By Janet Hoskins
During this leading edge learn, six men and women from jap Indonesia narrate their very own lives through speaking approximately their possessions; household items used to build a coherent identification via a technique of id and "self-historicizing." Janet Hoskins explores how issues are given biographical value, entangled in sexual politics, and expressed in dualistic metaphors the place the regular differences among individual and item and feminine and male are drawn in strange methods.
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Additional info for Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of Peoples' Lives
Local officials announced that a new ordinance had been passed to ban the wearing of bush knives in the city. The ordinance was designed to reduce the incidence of violent quarrels, since these eighteen-inch knives were often swung about in verbal confrontations and could cause serious wounds or death. Morn Daku told them that each Sumbanese man needed three personal accessories to mark his "essential manhood" (Ind. perlengkapan laki-Iaki Sumba), so it would be impossible for him to remove his bush knife, headband, or betel bag in a formal context.
A number of other theorists have argued that objects and subjects are mutually defined and reciprocally constitutive, and they have looked at moments of transaction and display (Munn 1986, Miller 1987) in which an object's exchange value is determined. The personal possessions I discuss in this work, while sometimes also involved in exchange, are more significant because of the ways they are remembered, hoarded, or used as objects of fantasy and desire. They are used to reify characteristics of personhood that must then be narratively organized into an identity.
Separated from the task of constant translation, I began to appreciate for the first time the verbal artistry and traditional kuowledge of my teacher. By happy coincidence, his nephew was called back to government service just as our working relationship became more solid, and I started to see how Marn Daku was a magician with words. His delight in conversation came not from outlining a long ritual protocol, as we had done for many of the past months, hut from playing with the paradoxes of ritual verse-the occasionally complementary, usually opposing couplets of parallel meaning whose sense was suspended in a web of dualistic classifications.
Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of Peoples' Lives by Janet Hoskins