Barkcloths demonstrate womens importance
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.
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!
The most recent press releases about innovation >>>
Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...