Longing for completion: Toward an aesthetics of work in Suau

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12 Citations (Scopus)


Aesthetics is a relatively recent 'discovery' for anthropologists, and on the whole has been limited to analyses of art and other forms of material culture. This article asks whether aesthetics might not also be applied to 'cultural images', or the forms in which people imagine their relationships to be made manifest. I take as my example gendered working relationships in the Suau region of Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea. In Suau the work of men and women is contingent upon, and assessed according to, values which appear at the juncture of particular relational configurations. Work is in fact the medium through which these relationships are made visible and 'real' to those who witness it. The forms taken by work refer to a morally freighted domain of values and interpretations, and the appropriate performance of work thus maintains an image of sociality as it is ideally conceived.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-109
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2000


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