Fictive Families in the Field

David R. Counts
McMaster University

Dorothy Ayers Counts
University of Waterloo

1998. Counts, David R. and Dorothy Ayers Counts. Fictive Families in the Field. In Fieldwork and Families: Constructing New Models for Ethnographic Research, pp 142-153 . Juliana Flinn, Leslie Marshall and Jocelyn Armstrong eds. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. This manuscript differs slightly from the published version. Please cite from the published version.


In an essay on Language, Anthropology and Cognitive Science, first presented in the prestigious Frazer Lecture series at the London School of Economics, Maurice Bloch says that we anthropologists learn much of what we know about the cultures of the people we study at a visceral, non-linguistic level achieved by experience (Bloch 1991). He argues that much of our "cultural knowledge" is a consequence of doing things rather than of talking about them. This is the strength and the true heritage of the method of participant observation, especially when it involves long-term research.

In this essay we build on Bloch's insight. Learning by doing includes learning by making mistakes. When we try to manipulate the cultural system of the people we study, the lessons we learn may reveal the depth of our misunderstanding of them. We may also learn uncomfortable truths about our own ethnocentrism. In our case, we reached enlightenment about the meaning of kinship and family, for the people we were studying and for us, when we tried to construct a fictive family in the field.

The Setting

We have been conducting field research in the Pacific for 30 years, beginning in 1966. All of our work has been in Papua New Guinea, and almost all of it has been done in the village of Kandoka, in the Kaliai area of West New Britain Province. We did our first research in 1966-67 as graduate students gathering data for our doctoral dissertations. At the time we had been married ten years and had two children, Rebecca who had her eighth birthday in Kandoka, and Bruce who was four. We returned to Kandoka four more times, always with children who ranged in age from two to sixteen years, and sometimes with our own graduate students in tow.

It never occurred to us to leave our children behind if they wanted to go. When he was thirteen, our oldest son did choose to remain in North America (with long-suffering grandparents) to avoid losing a year of school. In some ways, we suppose, children are a liability in the field. They get sick, they insist on eating regularly, and--being children--they consume parental time and energy. The demand for endless games of Monopoly, Crazy-Eights, and Fish was continuous. We dedicated a block of time (almost) every evening to bedtime stories, when we really needed to type up our notes. On the other hand, as many others in this volume have noted, the children's contribution to our emotional well-being and to our rapport with the people of the village was beyond calculation. The presence of our children made us vulnerable, non-threatening, and human. Right from the first we shared with the villagers the experiences of parenting, and these shared experiences provided rich topics of discussion. Our children made friends in the village, and their friendships eased our integration into the community. And most important--at least from the perspective of this essay--the villagers interacted with our children on their own terms; they did their best to turn our children into Kandokans and to incorporate them, and us, into their social system.

Family and Kinship in Kaliai

In Kaliai, as in many other societies where anthropologists do research, kin and affinal relations provide everyone's primary orientation. Persons not connected by kinship or marriage are anomalous (Geertz 1973:364-367). During the colonial period, Germans and other White outsiders who had lived in the Kaliai area were associated with institutions having external links. The Roman Catholic priests and nuns at the nearby mission at Taveliai formed their own enclave as an arm of the Church. The mission property was bounded, the structures on it were radically different from village houses, and the father and sisters had little or no informal contact with local people.

The owners/managers who lived at Iboki plantation, the only freehold plantation in the area, were even more isolated from the local population. In the early 1900s when the plantation was established, the German owners employed local people. By the time we began our field work, most of that was over. Most Iboki laborers in the fifties and sixties were contracted from the New Guinea Highlands. Neither they, nor the 'Masta and Missis,' participated much in local life. Kaliai might see the manager tending his trade store, or (less frequently) they might offer to sell him locally produced copra. Otherwise, except for a few specialized and prestigious jobs (tractor driver, foreman, carpenter) Iboki was in, but not of, Kaliai.

