16 January 2017

Book Review: Gender on the Edge


Niko Besnier is a Dutch anthropology professor and Kalissa Alexeyeff is an Australian genderstudies lecturer and together edited and contributed to this book.

Both popular and academic accounts of the Pacific narrate sexuality and (from the colonial, capitalist view) non-heteronormative sexualities as free floating, culturally recognized and sanctioned forms and identifies, uniformly throughout the Pacific.

Gender on the Edge dispels this view. Sexuality is socially reproduced in each society based upon its own history and the struggle between traditional authority and the globalizing tendencies of capitalist/imperialist domination.

Some of the anthropological matters could get a bit boring although I appreciated the distinction between mahu and raerae in Tahiti, clarification of the status of fa'afafine in Samoa -- especially in relation to the evangelicalization of Samoan Christian -- and most importantly, sexuality in Micronesia. I have mentioned previously the lack of writing on the matter -- whether sexuality and colonialism intersection in societies where traditional authority appears to predominate (what has been joking referred to as the only gay Eskimo).
The version I read was a 388 page paperback published by the University of Hawaii Press (March 31, 2014).

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