Placing Paamese: locating concerns with place, gender and movement in Vanuatu

Craig Lind

This is a study of coming to know what it is to be Paamese. The work seeks to present an anthropological understanding of ontological concerns that constitute a Paamese perception of subjectivities. The author, Craig Lind, takes his lead from Paamese perceptions that the internal capacities of subjects or “things” (e.g. persons, villages, islands, and movement itself) are revealed through relations with others. This correlates with anthropology’s methodology of testing its analytical strategies through the ethnographic practices of others in order to reach more accurate representations. Paamese, as is common elsewhere in Vanuatu and Melanesia, have an extremely fluid attitude towards sociality and easily accommodate urban dwelling without leaving Paama behind. Lind suggests that a nuanced multi-positioned approach in which several aspects of Paamese sociality are considered from a point of limitation employed by Paamese to focus an event, such as a marriage exchange, will present a better understanding of how these subjectivities, that is Paamese people and Paama Island, adhere such that they do not part company wherever they go. Paamese suggest that each event should be considered as if following a single branch in the canopy of a tree – a scalable perception that offers the promise that a multi-faceted approach will reveal a replicable form. Lind takes this approach to specificity seriously and employ a looping aesthetic, measi, adapted from Paamese sand-drawing in order to consider the shifting concerns expressed by Paamese perceptions of out (place), āmal (agnatic clans), sise (road), vatte (origin), ara (blood) and asi (bone). Lind suggests that these, parts, can be considered together as a holography for how to come to know what it is to be Paamese.

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Research Type(s)
Thesis – Unpublished work
Submitted by Phoebe Nadenbousch
March 27, 2023
Published in
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