In 1966 Kaliai was isolated, and most villagers had limited opportunity to observe White people such as ourselves--especially White children--in their everyday lives. There were (and still are) no roads linking Kaliai with any town or marketing center. Transportation into the area was by irregular tramp copra freighter, government work boat, or mission ship. A few villagers worked in Lae on the north coast of New Guinea or Rabaul at the eastern end of New Britain, and a few students attended high school at Vunapope outside Rabaul. Cash was scarce. The average yearly income from copra sales was $US20.00 in 1966-67. Consequently, few villagers owned many manufactured items. There was no working radio or operating trade store in Kandoka when we arrived in 1966 and, therefore only limited knowledge of or contact with the outside world. For the most part, people depended on their gardens, fishing, and hunting for food, while ceremonial exchanges were the focus of social life.

When we arrived in the village, unannounced, with two small children intending to live there and wanting to talk to people (endlessly), their problem was what to do with us. The government officials who had approved our research plan had not informed the Kandokans we were coming. We did have external institutional links to our university, but these were invisible and incomprehensible to the people. Their solution to the problem presented by our presence was one that hosts often apply to anthropologists doing exotic field research in kin-focused societies. It is unacceptable to be without kin in a society where relatives define social identity. Therefore, the hosts give relatives to such persons. We were no exception. Furthermore, since members of the same kin group cannot normally marry each another, Dorothy was associated with one group and David with another. Later, following local custom, our children would join David's kin group, Gavu Sae.

Our incorporation into Kandokan kin networks took place slowly and informally. The Kandokans did not give us village names, nor have we ever been ceremonially adopted or affiliated. They did, however, do those things for two of our children. Our daughter, as firsborn child, was the first who could be ritually recognized and ceremonially incorporated into the village. Her completion of the ritual legitimized our younger children as members of the kin group to which David was assigned and made them eligible for ceremonial recognition, incorporation, and naming. Rebecca was not given a local name because a naming ritual was not part of the ceremony given for her. However, when he learned of her birth David's elder brother Jakob Mua gave Rebecca's firstborn daughter the name Dauan, after his paternal grandmother. Mua's bestowal of this name recognizes Rebecca's daughter and any other of her subsequent children as members of his kin group. After Rebecca's incorporation our other children (all sons) could also be affiliated, but only one--our middle son David Riley--was. Only Riley was both circumcised and present in Kandoka at a time when a ritual to introduce children into the men's house was being held. He was named Sakaili, one of the names customarily given to boys for whom the ritual is done. Should Riley return to northwest New Britain as an adult and identify himself as being named Sakaili, a knowledgeable local person would recognize him as someone who has been formally affiliated into Kaliai society and would know which ritual had been done for him. The Kandokans also invited our youngest son to join his brother in the ritual, but his participation would have required his penis to be supra-incised by the senior men during the ceremony. He vigorously declined.

While our affiliation was informal, it was not arbitrary. Kaliai do not recognize coincidence. They seek explanations to eliminate wherever possible the accidental and arbitrary from their lives. Therefore, it was necessary for the villagers to give us Kandokan relatives. From the early days of our first fieldwork the Kandokans debated how best to bring us into their kinship network. Their debates were not about whether we were kin to some of them. Their problem was to determine who our relatives were. Some of them were (and still are) convinced we were parents or grandparents returned from the dead. They were frustrated that we had forgotten (or wouldn't tell them) our true identities, but our ignorance was not an insurmountable obstacle. There were clues to our identity. To our hosts, our decision to live in Kandoka was not arbitrary; our choice of particular persons as friends was not whimsical; our perceived generosity with our goods--particularly food--was no accident. Finally, our decision to bring our children to live with the people of Kandoka was not coincidental. Our behavior was evidence that we were, in fact, deceased ancestors who had returned to live with our kin. So, they observed us closely, analyzing our behavior to find similarities with deceased family members, and they watched to see who we chose as friends and informants.

