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Title Details

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Title   Abandoned Narcotic : Kava and Cultural Instability in Melanesia 

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Author   BRUNTON Ron  ISBN   9780521040051  Add to shopping cart   
Publisher   Cambridge University Press  Group   New Zealand View shopping cart
Binding   Paperback Category   Pacific  Terms and conditions
Edition   1 Type   Go back
Publication Year   2007 
Subject   Pacific Politics 
Stock Status   Not currently in stock - contact store for availability 
Order Status   Not currently on order 
Synopsis Ron Brunton revives a problem posed by the great anthropologist W. H. R. Rivers in History of Melanesian Society (1914): how to explain the strange geographical distribution of kava, a narcotic drink once widely consumed by south-west Pacific islanders. Rivers believed that it was abandoned by many people even before European contact in favour of another drug, betel, drawing his speculations from the ideas of the diffusionist school of anthropology. However, Dr Brunton disagrees. Taking the varying fortunes of kava on the island of Tanna, Vanauta, as his starting point, he suggests that kavas abandonment can best be explained in terms of its association with unstable religious cults, and not because of the adoption of betel. The problem of kava is therefore part of a broader problem of why many traditional Melanesian societies were characteristically highly unstable, and Dr Brunton sees this instability as both an outcome and a cause of weak institutions of authority and social coordination.

2007 reprint.

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