This book suggests a bold comparative approach to broad cultural differences between Africa and Melanesia. Its theme is personhood, understood in terms of what anthropologists call embodiment. These concepts are applied to questions ranging from the meanings of spirit possession, to the logics of witchcraft and kinship relations, the use of rituals in healing, and even the impact of capitalism. Questioning common assumptions about the huge differences among these discrete areas, the contributions document surprising continuities.
The concept of noman in Hagen encompasses a local theory of consciousness, agency, and morality. Interview materials are given to illustrate notions of how the noman works. The Hageners recognize a kind of duality between mind and body but no fundamental split between them. Their theory of consciousness is also a theory of morality and ethics, as well as a recognition of creative agency in life. Key words: Mount Hagen, person, gender, body/mind.
This chapter gives an elaboration of the will and addresses the question of whether there is an entity called “free will” or not. It looks at various cases that are seen from the perspectives of cultural anthropology. This chapter uses a literary example that takes a look at the significant consequences of using free will and shows how the cosmological dimension implicates the will of the spirits, in relation to the willed actions of people.