We know that the villagers were discussing our possible identities within six months of our arrival in 1966. Several of them later told us about the initial puzzlement over what we really wanted and who we really were. Also, within six months they had begun to discuss with us the belief--sometimes attributed to "others"--that we were returned ancestors.

By our second trip in 1971, as new faculty members at Canadian universities, the Kandokans had agreed on our identities. While we were generally known outside the village as Kandoka ele pura (Kandoka's white/spirit people), within the village we had siblings, nieces, and nephews. Dorothy even had a mother. Our kin relationships in the village did not just involve the two of us, but extended to all our relatives counted by our own calculation. For example, the first time that we returned to the village after the death of Dorothy's father in 1978, our friends mourned his passing with her as if he had been their relative, too.

The Kaliai define kinship by shared substance, and express kin relationships by sharing and exchange. Whereas blood is the metaphor for kinship in Euro-American society, the people of Kaliai consider kinship to be forged through sharing blood, semen, mother's milk, and food (c.f. Counts and Counts 1983; Schneider 1984; Flinn this volume). A fetus is built by its parents who contribute blood and semen to it, and a mother's tie to her child is reinforced when she gives it her milk. Prospective adoptive parents create and legitimize their kinship to their child by bringing food to the birth mother while she is pregnant and lactating, and by providing green coconuts for the child to drink when he or she is old enough.

From our first days in Kandoka, people brought us gifts of food "for the children." In exchange we gave tobacco, rice, tinned fish, and meat. At first we mistakenly thought that the villagers that were trading with us (see Counts 1990). We also assumed they created a fiction of kinship with us because it was easier for them to deal with us and to establish reciprocal exchange ties with us if we were incorporated into their social system, including their system of kin relations.

We appreciated their incorporating us into their society. Because of the fiction of our kinship, we could share food and resources with members of our Kandokan families and engage in reciprocal exchange with the others. We contributed cash or shell money to the ceremonies sponsored by our village relatives and received wealth items from other groups, just as our kin did. While the entire community was responsible for assuring that we and our children always had a supply of fresh fruits and vegetables, and while everyone answered our questions and suffered our presence with good humor, some were more responsible for us than others. These people, our closest fictive kin, unfailingly provided us with green coconuts, bananas, sugar cane, pineapples, papaya, fish, fresh pork, and vegetables--usually given to us "for the children."

Establishing our own Fictive Family

In 1975, on our third research trip to Kaliai, another Canadian, William R. (Bil) Thurston, then our graduate research assistant, accompanied us. It was on this trip that we decided to emulate our Kaliai relatives and create our own fictive family.

By 1975 our place in Kandoka was firmly established. Our periodic return was expected and predictable. In the nine years since our first appearance in Kandoka, we had obtained university appointments and had returned for a short visit in 1971. We had maintained a limited but regular correspondence with some villagers, and they knew that we were coming in July to stay for most of another year. We told them that we were bringing three of our four children, the youngest of whom they had never seen, and a graduate student from McMaster University who wanted to study the language of a neighboring group, the Anem.

The Lusi-speaking Kaliai have long-established links of trade and intermarriage with the Anem. In 1966 we had found one of the coastal Anem villages to be especially pleasant, so we wrote our Kandokan friends that Bil Thurston should go to that village for his research. We also asked them to arrange for him to live there.

When we arrived, we found that the Kandokans had vetoed our choice of a research site for Bil. They had better links to Karaiai, another Anem-Kaliai village located a little further east down the coast than the one we had chosen. After a few weeks of acclimation in Kandoka with us, Bil--with no little trepidation--loaded his gear onto a canoe and, with David's relatives to smooth the way, he set off on his own adventure. We had arranged that he would come periodically to visit us, and we were delighted when we learned that we would see him the following month at Papua New Guinea's Independence Day celebrations at the Roman Catholic mission at Taveliai on September 25, 1975. We also wanted to be able to visit Bil at Karaiai. This would not have been a problem had David been the one who was likely to do the visiting. It was likely, however,that Dorothy or Rebecca, our sixteen-year-old daughter who was close friends with Bil, would be the ones to visit, quite possibly without David. That, given the assumptions of the Lusi-Kaliai and the Anem about the inevitable behavior of adult men and women alone together, was a problem. They would have interpreted a visit paid by either Dorothy or Rebecca to any unrelated male as impropriety.

