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Culture 1984

Gailey, Christine Ward. Women and Warfare: Shifting Status in Precapitalist State Formation. Culture, 1984. IV(1): 61-69.

Christine Ward Gailey explored and conducted an in-depth study of women warriors within two pre-capitalist societies, namely the Tongan island of Polynesia, the precolonial Dahomey and other related societies, her study deal with issues of rank, warfare and gender. She argued that for example, women were of strong kinship backgrounds, their positions in society whether high or low, married or unmarried were supposed to defend their “kinship” and local territories.

Gailey’s observation showed the importance of warfare to the pre-capitalist state as strengthening and reproductive, which brought in provision, health care and spying. Dahomian women were not only considered warriors, but were involved in other labour services such as servants, domestic workers and army warriors.

In the case of Tongan women, wives fought internally and externally against other islands, they guarded canoes, attend the wounded and they sought revenge for their men. Married women were not suppressed but unmarried women were raped when captured. Enemy men were captured, viciously tortured, cannibalized and valuables were given as ransom to the captors.

Within this context, the consequences of “Western weaponry” and “Christian ideology” emerged. There was forceful conversion; valuable items made by women were traded to encourage and supply weapons to help in the consolidation of power. Women in captivity were also used for the production of coconut oil and other commodities.

In Gailey’s argument she concluded her claims that women warriors were indeed dedicated. They were an asset that came with a price, by dying during combat. In addition women were also forced into prostitution and they accused men of raping them also becoming mothers of male bureaucrats. Contemporary opinions might have been one of abuse, brutality and mistreatment while for the `Others’ in their time; it was a way of defending their territories or culture. Women occupied positions of rank as warriors, slaves and princesses. Married and unmarried women, bonded or free both had no autonomy; their social or power status was being subordinated.


MARLENE ANDERSON York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Goldenberg, Sheldon. Organizational Responses to Issues Concerning the Delegation of Authority in Situations Involving Public Participation. Culture, 1984. IV(1): 33-42

Goldenberg asserts that the implementation and success of a public participation programme is directly related to the structure of the proponent organization. The delegation of authority beyond the proponent, to consultants, and further, to the public, involves risks that the organization must try to ameliorate through an efficiently structured public participation programme, and the careful weighing of how much responsibility should be given to each party involved.

Proponents tend to view this responsibility with the bias of two fallacies. Firstly, they believe that public participation simply involves informing the public, usually after important decisions have already been made. This tends to maintain the authority of the proponent while appearing to give a voice to the public. Proponents also believe that in allowing the community to voice their opinions, consultants shirk their own responsibilities. This is untrue, the author says, because the community itself is affected by the changes occurring, and should thereby be granted an important role in decision-making. The consultant should maintain only a mediating role between the two parties.

Weber’s notion of “mechanistic” versus “organic” bureaucracy is then discussed to illustrate which form of organization would support a successful public participation programme. The distortion of information moving up and down the “mechanistic” hierarchy is seen to be detrimental to these programmes. “Organic” types, on the other hand, are seen to be conducive, because their flexible nature is highly adaptive to the demands of these programmes, ensuring that the concerns of the public can reach the officials responsible for decision-making quickly and efficiently.

The author concludes by touching on the drawbacks of public participation, particularly the length of time the process takes, whether or not it is truly beneficial, and whether it is based on an empty value judgement that has no merit. If these programmes are to be used, however, the author encourages proponent organizations to modify their internal structures to an “organic” bureaucracy in order that the programme be successful.


AYSHA KHAN York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Kennedy, Dorothy. The Quest for a Cure: A Case Study in the Use of Health Care Alternatives. Culture, 1984. IV(2): 21-32.

This paper examines the tendency of an Indian man to refer to popular as well as folk medicine, despite the fact that Western medicine is fully available to them. Each sector of the medical system has its own explanation of illness and treats it accordingly. These explanatory models are affected by the culture that they come from. Kennedy bases her argument on a case study of an elderly Salish Indian man whom she studies for 8 years. In her analysis of this case, she draws on several theories from medical anthropology.

The subject, HR, shares the Indian traditional belief that an illness is caused either naturally or unnaturally. In the first case, it can be easily treated by the individual, but if there are no immediate results, it must be unnatural and thought to be caused by sorcery. HR has been suffering from ulcers on his legs since 1916, yet he started paying serious attention to the disorder in 1942, when it bothered him so much he could not work. For his treatment HR was interchanging Western Biomedicine, shamans, Chinese medicine, and self treatment. Even though in most cases “white physicians” did alleviate his symptoms for a period of time, he was never completely satisfied with the treatment. Kennedy claims that one’s satisfaction with the treatment will depend on whether the explanatory models of the illness of the patient and the healer agree. She writes that “Western medicine did not alleviate the psychological aspects of the illness.” On the other hand, even though none of the shamans were able to relieve his symptoms, they always answered his expectations. The way they explained his malaise consistent with his own view of how illnesses occur. As well, the ceremony was always a sort of a social gathering, where HR was able to receive the support of his friends and community memebers.

In her conclusion, Kennedy writes that when the symptoms were most bothersome HR used the Western medical system, yet as soon as he was better off, he referred to the shamans, who he thought would deal with the cause of the illness. His expectations were satisfied when the illness was explained in his own terms, which stem from his cultural beliefs.


ANNA PASHIN York University (Maggie Macdonald).

