Made in Niugini

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Made in Niugini: Technology in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea by Paul Sillitoe

Vol. 2 of the RAI Book Series.

This impressive and inspiring volume has as its modest origins the documentation of a contemporary collecting project for the British Museum. Informed by curators’ critiques of uneven collections accompanied by highly variable information, Sillitoe set out with the ambition of recording the totality of the material culture of the Wola of the southern highlands of Papua New Guinea, at a time when the study of artefacts was neglected in university anthropology departments. His achievements, presented in this second edition of Made in Nuigini with a new contextualizing preface and foreword, brought a new standard of ethnography to the incipient revival of material culture studies, and opened up the importance of close attention to technology and material assemblages for anthropology. The ‘economy’ fundamentally concerns the material aspects of life, and as Sillitoe makes clear, Wola attitudes and behaviour in this regard are radically different to those of the West, with emphasis on ‘maker users’ and egalitarian access to resources going hand in hand with their stateless and libertarian principles.

What a stunning and rewarding book! Te Rangi Hiroa, C.S. Ford, Darryl Forde, Clark Wissler and Edward Gifford – to mention a few of my earlier friends and teachers – would all have enjoyed this work immensely.
Harold C. Conklin

Not many anthropologists could have brought to fruition a work like this. Its singleness of purpose offers what amounts to a unique perspective on Papua New Guinea Highland life& It will be a work of reference for Melanesianists. But social anthropologists in general should take note. The relentlessness of Sillitoe’s investigation has its own effect. It throws up quite unexpected detail: the chert knappers’ care that people will not cut their feet on fragments, the different times it takes men to tease their hair into wigs, why barbed arrows are feared … the number of skirts a woman needs to feel adequately attired … [A] magnificent epic to human endeavour. Regardless of whether they hold collections from Melanesia, this should be in the library of every ethnographic museum: and regardless of whether they think they are interested in material culture, this should be available to every anthropology department.
Marilyn Strathern, Man

Made in Niugini is an extraordinarily ambitious and finely executed account, encyclopaedic in scope and design, and expertly illustrated.
Thomas G. Harding, American Anthropologist

Foreword; Preface to the second edition; List of maps; List of figures; List of tables; List of plates; Preface; Chapter 1 – Artifacts and people; Chapter 2 – Environment and resources; Chapter 3 – Tools; Chapter 4 – Weapons; Chapter 5 – Consumption utensils; Chapter 6 – Apparel; Chapter 7 – Finery and self-destruction; Chapter 8 – Musical instruments; Chapter 9 – Art and facts pertaining to Wola artifacts; Appendix I – Technical glossary; Appendix II – Property survey questionnaire; References; Index

Paul Sillitoe FBA is Professor of Anthropology at Durham University

Hardback, ISBN 978-1-907774-89-8, £120.00 (GBP), $180.00 (USD)

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