Our solution was to create a situation in which we could do the visiting our way as we liked. We wanted to visit each other, share sleeping arrangements, etc., without scandalizing the people in either village. Just as the Kandokans had created kinship ties for us to make life easier for all of us, we decided to create kinship with Bil. So Bil Thurston became Dorothy's distant relative. We were vague about the exact connection, but this worried no one. After all, they were also vague about the precise ties linking them to distant relatives in other communities, although they were certain of the relationships and depended on them when trading or visiting in distant villages or those in non-Lusi speaking areas--such as those in Anem-land. The arrangement permitted Dorothy and Bil to treat each other as siblings (Dorothy and Bil became ol sista in Tok Pisin, the creole spoken as a second language by almost all Kaliai). This made Bil and Rebecca mother's brother/sister's daughter, a close and supportive relationship among both the Lusi and the Anem. It also accounted for David's providing Bil with a small boat and outboard engine. This was perfectly reasonable since David had received his wife from Bil's family, and the obligations of a man to his wife's kinsfolk never end. Our primary objective was to place Bil in a context that people could recognize and accept, and to simplify our visiting him. Establishing fictive kinship with Bil was a perfect solution. Bil Thurston is preparing another paper for this collection, because the Anem-Kaliai regarded us as his family as surely as the Lusi-Kaliai considered him to be ours.

As Independence Day approached, the level of excitement in Kaliai was palpable. There were incipient 'cargo beliefs' rumbling just below the surface, especially among interior groups. Rumors that the mountains would open and give forth all sorts of good things left believers in nervous anticipation. They also gave nonbelievers a lot of comic material to parody for entertainment. Others viewed independence with a mixture of fear and apprehension. Would the departure of the Australians who had administered the country since the end of World War I leave them bereft? Would they be required, as members of a modern and independent state, to forgo their systems of reciprocal exchange and follow the "rule of money" on which the cash economy was based? Would they be forced to buy everything, even from their relatives? Despite these contradictory concerns, everyone expected to spend three days celebrating at the mission grounds. The high point of the event was to be the ceremonial flag raising on the morning of Independence Day. Flag raising was preceded by a pageant by the children from the mission school illustrating the momentous changes taking place that day. Following the flag raising there was a dance competition entered by every conceivable constituent group in the Kaliai area. Everyone had a role. The Catholic priest, who was a German national, agreed to be master of ceremonies. The Australian Blake family, who owned Iboki Plantation, was to attend, and their son Charles agreed to act as judge of the dance competition. Also offered the chance to serve as judges, we pleaded bias and instead agreed to film the event. Bil and Rebecca had more central roles. Bil, by then established in Karaiai, joined the other unmarried young males as a dancer in the Karaiai's presentation of boilo, a dance performed with spears and shields. The young people's club of Kandoka invited Rebecca to join their dance troupe for the competition. Our age-mates privately assured us that, although the young women would be wearing traditional costume and dancing with bare breasts, Rebecca's attire would not offend White standards of modesty. Given the use of shrubbery in traditional dance costume, they would ensure that Rebecca more nearly resembled a bush than a bare-breasted young woman.

August and September are the season of the Rai in northwest New Britain, a time of sunny skies and gentle southeasterly breezes from the mountains. September 1975 was a classic month of Rai weather, and Rebecca joined the other young people of Kandoka in nightly rehearsals for their performance. Nearly everyone in Kaliai moved to the area near the mission and the village of Taveliai for the three-day party. We, some of our friends from Kandoka, and Bil Thurston were given a house in a satellite village a short walk from Taveliai. Most people camped out, but we enjoyed relative luxury.

