Synopses & Reviews
In examining the changes that have taken place in the secret cosmological lore transmitted in male initiation ceremonies among the Mountain Ok of Inner New Guinea, this book offers a new way of explaining how cultural change occurs. Professor Barth focuses on accounting for the local variations in cosmological traditions that exist among the Ok people, who otherwise share largely similar cultures. Rejecting existing anthropological theory as inadequate for explaining this, Professor Barth constructs a new model of the mechanisms of cultural change, emphasizing the role that individual creativity plays in it, and maintaining that cosmologies can be adequately understood only if they are regarded as knowledge in the process of communication, rather than as fixed bodies of belief.
"Barth provides significant theoretical insight into the nature of traditional and cultural variation. His focus on the mechanisms of communication and their effects on cultural symbols and the distribution of knowledge opens up a promising direction for future research." William H. McKellin, Pacific Affairs
Changes in cosmological traditions among the Mountain Ok of Inner New Guinea.
Table of Contents
Foreword Jack Goody; Map; 1. The problem; 2. An attempt at systematic comparison: descent and ideas of conception; 3. The possible interrelations of sub-traditions: reading sequence from distribution; 4. The context for events of change; 5. The results of process - variations in connotation; 6. Secret thoughts and understandings; 7. The stepwise articulation of a vision; 8. Experience and concept formation; 9. The insights pursued by Ok thinkers; 10. General and comparative perspectives; 11. Some reflections on theory and method; Bibliography; Index.