Fracturing Resemblances: Identity and Mimetic Conflict in Melanesia and the West

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Berghahn Books, 2006 - Social Science - 182 pages
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Western societies draw crucially on concepts of the 'individual' in constructing their images of the ethnic group and nation and define these in terms of difference. This study explores the implications of these constructs for Western understanding of social order and ethnic conflicts. Comparing them with the forms of cultural identity characteristic of Melanesia as they have developed since pre-colonial times, the author arrives at a surprising conclusion: he argues that these kinds of identities are more properly and adequately viewed as forms of disguised or denied resemblance, and that it is these covert commonalities that give rise to, and prolong, social divisions and conflicts between groups.

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About the author (2006)

Simon Harrison is Reader in Social Anthropology at the University of Ulster, and has carried out ethnographic fieldwork among the people of Avatip in Papua New Guinea. He has published extensively on Melanesian warfare, ethnopsychology, cultural identity, and indigenous forms of intellectual property.

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