By Joel Robbins
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Additional resources for Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society (Ethnographic Studies in Subjectivity, 4)
I mention these issues at the outset, though, lest readers imagine, as people these days sometimes do, that the small size and remote location of communities such as Urapmin somehow iconically renders the study of their cultures and histories of necessity a narrow undertaking and one that is off the beaten track of contemporary anthropological concern. 6 Introduction on cultural change I take culture to be a set of values and categories (or “symbols” or “representations”) and the relations between values and values, categories and categories, and values and categories.
The Hawaiian abrogation of taboo was not simply a matter of a change in their understandings of taboo or of any other single category. Instead, it was the outcome of changes in the relations that linked the categories “men,” “women,” “chiefs,” and “commoners” to one another. These cascading changes were brought about by the way Hawaiians employed all of these categories, along with that of taboo, in relating to Cook and his crew. In such cases people manage, as they also do when they use an old category to encompass a new element, to reproduce some aspects of their traditional culture.
That was the year that a Christian revival began to sweep through many of the groups in their region. Though the revival had its most proximate origin in 1 2 Introduction movements then ﬂourishing in the Solomon Islands, it brought with it a recognizably Western form of Christianity focused on the revivalist and charismatic themes of the need for a conviction of human sinfulness to accompany conversion, the role of the Holy Spirit in helping converts to address their sinful nature, and the potential imminence of the Second Coming.