Browsing by Author "Autio, Petra"

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  • Autio, Petra (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Hard Custom, Hard Dance: Social Organisation, (Un)Differentiation and Notions of Power in a Tabiteuean Community, Southern Kiribati is an ethnographic study of a village community. This work analyses social organisation on the island of Tabiteuea in the Micronesian state of Kiribati, examining the intertwining of hierarchical and egalitarian traits, meanwhile bringing a new perspective to scholarly discussions of social differentiation by introducing the concept of undifferentiation to describe non-hierarchical social forms and practices. Particular attention is paid to local ideas concerning symbolic power, abstractly understood as the potency for social reproduction, but also examined in one of its forms; authority understood as the right to speak. The workings of social differentiation and undifferentiation in the village are specifically studied in two contexts connected by local notions of power: the meetinghouse institution (te maneaba) and traditional dancing (te mwaie). This dissertation is based on 11 months of anthropological fieldwork in 1999‒2000 in Kiribati and Fiji, with an emphasis on participant observation and the collection of oral tradition (narratives and songs). The questions are approached through three distinct but interrelated topics: (i) A key narrative of the community ‒ the story of an ancestor without descendants ‒ is presented and discussed, along with other narratives. (ii) The Kiribati meetinghouse institution, te maneaba, is considered in terms of oral tradition as well as present-day practices and customs. (iii) Kiribati dancing (te mwaie) is examined through a discussion of competing dance groups, followed by an extended case study of four dance events. In the course of this work the community of close to four hundred inhabitants is depicted as constructed primarily of clans and households, but also of churches, work co-operatives and dance groups, but also as a significant and valued social unit in itself, and a part of the wider island district. In these partly cross-cutting and overlapping social matrices, people are alternatingly organised by the distinct values and logic of differentiation and undifferentiation. At different levels of social integration and in different modes of social and discursive practice, there are heightened moments of differentiation, followed by active undifferentiation. The central notions concerning power and authority to emerge are, firstly, that in order to be valued and utilised, power needs to be controlled. Secondly, power is not allowed to centralize in the hands of one person or group for any long period of time. Thirdly, out of the permanent reach of people, power/authority is always, on the one hand, left outside the factual community and, on the other, vested in community, the social whole. Several forms of differentiation and undifferentiation emerge, but these appear to be systematically related. Social differentiation building on typically Austronesian complementary differences (such as male:female, elder:younger, autochtonous:allotochtonous) is valued, even if eventually restricted, whereas differentiation based on non-complementary differences (such as monetary wealth or level of education) is generally resisted, and/or is subsumed by the complementary distinctions. The concomitant forms of undifferentiation are likewise hierarchically organised. On the level of the society as a whole, undifferentiation means circumscribing and ultimately withholding social hierarchy. Potential hierarchy is both based on a combination of valued complementary differences between social groups and individuals, but also limited by virtue of the undoing of these differences; for example, in the dissolution of seniority (elder-younger) and gender (male-female) into sameness. Like the suspension of hierarchy, undifferentiation as transformation requires the recognition of pre-existing difference and does not mean devaluing the difference. This form of undifferentiation is ultimately encompassed by the first one, as the processes of the differentiation, whether transformed or not, are always halted. Finally, undifferentiation can mean the prevention of non-complementary differences between social groups or individuals. This form of undifferentiation, like the differentiation it works on, takes place on a lower level of societal ideology, as both the differences and their prevention are always encompassed by the complementary differences and their undoing. It is concluded that Southern Kiribati society be seen as a combination of a severely limited and decentralised hierarchy (differentiation) and of a tightly conditional and contextual (intra-category) equality (undifferentiation), and that it is distinctly characterised by an enduring tension between these contradicting social forms and cultural notions. With reference to the local notion of hardness used to characterise custom on this particular island as well as dance in general, it is argued in this work that in this Tabiteuean community some forms of differentiation are valued though strictly delimited or even undone, whereas other forms of differentiation are a perceived as a threat to community, necessitating pre-emptive imposition of undifferentiation. Power, though sought after and displayed - particularly in dancing - must always remain controlled.
