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Islands of Love, Islands of Risk : Culture and HIV in the Trobriands



Pub. Date:
Vanderbilt Univ Pr

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What version or edition is this?
This is the edition with a publication date of 12/15/2012.
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  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any CDs, lab manuals, study guides, etc.


The Trobriand Islands of Papua New Guinea have been depicted as a place of sexual freedom ever since these small atolls in the southwest Pacific were made famous by anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski in the early twentieth century. Today in the era of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, how do Trobrianders respond to public health interventions that link their cultural practices to the risk of HIV? How do they weigh HIV prevention messages of abstinence, fidelity, and condom use against traditional sexual practices that strengthen interclan relationships in a gift economy? Written by an anthropologist who has direct ties to the Trobriands through marriage and who has been involved in Papua New Guinea's national response to the HIV epidemic since the mid-1990s, Islands of Love, Islands of Riskis an unusual insider ethnography. Katherine Lepani describes in vivid detail the cultural practices of regeneration, from the traditional dance called Wosimwayato the elaborate exchanges that are part of the mortuary feasts called sagali. Focusing on the sexual freedom of young people, the author reveals the social value of sexual practice. By bringing cultural context and lived experience to the fore, the book addresses the failure of standardized public health programs to bridge the persistent gap between HIV awareness and prevention. The book offers insights on the interplay between global and local understandings of gender, sexuality, and disease and suggests the possibility of viewing sexuality in terms other than risk. Islands of Love, Islands of Riskillustrates the contribution of ethnographic research methodology in facilitating dialogue between different ways of knowing. As a contemporary perspective on Malinowski's classic accounts of Trobriand sexuality, the book reaffirms the Trobriands' central place in the study of anthropology. This book is the recipient of the annual Norman L. and Roselea J. Goldberg Prize for the best project in the area of medicine.

Author Biography

Katherine Lepan is Senior Research Associate in the School of Culture, History, and Language at the Australian National University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Author's Notesp. xiii
Prologuep. 1
Models of Meaning and Ways of Knowingp. 15
"In the Process of Knowing"p. 31
Connections to Placep. 42
"Because We Can!": Gendered Agency and Social Reproductionp. 65
Youth Sexuality: Making Desires Knownp. 101
Converging Meaningsp. 135
Fitting Condoms on Culturep. 156
Epiloguep. 177
Glossaryp. 185
Notesp. 191
Bibliographyp. 207
Indexp. 233
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