Dialectical Anthropology

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 347–373

Globalisation and bridewealth rhetoric


DOI: 10.1007/s10624-009-9124-7

Cite this article as:
Maclean, N. Dialect Anthropol (2010) 34: 347. doi:10.1007/s10624-009-9124-7


This article offers a close analysis of a ‘classic’ body of ethnographic material on the rhetoric and ritual accompanying bridewealth exchange and argues both for the perspective it provides on the dynamics of cultural continuity, and for the contemporary significance of such continuity for theorising the politics of globalisation. Munn’s study on ‘spacetime’ provides a perspective on bridewealth, both as praxis of continuity and of articulation with global processes. I conclude this article by posing the question of whether subjects such as the Maring of Papua New Guinea can be said to have agency at the global level. I argue that the condition of such agency is the alienation of that agency from their specificity as subjects.


Highlands New GuineaMaringPostcolonial statesWeak statesCivil society

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia