Past events

Book Lauch: Built in Niugini & Made in Niugini
Thursday 09 November 2017, 06:00pm - 08:00pm
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BOOK LAUNCH

AT THE ROYAL ANTHROPOLOGICAL INSTITUTE

Built in Niugini: Constructions in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea
and
Made in Niugini: Technology in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea

The RAI Series Volumes One & Two

by Prof Paul Sillitoe, Durham University

Thursday 9 November at 6.00pm

Built in Niugini: Constructions in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea:

The sequel to the acclaimed Made in Niugini, which explored in unparalleled depth the material world of the Wola comprising moveable artefacts, Built in Niugini continues Paul Sillitoe’s project in exemplary fashion, documenting the built environment, architecture and construction techniques in a tour de force of ethnography. But this is more than a book about building houses. Sillitoe also shows how material constructions can serve to further our understandings of intellectual constructions. Allowing his ethnography to take the lead, and paying close attention to the role of tacit understandings and know-how in both skilled work and everyday dwelling, his close experiential analyses inform a phenomenologically inflected discussion of profound philosophical questions – such as what can we know of being-in-the-world – from startlingly different cultural directions.

The book also forms part of a long-term project to understand a radically different ‘economy’, which is set in an acephalous order that extends individual freedom and equality in a manner difficult to imagine from the perspective of a nation-state – an intriguing way of being-in-the-world that is entwined with tacit aspects of knowing via personal and emotional experience. This brings us back to the explanatory power of a focus on technology, which Sillitoe argues for in the context of ‘materiality’ approaches that feature prominently in current debates about the sociology of knowledge. Archaeology has long been to the fore in considering technology and buildings, along with vernacular architecture, and Sillitoe contributes to a much needed dialogue between anthropology and these disciplines, assessing the potential and obstacles for a fruitful rapprochement.

Made in Niugini: Technology in the highlands of Papua New Guinea:

This impressive and inspiring volume has as its modest origins the documentation of a contemporary collecting project for the British Museum. Informed by curators’ critiques of uneven collections accompanied by highly variable information, Sillitoe set out with the ambition of recording the totality of the material culture of the Wola of the southern highlands of Papua New Guinea, at a time when the study of artefacts was neglected in university anthropology departments. His achievements, presented in this second edition of Made in Nuigini with a new contextualizing preface and foreword, brought a new standard of ethnography to the incipient revival of material culture studies, and opened up the importance of close attention to technology and material assemblages for anthropology. The ‘economy’ fundamentally concerns the material aspects of life, and as Sillitoe makes clear, Wola attitudes and behaviour in this regard are radically different to those of the West, with emphasis on ‘maker users’ and egalitarian access to resources going hand in hand with their stateless and libertarian principles.

The project begun in Made in Niugini, which necessarily restricted itself to moveable artefacts, is continued and extended by the newly published Built in Niugini, which deals with immoveable structures and buildings. It argues that the study of material constructions offers an unparalleled opportunity to address fundamental philosophical questions about tacit knowledge and the human condition.

You can order the books online here http://www.seankingston.co.uk/publishing.html

The event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to https://niugini.eventbrite.co.uk

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
London
W1T 5BT
United Kingdom
http://www.therai.org.uk