Description - Just Talk by Karen J. Brison
"Just Talk" examines the often overlooked role of gossip and rumour in creating power in small Melanesian communities. The Kwanga of the East Sepik Province of Papua, New Guinea think that malicious gossip is almost as dangerous as sorcery. They spend hours in community meetings, looking into rumours about sorcery, adultery, and other sources of trouble. To understand how "talk" can create and ultimately destroy the position of Melanesian leaders, Karen Brison follows discussions of particular situations over time and suggest that gossip and rumour are just as central to shaping and shifting power relations as are the public meetings which are more often studied. Kwanga community leaders build reputations by spreading rumours and dropping hints that they are confidants of sorcerers. But ultimately, the same men who build reputations through gossip and innuendo find themselves victimized in turn by malicious gossip.
"Just Talk" suggests that our understanding of both Melanesian leadership and the power of words to construct social reality is greatly enhanced by attention to gossip and rumour: words are dangerous weapons that can have consequences the original speaker neither anticip
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University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
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Book Reviews - Just Talk by Karen J. Brison
Author Biography - Karen J. Brison
Karen J. Brison is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University.