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 Amazingly flexible: Learning to read in your thirties profoundly transforms the brain
26.05.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Kognitions- und Neurowissenschaften

nachricht Fixating on faces
26.01.2017 | California Institute of Technology

All articles from Social Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Touch Displays WAY-AX and WAY-DX by WayCon

27.06.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Drones that drive

27.06.2017 | Information Technology

Ultra-compact phase modulators based on graphene plasmons

27.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>