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Names are Thicker than BloodKinship and Ownership amongst the Iatmul$
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Andrew Moutu

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264454

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264454.001.0001

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Names and the Temporal Life of Ownership

Names and the Temporal Life of Ownership

(p.145) 5 Names and the Temporal Life of Ownership
Names are Thicker than Blood

Andrew Moutu

British Academy

This chapter examines some aspects of totemic names and the connection to kinship and marriage practices. It attempts to conceptualise relationships in ontological terms by identifying and employing four Western philosophical concepts — immanence and transcendence, necessity and contingency — and concretizes the nature of this conceptual approach by introducing further ethnographic material from neighbouring societies. The chapter opens with a discussion of Iqwaye and Iatmul, showing how the ontological issues of immanence and transcendence are located in social relations. It then considers the issues of necessity and contingency as they appear in the context of kinship and clan organization amongst the Iatmul and the Manambu. A theoretical dimension of this discussion concerns the manner in which time and relationships function in affecting and coordinating the behaviour of ownership. Since Iatmul names are generally considered as abundant in stock, and since they serve as vectors of integral relationships, another theoretical interest of the chapter relates to the question of the connection between relationships and infinity.

Keywords:   Iatmul, naming system, totemic names, kinship, marriage, immanence, transcendence, necessity, contingency, infinity

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