Body, self, and society : the view from Fiji by Anne E. Becker

By Anne E. Becker

Anne E. Becker examines the cultural context of the embodied self via her ethnography of physically aesthetics, meals trade, care, and social relationships in Fiji. She contrasts the cultivation of the body/self in Fijian and American society, arguing that the incentive of usa citizens to paintings on their our bodies' shapes as a private pastime is authorized via their concept that the self is individuated and self sustaining. however, simply because Fijians challenge themselves with the cultivation of social relationships principally expressed via nurturing and foodstuff alternate, there's a vested curiosity in cultivating others' our bodies instead of one's own.

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L 5 The pivotal existential quest of the Fijian is to engage with others via multiple established channels of serving, caring, and material exchange. Cultivation of the self is ideally achieved through the cultivation of social relationships. The intensive investment in community projects is exemplified in the narrative related to me by Liku, a young, married woman from a chiefly family. 17 She described her reaction: I really smiled at that [their invitation to open the holi]; I said "Hai! What made them think of me?

30 Social intimacy is also approximated, though in a rather stereotyped way, through joking discourse (viwaletaki) , which is ubiquitous in social relations and invoked with particular frequency in tavale and tauvu relationships. Fijian humor centers on allusions loaded with doubleentendre that confuse the mataqwali's cavu (roughly translatable as totem) with the personal genitals of its members. On occasion one is also subject to good-natured teasing based on social deviance, such as a propensity to drink too much yaqona or to be effeminate if male.

In sum, marriage, like the sharing of food, is meant to enlarge the social universe by greasing the channels of exchange or engaging others in reciprocal exchange relationships. Although some current interracial hostility exists between ethnic Fijians and Fiji Indians, Fijian protocol organized around receiving and entertaining vulagi suggests a traditional predilection to engage and incorporate those from outside the immediate social sphere. Claude LeviStrauss argues that outsiders are treated as valuable assets in cases in which "the foreigner enjoys the prestige of exoticism and, by his presence, embodies the opportunity of widening social ties" (Levi-Strauss 1985: 7).

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