DOI link for Difﬁcult individuals
Difﬁcult individuals book
The previous chapter has discussed several different dimensions of agency, and gave particular attention to daily life and routines. The details of such basic activities as eating, sleeping, resting, moving and working could constitute what has been called, with reference to life beside the Amazon, ‘another type of identity’ (Harris 2000, 7). This is the relational and lived side of identity, based in ‘what people do in their daily life, their relationships with each other and the environment in which they live’, a set of ‘elemental interactions and associations’ (Harris 2000, 7). I will argue at the end of this book that these daily routines were a source not only of considerable diversity in any one horizon but also a major factor in the slow rate of fundamental long-term change. Their importance, though till now relatively little considered in the interpretation of prehistory, can hardly be overstated. But are they enough on their own? From another perspective, daily life can be seen as only one of the signiﬁcant dimensions of life to be considered. Reﬂecting on the Foi of Papua New Guinea, James Weiner has noted that there is always the possibility of contradiction or paradox between the meanings of recurrent practices, though it may be dangerous for these oppositions to be visible in everyday social process. Foi men must mask the fact that women are conceptually dangerous to them, in order to engage in normal sexual activity (J.F. Weiner 1988, 16). Weiner has also underlined how ‘the many images of Foi domestic, social and ceremonial activities depicted in myth are no less accurate a rendering of Foi ‘everyday life’ than an observer’s verbal narration of daily activity’ (J.F. Weiner 1988, 16).