On the Edge of the Global Modern Anxieties in a Pacific Island Nation

ISBN-10: 0804774064

ISBN-13: 9780804774062

Edition: 2011

Authors: Niko Besnier

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Niko Besnier's illuminating ethnography explores the malaise present in the postcolonial Global South, focused on the island kingdom of Tonga. His work highlights the ways in which segments of this small-scale society hold on to different understandings of what modernity is, how it should be made relevant to local contexts, and how it should mesh with practices and symbols of tradition. Adopting a wide-angled perspective that brings together political, economic, cultural, and social concerns, Besnier argues that life in twenty-first-century Tonga is rife with uncertainties at odds with the appearance of stability and order conveyed by traditionalism. In the political realm, these uncertainties adopt a vocabulary of neo-traditionalism, democracy, neo-liberal economics, and citizenship. In Tongans' everyday lives, they take on a shape of a more mundane nature: how to make ends meet, how to pay lip service to tradition, and how to present a modern self without opening oneself to ridicule. Engaging with key issues in contemporary, Besnier's work is ideal for introductory and upper-division courses in social and cultural anthropology.
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Book details

List price: $22.95
Copyright year: 2011
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Publication date: 3/2/2011
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 328
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.75" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.946
Language: English

Figures, Tables, Charts, and Maps
Note on Tongan Orthography and Transcription Conventions
Straddling the Edge of the Global
Tonga's Modernity
Consumption and Cosmopolitanism
When Gifts Become Commodities
Modern Bodies on the Runway
Coloring and Straightening
Shaping the Modern Body
Reconfiguring the Modern Christian
Conclusion: Sites of Modernity
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