Ways of Baloma: Rethinking Magic and Kinship from the Trobriands by Mark S. Mosko

Event details

Launch

Date & time

Wednesday 28 February 2018
5.00pm–6.00pm

Venue

Hedley Bull Atrium

Speaker

Professor Margaret Jolly

Contacts

Kirsten Farrell

Additional links

All are welcome to the launch of Professor Mark S. Mosko's latest book.

Bronislaw Malinowski’s path-breaking research in the Trobriand Islands shaped much of modern anthropology’s disciplinary paradigm. Yet many conundrums remain. For example, Malinowski asserted that baloma spirits of the dead were responsible for procreation but had limited influence on their living descendants in magic and other matters, claims largely unchallenged by subsequent field investigators, until now.

Based on extended fieldwork at Omarakana village—home of the Tabalu “Paramount Chief”—Mark S. Mosko argues instead that these and virtually all contexts of indigenous sociality are conceived as sacrificial reciprocities between the mirror worlds that baloma and humans inhabit.

Informed by a synthesis of Strathern’s model of “dividual personhood” and Lévy-Bruhl’s theory of “participation,” Mosko upends a century of discussion and debate extending from Malinowski to anthropology’s other leading thinkers. His account of the intimate interdependencies of humans and spirits in the cosmic generation and coordination of “life” (momova) and “death” (kaliga) strikes at the nexus of anthropology’s received wisdom, and Ways of Baloma will inevitably lead practitioners and students to reflect anew on the discipline’s multifold theories of personhood, ritual agency, and sociality.

“…an ethnography which has implications far beyond anthropology”

–Sarah Franklin, Cambridge University

“Welcome to the 21st century, Bronislaw Malinowski”

–Roy Wagner, University of Virginia

“…a provocative and controversial intervention into contemporary debates on the nature of Melanesian personhood, and the neglected relation between magic and kinship”

–Chris Gregory, ANU

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