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TitleEthnographies of Moral Reasoning: Living Paradoxes of a Global Age
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size1.4 MB
Total Pages217
Table of Contents
                            Contents
Acknowledgments
Notes on Contributors
Part 1 An Introduction to the Ethnography of Moral Reasoning
	1 Residence: Moral Reasoning in a Common Place—Paradoxes of a Global Age
Part 2 Valuers and Value: Words on an Uncommon Ground
	2 Privatization: Jokes, Scandal, and Absurdity in a Time of Rapid Change
	3 Charity: Conversations about Need and Greed
Part 3 Contestations of the Standards of Value
	4 Custom: The Limits of Reciprocity in Village Resettlement
	5 Corruption: Insights into Combating Corruption in Rural Development
Part 4 Subaltern Reason, Moral Ambiguity, and Paradoxes of Value
	6 Fakes: Fraud, Value-Anxiety, and the Politics of Sincerity
	7 Sacra: Rumors about the Moral Force of Ritual Objects as Public Art
Part 5 After Words
	8 After Words: From Ethos to Pathos
Index
	A
	B
	C
	D
	E
	F
	G
	H
	I
	J
	K
	L
	M
	N
	O
	P
	Q
	R
	S
	T
	U
	V
	W
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Ethnographies of Moral
Reasoning

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Page 108

C ust om 97

bumped into my informant who had criticized the SDA for their
“selfishness.” He brought up a subject that many Matupi often raised
with me; what he described as the “weakening” of the clans. The
major problem, he felt, was that too many people were favoring their
own families over clans, thus leading to splits and conflict. I already
knew this individual to have good reason to see the world in this way.
He had a large number of brothers and sisters, some of whom were
more economically successful, having white collar jobs in government
or private business.

When I asked him to give an example however, I was not totally
surprised to hear him mention the name of ToNgala. My informant
told me that he had bumped into one of ToNgala’s clan nephews on
the previous Friday, and that this nephew was saying that they were
planning to break away from ToNgala’s ���� or clan section3 as they
were sick of having to do kastam with him while he favored his own
children over them. I attempted to clarify what “breaking” from the
apik meant, and I was told that it did not mean forming a new apik,
but rather it meant that they would, “stand at the back,” withdrawing
from all but the bare minimum of customary ritual clan obligations
and look after their own business first.

If land disputes no longer provide such a public arena for the
expression of tension between different kinds of kin, then there is
another arena that still does, and that is the performance of kin based
ritual that is often described using the Tok Pisin word kastam. When
I returned to Matupit around Christmas 2004 for a month-long visit,
after having left the previous February, the event that had occurred
during my absence that many people were most keen to tell me about
was the raising of a new �

� . The tubuan is the masked dancer of
a male secret ritual society, and is the iconic emblem of Tolai kastam.
Most tubuans are owned by individual apiks and often represent them
at customary rituals, in particular, at mortuary feasts where they mark
a relationship between the apik and that of the deceased. It was
younger members of ToNgala’s apik who had raised the tubuan, in
which, as one Matupi with knowledge of these things described it to
me, ToNgala, “was on the outside looking in.” My informant who
first alerted me to this situation told me that what had happened was
the continuation of what we had talked about two years before; at
first it was hidden, but now with this action it had burst out into the
open. Everyone I spoke to on the issue agreed that this act marked a
new stage in the expression of discontent with ToNgala among his
own clan. “Now they have raised a new �

� , when they previously
stood under ToNgala’s �

� .”

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K e i r M a r t i n98

I did not get the chance to question ToNgala directly about these
issues. Everyone admitted that he had helped with the preparation of
the event, and indeed his tubuan�was one of the one’s that attended
the event. I have no doubt that he would have presented this to me as
an example of his good relations with his junior clan members and his
desire to help them establish themselves in customary activities. For
his grassroots critics, however, this was clearly something that he had
done in order to avoid embarrassment. His nephews had provided so
much assistance for him in terms of kastam in the past, it was argued,
that it would have been impossible for him to refuse to help them
now, even though he knew that the whole village would see it for the
rejection that it was. As one grassroots Matupit man told me, “You
already know Martin, they give help but help doesn’t come back.”

It strikes me that this sentence encapsulates the difference in social
perspective between grassroots Tolai and Big Shots. ToNgala’s sym-
pathizers could have pointed to several instances of how he helped his
relatives. As the Matupi wealthiest in ���
, he had undoubtedly
helped his relatives on many occasions with tabu without which their
involvement in kastam would have been impossible. However, as we
shall see, the new political economy of tabu production and
distribution makes the moral status of Big Shots’ tabu a subject of
great controversy. The real issue is one of whether or not grassroots
Tolai get adequate recompense for their assistance in the preparation
of kastam. It is impossible to go into too many details concerning the
preparation of customary ritual without making public the knowl-
edge that many Tolai still consider should be taboo. It is possible,
however, to say that “payment” for customary preparation has in gen-
eral become a vexed issue among Tolai. I often heard from grassroots
Tolai a feeling that Big Shots who were preparing kastam did not
“straighten” them properly for their work of preparation. From the
perspective of Big Shots, especially those who considered themselves
experts in kastam, such complaints were by and large viewed as bogus
and opportunistic.

There was widespread agreement that there was a greater tendency
today toward demanding direct payment for such work. To me this
clearly fitted into a wider tendency to demand direct payment for
work. For example in my research into how people had built houses at
Sikut, although there were many examples of people giving and
receiving assistance on the basis of informally contracted or kin based
reciprocal relations, in most instances I was told that to get someone
to help with chopping wood, or transporting materials or clearing
bush that they would demand a cash payment. All of my informants

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Index 205

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Page 217

Index206

subjectivity—���������
possessive individuals, 107
valuable persons, 150–156

Tamilnadu, 98
Thompson, E.P., 27, 129

just price, 27
transience, 166–171
tribal, 36

uncanny, 53, 55

values, 17, 23, 29, 35, 45, 142, 145,
195, 150–156

abstract, 195
changing, 24–36
concrete relations of, 195, 197
ethical, 197
financial, 48
identity, 48

judgments, 29
money, 26–29
moral, 48
pathos, 197
shattered, 45
uncertain, 45
value-anxiety, 29
valuers, 29
words, 19, 29

Volosinov, V., 115

words, 31, 115, 196
gossip, 31
index of social change, 115
jokes, 43
rumors, 35
and speakers, 196
speakers as efficient cause,

196
World Bank, 46, 57

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