Deborah Gewertz and Frederick Errington have worked as anthropologists in Papua New Guinea for nearly two decades. In this, their second joint study of the Chambri, they consider the way those in a small-scale society, peripheral to the major centers of influence, struggle to sustain some degree of autonomy. They describe the Chambri caught up in world processes of social and cultural change, and attempt to create a "collective biography" that conveys the intelligibility and significance of the twentieth century experience of these Papua New Guineans whom they have come to know well. This biography consists of interlocking stories, twisted histories, commentaries and contexts about Chambri who are negotiating their objectives while entangled in systemic change and confronting Western representations of modernization and development.
Gewertz and Errington ( Cultural Alternatives and a Feminist Anthropology ) have produced their second book-length treatment on the Chambri, a tribal society first studied by Margaret Mead in the 1930s. This volume focuses on changes wrought in Chambri culture by tourism, formal education, urbanization and Westernization. It also examines the relationship of the tribe to the government of Papua New Guinea since 1975. The Chambri realize that the context in which they live has changed but are unsure of exactly how or what to do about it. For some, tourism is the way to obtain resources necessary to maintain their traditional lifestyle, but as the authors point out, the culture itself is altered by that very exploitation. Struggling to avoid the perils inherent in ethnology, the authors take an unconventional approach in that they seek to aid the Chambri in their fight for survival and autonomy. Gewertz and Errington's overtly political anthropology thus has ends narrower than anthropology in general: they force readers to acknowledge that all science serves certain goals and to ask whose goals it does serve. Illustrated. (July)