chapter  4
18 Pages

Consumptive Production

WithCecilia McCallum

Women’s production is celebrated by women themselves in semi-ceremonial collective expeditions that female leaders organize; and women are instrumental in the distribution of male and female products, in prestations that strengthen their and their husband’s ties with kin and affines. The labour involved in the preparation of a single product might come from several people, but nevertheless the product belongs to only one person. In Melanesia, persons may be understood as processually formed ‘dividuals’ who transact gendered aspects of themselves in the constitution of sociality. Gifts between women during gardening expeditions are either prompted by the knowledge that a kinswoman is short of the particular vegetable or fruit given, or perhaps represent the donor’s showing her friendship to the recipient. The woman’s group thus spreads out in little groups of mothers and children, while the men’s group is ranged around an open space in the centre of which are ranged the plates and basins of food.