Muratorio, Blanca. Dominant and Subordinate Ideologies in South America: Old Traditions and New Faiths. Culture, 1984. 4(1): 3-18.

This article discussed the ideological conceptions about the Indians of the Andean Highlands and the Amazon Basin. It concentrated on the definition of ethnicity and how it has changed due to the relationships with other Indian groups, state representatives, dominant classes, and missionaries. The first part of the article discussed the way in which ideologies about the Indians was a historical process in which the dominant practices were widely accepted in determining the definition of an “Indian”. The second part of the article focused on the attempts that were made to acculturate these people into one homogeneous society and how they tried to defend the beliefs of their group that each had their own cultural diversity and specific ethnic identity.

Muratorio first introduced the topic by discussing an ethnographic novel that explains how Indians of Latin America lost their sense of identity and developed a new one that was shown to them by strangers of the new world. By doing this, Muratorio revealed, in a historical context, how the definition of ethnicity has changed because of how the dominant classes used their control over the economic, political, and cultural aspects to try to impose their views and beliefs onto them. Due to these actions, the indigenous groups of South America have since been trying to recover their cultural memories by becoming immersed in the realities they have to face in modern society. In order to study how this change took place, there has to be a specific approach that looks in detail at the subjects and their realities of history.

In terms of a historical change, Muratorio looks at the ways in which the Spanish Colonial System dominated the natives’ production methods and how they appropriated their land and labor. The purpose of this was to transform these so called “savages” into a civilized, humane society and to impose their beliefs and worldviews onto the Indians. The images of the Indians as wild savages were based on oral traditions that were passed down and shaped peoples beliefs about these unknown groups. Muratorio also discusses two 17th century chroniclers who, in their writings challenged previous Spanish historiographers by telling their own story of Indian traditions. Both of these stories portray different images of Indian history, one that leads to acculturation, and the other that leads to liberation. It was these stories that helped inspire the Indian Rebellions through the Spanish conquest.

The purpose of what the colonizers and missionaries did in the past was similar to what the groups of the dominant ideologies are doing today in trying to define what the Indians are and how they ought to act. As a result of unifying the country, centralizing politics, and creating a homogeneous culture, the Indians are being transformed into workers that are only being used to extract the valuable resources of their land. A sense of national identity is being forced upon them and their individual beliefs of ethnicity are being overthrown.

In conclusion, Muratorio states that the purpose of this study was to examine the people who are affected by dominating ideologies and to show how they have managed to survive this ordeal. Muratorio also believes that anthropologists have to create their own images of others by allowing the people who are being studied to speak for themselves, instead of letting other works guide their views.


KATIE PAVRI York University (Maggie MacDonald).

Svensson, Tom G. Sámi Literature and Handicraft as Means of Communication. Culture, 1984. 4(2): 43-54.

In this article, the author, Tom Svensson, addresses the issue of literature and artwork as a means of communication between majority populations and minority populations. The forms of communication in literature express ideas verbally whereas artwork or handicraft expresses ideas non-verbally. These “cultural expressions” between populations must unite to achieve a means of communication between the two groups, the majority population and the minority population.

Svensson refers to literature as the basic form of verbal expression and argues that there are four points to be made when referring to literature as a means of communication. The first is that of literacy. Svensson’s idea of “literacy” refers to the acquisition of a written language, in either the minority group or the majority group, which makes the relationship between the two groups “literate”. This “literate” relationship becomes a “pre-requisite” for activities such as “novel-writing” and poetry.

The second form of verbal expression Svensson refers to is “aesthetic elements” used by the Sámi from their traditional way of life. These “aesthetic elements” are traditions such as mythology, “legendary forms of expression”, and specific thought processes. For efficiency, traditions can be fused together to be used as a means of external communication of ideas within cultures.

The third form of verbal expression Svensson discusses is that of a “language variable”. What Svensson means here is that what is written in Sámi is restricted specifically to internal communication. However, this restriction is beneficial in the sense that it allows for creative “works” and increases the “versatility” of the Sámi language.

The fourth and final point Svensson discusses is that of the concept of “ethnoliterature”. What he means by “ethnoliterature” is simply an integration of original forms of literary expressions and renewed forms of literary expressions, in other words, borrowed traditions from the dominant culture.

Literature in the Sámi culture can be divided into three parts, each of which represents a different form of “literary expression”. The three parts include: “autobiographical narratives, poetry and modern novel-writing”. However, they do function similarly as means of communication. “Autobiographical narratives” are defined as, basically, the common man’s view of his own culture, or a “native theory of culture”. Poems, in the Sámi culture, are constructed to communicate the trial and tribulations of the Sámi people, or more specifically, an “insight into significant Sámi problems”. Traditionally, the original form of verbal expression in the Sámi culture is the “Yoik”, which is not always verbally expressed but can be translated into verbal terms. The “Yoiks”, along with poems, serve as the same kind of communication regarding the problems faced by the Sámi people. “Modern novel-writing” mainly includes the “dilemmas and difficulties experienced” by the Sámi culture.

The idea of “Handicraft” is a very important aspect, according to Svensson, of non-verbal communication. The “handicraft” is based on traditional forms of “handiwork” and it is this “link” to the “handiwork” tradition that “adds an ethnic specification” to the Sámi artwork.


KATHERINE LEONI York University (Maggie MacDonald).