From my field diary: 2008 goals
Since I am on something of a roll here (I’ve been sick as a dog this weekend, but now recovering) I may as well keep these long-delayed entries coming. This is the first in a series in which I want to reflect on the nature of fieldwork, with specific reference to my most recent experience in Island Melanesia.So what was I up to? I had not been to Vanuatu for almost 20 months, and wanted to make the most of this period. There were three overall goals that I was aiming to address during my visit to North Vanuatu.
- To inquire further about the Torres sukwe (graded society) and lehtemete (the most elaborate form of ritual dancing), especially in respect of the nature of the spirits that come into being during the status-alteration ceremony in which new men are inducted into the hukwe and ranked members acquire greater prestige.
- To address the history and situation of the Church of Melanesia (Anglican) in the Torres Islands, and to study local perceptions about the power and purpose of the Melanesian Brotherhood (Irareta Tasiu). The cover of the Brotherhood’s prayer book and brother (tasiu) Tenseley, at Towia Household, Loh Island.
- To record the life stories of middle-aged and elderly people with whom I had not yet had in-depth interviews, in order to round off my knowledge of the recent social history of the islands.