Independence Day dawned bright and sunny. The ceremonies, starting about nine in the morning, went with few hitches, despite some comic moments. The dance competition, following the flag raising at noon, seemed endless, with group after group performing. Bil Thurston, attired as a bush in his own right, stamped his way through boilo with his fellow Karaiai, and then joined us in the photographic work.

The Kandoka young people's club entered the field about mid-afternoon. As they reached the center, arms linked, a moving garden of crotons, bark cloth wraps, and the provocative swaying of woven fringes that characterize the women's dance costume, six older women rushed onto the field from different directions carrying large rolled bundles of pandanus sleeping mats. They threw these onto the ground at Rebecca's feet and then ran off. There were a few moments of pandemonium as men, women, and children converged on the field laughing, shouting, and grabbing up the mats to carry them away. We were astonished. We had no idea what was happening. Nor did we have any idea where it would lead.

It is normal for anthropologists in the field to misunderstand what is happening around them. However, figuring out what was going on here took on an added urgency because it was happening to us. Our local friends had long since despaired of our being able to remember anything unless we wrote it down. They expected us to be confused because our experience with firstborn celebrations had been limited. As they patiently explained, we had just witnessed the first formal recognition by the villagers of Rebecca's status as firstborn. Among many people of the northwest New Britain coast, virtually everything that a firstborn child does warrants recognition the first time they do it, and these ceremonies reflect strongly on the status of the parents (Scaletta 1985). This was Rebecca's first time to dance publicly as a villager. She was our firstborn; therefore, it was appropriate to recognize her performance. Her "first" as a dancer was honored by the women who made gifts of pandanus mats. While pandanus mats have mundane uses--people sleep on them and use them for protection from the rain--they are most important as women's wealth. They are a local specialty, which, with shell currency, underpins intercoastal trade.

So, all was well. The competition proceeded, and the grand finale saw all the competing groups on the field together. Dinner for the honored guests at the mission followed the finale, while the exhausted crowds returned to their villages to resume daily life. No mountains had opened and no Draconian laws about the use of money had been proclaimed. Some people were disappointed, while the fears of others were relieved.

A few days later, David's elder brother Jakob Mua, realizing the depths of our ignorance of appropriate behavior, advised us of our debt to the women who had honored Rebecca. One implication of their act was that they had claimed kin rights over Rebecca. They had, in effect, become her mothers. The women were elders from the group to which Dorothy had been assigned and were celebrating the first public dance performance of their child. David, as the father and a member of the group claiming Rebecca as its own, should reciprocate by returning the gifts from Dorothy's group in proper style. This could not be done simply or privately. The honour had been bestowed publicly, so its recognition should be done the same way. Since we were going to have a public ceremony to return the gifts, Mua suggested, it was a suitable occasion for the ceremony that would formally affiliate Rebecca with Gavu Sae, his and David's men's-house group. He suggested that we hold a vaulo 'ceremony'.

Among the Lusi-Kaliai kinship is bilateral but, for the most part, descent is patrilineal. When a child reaches the right age (usually seven or eight years) the parents should sponsor a vaulo or some other ceremony to publicly incorporate him or her into father's kin group and men's house. The focus of this ceremony is the presentation of gifts from the father's kin group to the mother's. These gifts assert the right of the father's group to claim the child as their own. The ceremony does not end the child's links to its mother's group, whose members retain an active interest in the child throughout its life. The ceremony is most significant when the parents are politically ambitious and hold the ceremony for their firstborn child. In that situation, enormous quantities of wealth--shell money, pigs, pandanus mats, carved wooden bowls from the master carvers of the Siasi Islands, clay pots from the renowned potters of Sio on Papua New Guinea's north coast, the same kinds of things used to validate a marriage--are distributed to the mother's family. The focal person in the sponsoring (or claiming) group is the child's father. It is his prestige that is on the line. The focal person in the receiving group--the one who is given the most lavish gifts--is the oldest of the mother's brothers. It is particularly important that he receive shell money and a pig.