  • Autio, Petra (1999)
    Työn aiheena ovat Palaulta Guamille muuttaneet siirtolaiset ja heidän traditiokäsityksensä. Tutkielma perustuu antropologiseen kenttätyöhön Guamin palaulaisyhteisössä kesä-syyskuussa 1996 sekä Palauta koskevaan etnografiseen kirjallisuuteen. Kenttätyöaineisto koostuu muistiinpanoista ja nauhoitetuista haastatteluista. Tutkielman tarkoitus on kuvata palaulaista käsitettä siukang eli custom sekä siihen liittyviä diskursseja ja käytänteitä Guamin siirtolaisyhteisössä. Siukang/custom viittaa tapoihin, perinteisiin ja erityisesti sosiaalisen vaihdon rituaaleihin, ja sitä tarkastellaan tässä kulttuurin representaationa eli traditiona. Päätavoite on selvittää, millaisena siirtolaiset ymmärsivät traditionsa, siinä tapahtuneet muutokset sekä suhteensa palauhun. Lisäksi pohditaan yleisemmin koko palaulaisen tradition syntyyn, sisältöön ja muotoon vaikuttaneita tekijöitä. Työn yleisenä teoreettisena viitekehyksenä ovat keskustelut moderniteetin ja traditioiden suhteesta. Tarkempi teoreettinen lähestymistapa liittyy traditioiden rakentumiseen ja kulttuurin objektivoinnin prosesseihin. Toinen lähestymistapa on vaihtoteoreettinen, koska sosiaalinen vaihto on keskeinen osa palaulaista traditiota, ja keskeistä on vaihto sosiaalisen uusintamisen muotona. Guamin palaulaisten asema kotimaansa ulkopuolella elävänä ryhmänä, joka pyrkii säilyttämään yhteydet kotimaahansa, liittää työn myös keskusteluun ns. diasporayhteisöistä. Tutkielmassa keskustellaan palaulaisen traditiokäsitteen (siukang/custom) historiasta sekä customista tietona, (vaihto)käytänteinä, saarten välisen yhteydenpidon muotona ja moraalina. Tiedot käsitteen historiasta viittaavat siihen, että siirtomaavalta loi tarpeen erilaiseen kulttuurin objektivointiin kuin aikaisemmin. Keskustelut tiedosta ja sosiaalisesta vaihdosta perinteisessä palaulaisessa yhteiskunnassa pyrkivät kuitenkin osoittamaan, että nykyinen kulttuurin elementtien reflektointi ei eroa radikaalisti aikaisemmasta ja että tiedon ja vaihdon saamilla merkityksillä on ollut ajallista jatkuvuutta. Läpi työn tarkastellaan Guamin palaulaisten customin muutoksia ja eroja suhteessa Palaun customiin sekä siirtolaisten omaa suhtautumista eroihin. Tarkasteltaessa suhtautumista custom-tietoon ja custom-vaihdon käytänteisiin tulee esille, että monissa yhteyksissä muutokset customissa hyväksyttiin joko olosuhteiden väistämättömänä seurauksena tai myönteisenä osoituksena palaulaisten sopeutumiskyvystä. Vaikka osa siirtolaisista paheksui myös käytänteiden muutoksia, kielteisimmin suhtauduttiin custom-moraalissa nähtyihin muutoksiin. Sosiaalista vaihtoa lähestytään analysoimalla kahta Guamin palaulaisten custom-tilaisuutta ja niiden erilaisia rahaan ja ruokaan liittyviä käytänteitä. Tilaisuudet edustivat kahta, eri sosiaalisiin järjestelmiin (sukulaisuus ja siirtolaisyhteisö) perustuvaa vaihdon muotoa, jotka liittyivät erilaisiin yhteisöllisyyden muotoihin ja yhteiskuntiin. Analyysi pyrkii osoittamaan, että vaihtokäytänteiden erot ovat merkityksellisiä suhteessa palaulaisen kulttuurin käsitteisiin (salainen/julkinen ja avoin/suljettu), vaikka palaulaiset itse liittivät muutokset eksplisiittisesti guamilaiseen yhteiskunnan vaikutuksiin. Custom on myös Guamin ja Palaun välisen yhteydenpidon muoto, jossa custom vaihtona ja symbolina sekä yhdistää että erottaa Palaun ja Guamin palaulaisia. Tutkielmassa esitetään, että Guamin palaulaisten custom on keskustelua kulttuurin muutoksesta, joka siirtolaisten on vieraassa yhteiskunnassa kohdattava. Custom on tapa puhua Guamin ja Palaun, menneisyyden ja nykyisyyden välisistä eroista: customin tekeminen ja siitä puhuminen ovat siirtolaisyhteisön tapa neuvotella omaa ambivalenttia asemaa sekä suhteessa ympäröivään yhteiskuntaan Guamilla että suhteessa kotisaareen Palauhun.
  • Autio, Petra (1999)
    The topic of this thesis is Palauan migrants on Guam and their conception of their own tradition. The thesis is based on fieldwork in the Palauan community of Guam from June to September 1996, and on ethnographic literature on Palau. The data consists of field notes and taped interviews. The purpose is to describe the Palauan concept of siukang or custom, and the discourses and practices it consists of in the Patauan migrant community on Guam. Siukang/custom refers to customs, traditions and social exchange ceremonies, and in this work it is regarded as a representation of culture, a tradition. The aim has been to examine how Guam Palauans understand their tradition, the changes that have occurred in it, and their relationship to Palau. Also questions about the development, form and content of the Palauan tradition are addressed. The general theoretical background of this work is the discussion in the social sciences about modernity and tradition. The more specific frameworks concern (1) the processes of cultural objectification and (2) social exchange, where emphasis is on the idea of social reproduction. As a community maintaining connections to the home land, the Palauans on Guam can also be regarded as a diasporic community. After a brief history of the Palauan concept of tradition, custom is discussed as knowledge, as exchange practices, as communication with Palau, and as morality. The historical overview suggests that colonialism created a need for a different kind of cultural objectification than before. However, as the discussions about knowledge and social exchange in the traditional Palauan society attempt to show, the present reflections on elements of culture does not differ radically from the past. Moreover, the meanings of knowledge and exchange have had continuity over time. Throughout the work changes and differences of the Guam Palauan custom in relation to custom in Palau, as well as the migrants' attitude to the them, are assessed. Regarding custom knowledge and custom exchange, it turns out that in many contexts the changes were accepted as inevitable consequences of circumstances or as positive proof of the Palauans' ability to adapt. Despite some negative views on the changes in practices, the most unacceptable were the changes in custonm morality. Palauan social exchange is examined by analysing two custom ceremonies, and their different practices connected to food and money. The ceremonies are seen to represent two forms of exchange, based on different social systems (kinship and migrant community) and forms of cornmunality, and belonging to different societies. It is argued that even though external circumstances of the Guamanian society were said to have caused the changes, the meanings and significance of the changes and the new practices are derived from certain Palauan cultural notions (hidden/public and open/closed). In the relationships between Guam-based and Palau-based Palauans, custom is both a uniting and a dividing symbol. In the thesis it is suggested that the migrants' custom is a way of discussing cultural change, which the migrants have to face when they are living in foreign society. Custom is a way of discussing differences between Guam and Palau, the past and the present: for Guam Palauans, doing custom and talking about custom is a way of negotiating their ambivalent position in relation to both the society on Guam and their home island Palau.