studied from a male perspective. However women and their goods were found to play a crucial role in both formal and informal exchanges.

The production and use of barkcloths was found to be related to ideas about gender and sexuality. The commercialisation of these cloths also has consequences for local relationships between men and women and for the position of women in general.


Maisin is a language group of about 3000 speakers, of which some 2000 live along the coast of Collingwood Bay in Papua New Guinea. The 36 clans live over 10 villages and mostly make their living from fishing and horticulture. Intensive and extensive exchange networks exist between the clans and also with neighbouring groups. The ceremonial and economic exchange of barkcloths plays a major role in this.

Barkcloths

The cloths, which are made from the bark of paper mulberry trees and have black patterns filled in with red, are intertwined with the past present and future of the Maisin. They are the most important medium for the Maisin to make themselves seen and heard, and to obtain money for schooling, medicines, clothes and other ’essential’ goods.

Hermkens carried out 12 months of anthropological fieldwork under the Maisin in 2001-2002. Before and after this fieldwork period the anthropologist carried out extensive research at museums in the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Australia and Papua New Guinea. By cataloguing and studying archives and museum collections related to the Maisin of Collingwood Bay, she gained a better understanding of the traditions associated with and changes in barkcloths. This also enabled her to place the present production and consumption of barkcloths in an historical colonial and postcolonial context.

Anna-Karina Hermkens’ research was funded by NWO.

Dr Anna-Karina Hermkens | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.maw.ru.nl

More articles from Social Sciences:

nachricht Sibling differences: Later-borns choose less prestigious programs at university
14.11.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für demografische Forschung

nachricht Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ
09.11.2017 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

12.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Multi-year submarine-canyon study challenges textbook theories about turbidity currents

12.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

12.12.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>