This is the way that events unfolded. When we set up our fictive kinship with Bil, we did not know that Independence Day was coming. When we learned about the Independence Day celebrations, we did not know that Rebecca would be invited to dance at them. When we and Rebecca agreed that she would dance, we had no idea that it would be a "first" occasion. When Rebecca's mothers honored her, holding a ceremony to reciprocate seemed a simple and appropriate thing to do. When the ceremony became a vaulo, events that we set into motion came to unexpected fruition. Rebecca had a mother's brother down the coast in Karaiai. Bil Thurston was about to get a pig.

The vaulo was a success. Lusi-Kaliai like parties, and the one sponsored by the local pura 'spirits or White people' was to be quite an occasion. Visitors came from all the Lusi-speaking villages in Kaliai, and Bil arrived surrounded by his Anem supporters. We compensated the women who had claimed Rebecca. Then, surrounded by our Gavu Sae relatives, we spent the night receiving gifts of shell currency and cash from supporters and assessing the situation to see how much and what was needed for presentation to whom.

Two days later, Bil Thurston left in a small boat. He was accompanied by Rebecca, his sister's daughter; a well-trussed and annoyed female pig who complained loudly all the way to Karaiai; ten fathoms of shell money; and fifteen Papua New Guinea kina, then worth about US$15.00. He had a bemused look on his face.


Taking our children to the field was never part of a research design or strategy for us. We simply never considered any alternative to their accompanying us, especially when they were young. Having children in Kaliai was far easier on us emotionally than leaving them behind would have been. The year our thirteen-year-old son remained in the U.S. with his "real" grandparents was, by all reports, a good one for both him and them, but we missed him. When we thought about being a family in the field, or when we weighed its advantages and disadvantages, we did so instrumentally. Primarily, we thought our children's presence in the village made it easier to establish rapport with the Kaliai because, as other contributors to this volume have also noted, the common experience of raising children created a link of humanity between us.

Our decision to establish fictive kin links between Bil Thurston and us was instrumental also, but it had ramifications we never foresaw. Until we set in motion the events that culminated in Rebecca's vaulo, we thought we understood Kaliai kinship. The consequences of those events surprised us because we assumed our inclusion in the kinship system of the Kaliai was a fiction for them as well as for us. They had, we thought, made us members of their families for the same reason that we had made Bil a member of our Canadian family in the field: doing so provided us all with mutually understood guidelines for behaviour and made life a bit easier for everyone. Although it was a convenient fiction, in our minds we were no more their real kinsfolk than Bil was ours. We were play acting, and we thought they were as well. Our children were our only real "family in the field," or at least so we thought.

At this point our story becomes a cautionary tale. The message is we must take seriously what people tell us, especially when they are telling us about ourselves. In Orson Scott Card's novel Speaker for the Dead, the main character, Ender, tries to warn the resident anthropologists that they are ethnocentric "cultural supremacists to the core." He reproaches them: "You're so busy pretending to believe them [the other, as it is fashionable to call them], there isn't a chance in the world you could learn anything from them." When a anthropologist protests "We've devoted our lives to learning about them!", Ender retorts "Not from them" (Card 1986:248).

So, what did our experience enable us to learn from the people of Kandoka?

First, we had not understood the behavioral and emotional content of our kinship ties in Kandoka; we never believed in their reality. We knew that kinship and family ties are culturally constructed. We would never be so ethnocentric as to need David Schneider's warning not to be seduced by the North American assumption that kinship is rooted in biogenetic fact (Schneider 1984). We knew better, at least on the level of what Bloch calls "the dangerous intermediary of language" (1991:183). We had lectured on it often enough in our introductory anthropology classes. We received our comeuppance.

