Remembrance of Things Passed: Memory, Body and the Politics of Feasting in New Ireland, Papua New Guinea

Oceania 66:266-277 (1996)

This paper explores the connection between body and memory for the people of the Lelet Plateau of central New Ireland. Through an examination of the processes by which memories of mortuary feasts are created and circulated, I draw attention to the embodied nature of memory as a central facet in the politics of feasting. The approach taken here differs from other prevailing approaches to the body and memory in its exploration of the ways in which memories are created through and within the body, rather than seeing the body, or things representing the body, as signs that are utilised for remembering. In particular, I examine the forms of sorcery which target the participants' bodies, making them experience diarrhoea as a mnemonic process. It is through this that a significant memory of the feast is created, one which stands out notably from numerous other memories, and is the means by which remembrance of the event is transformed into fame for the host
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