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Changing Contexts, Shifting MeaningsTransformations of Cultural Traditions in Oceania$
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Elfriede Hermann

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780824833664

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824833664.001.0001

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Producing Inalienable Objects in a Global Market

Producing Inalienable Objects in a Global Market

The Solien Besena in Contemporary Australia

Chapter:
(p.209) Producing Inalienable Objects in a Global Market
Source:
Changing Contexts, Shifting Meanings
Author(s):

Jacquelyn A. Lewis-Harris

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824833664.003.0013

The Solien Besena are a unique cultural group originating from the Motu-Koita and Tatana people of the Papua New Guinea south coast region. Numerous clan members migrated to eastern Australia in the 1970s up until the late 1990s. The Solien Besena now hold a distinctive ethnic marginality in both Papua New Guinea and Australia, and consequently they aggressively promote their culture despite societal pressures from the dominant Australian population and other Papua New Guinean groups. This chapter examines the economic cost of maintaining Solien Besena culture in Australia within an atmosphere of shifting cultural meanings and values. It does so using two examples: the first being the unusually dominant role of women as cultural knowledge brokers within a customary patrilineal group and the evolution of a secondary economy, encompassing the concept of inalienable wealth and possessions, that has evolved; it is based upon a cultural currency of scarce dance components—specific choreography, chants, and costume items. These components gain their value through the trader's manipulation of the contexts in which they are used and exchanged.

Keywords:   Solien Besena culture, cultural groups, Australia, Papua New Guinea, economic costs, women, cultural knowledge, secondary economy

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