Second, we learned that when members of our Kandokan family brought us bananas, pineapples, and watermelons, and we gave them rice, fresh bread, and tinned beef, we were not just exchanging groceries. We and they were becoming family. Rebecca's village mothers were the same women who had brought food "for the children." When they fed us and our children and received food from us in return, we were exchanging the stuff of which substance is made: we were becoming Kaliai. Rebecca's mothers were not just calling us by kin terms. They were creating kinship with us and our children. They were, in fact, becoming Rebecca's mothers. Later, when Mua named Rebecca's daughter--the firstborn of our firstborn--he was giving her the name of his grandmother, and David's grandmother as well. We had a right to use the name, and Mua had the right to bestow it. We are one family.

Third, when we claimed Bil as a family member, our relationship to him was no more fictitious than was our relationship with our Kandokan kin. Bil had lived with us and shared meals with us in Canada and in Kandoka. We had shared the substance of which kinship is made; therefore, in Kaliai terms we were family.

Fourth, a consequence of Rebecca's incorporation into her fathers' kin group was that our status as Kandokans was formalized and we became real persons. This was brought home to Dorothy six years later when David Riley was introduced into the men's house of one of his grandfathers and given his new name. Women are not permitted to be present when spirits are in the village. Always before, when the women withdrew Dorothy was permitted to stay in the village. This time, however, one of Rebecca's mothers took Dorothy's arm. "Come on," she urged. "The spirits are coming. We must go." So Dorothy, as a real human woman vulnerable to dangerous spirit power, ran with the others to a sanctuary where they feasted, clowned, and mocked the serious rituals of the men (see Counts and Counts 1992).

Fifth, our experience resulted in an irrevocable shift in the continuum of participant observation. We could no longer be primarily observers; we were participants who had real families in the field, with all the entitlements and obligations that entails.

Finally, we learned as participants the stress and sheer terror of trying to meet ceremonial obligations. There is no substitute for bearing full responsibility for the success or failure of a major ceremony. It does wonders to focus the mind. Our academic knowledge of the significance and manner of shell currency exchanges was insignificant in comparison to the experience of trying to determine if we had enough pigs and shell money to avoid losing status. Discovering that he was five fathoms short at 5:30 a.m. and that he must float a loan from a relative or be shamed is an experience David is not likely to forget. Jakob Mua's comment, while made about ceremonial obligations, is also true for our understanding of what it means to have and be family in Kaliai: "Before you just knew about this intellectually," he said. "Now you feel it!"

References Cited

Bloch, Maurice
1991 Language, anthropology and cognitive science. Man 26(2):183-198.

Card, Orson Scott
1986 Speaker for the Dead. New York: Tom Doherty Associates.

Counts, David R.
1990 Too Many Bananas, Not Enough Pineapples, and No Watermelon At All: Three Object Lessons in Living With Reciprocity. In The Humbled Anthropologist: Tales From the Pacific, edited by Phil DeVita, pp. 18-24. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Counts, David R., and Dorothy Ayers Counts
1992 Exaggeration and Reversal: Clowning Among the Lusi- Kaliai. In Clowning as Critical Practice: Performance Humor in the South Pacific, edited by William Mitchell, pp. 88-103. ASAO Monograph 13. Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Counts, Dorothy Ayers, and David R. Counts
1983 Father's Water Equals Mother's Milk: The Conception of Parentage in Kaliai, West New Britain. Mankind 14:46-56.

Geertz, Clifford
1973 The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books.

Scaletta (McPherson), Naomi
1985 Primogeniture and primogenitor: Firstborn child and mortuary ceremonies among the Kabana (Bariai) of West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Ph.D. Dissertation. McMaster University. Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Schneider, David
1994 A Critique of the Study of Kinship. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

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