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Making Sense of AIDSCulture, Sexuality, and Power in Melanesia$
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Leslie Butt and Richard Eves

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831936

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831936.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM HAWAII SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.hawaii.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Hawaii University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in HSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

The Trouble with Trousers

The Trouble with Trousers

Gossip, Kastom, and Sexual Culture in Vanuatu

(p.133) 7 The Trouble with Trousers
Making Sense of AIDS

Maggie Cummings

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter argues that, in Vanuatu, the “particular terror” elicited by the AIDS epidemic is that social change, especially as informed by foreign influence and “modernization,” threatens to erode or destroy kastom. Simply put, kastom is the word in Bislama (Vanuatu's lingua franca) for cultural tradition, or indigenous knowledge and practices, particularly those that differentiate ni-Vanuatu (indigenous citizens) from foreigners and expatriates. The chapter also describes how growing fears about HIV/AIDS as a foreign threat mirror and exacerbate existing fears about the troubled, often antagonistic relationship between kastom, women's dress, and women's sexual comportment—fears that characterize the sexual culture of Vanuatu.

Keywords:   Vanuatu, AIDS epidemic, foreign influence, modernization, kastom, cultural tradition, ni-Vanuatu, foreign threat, sexual culture

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