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Near to the heart of the human predicament are impulses to avenge - what most of us will recognize to be negative, counterproductive reactions against others who pose a threat. By contrast, nothing re-establishes our faith in humanity more than extraordinary acts of concession, such as peace-making, generosity and sacrifice. In this study Garry Trompf shows how various aspects of 'payback', both negative and positive, provide the best indices to an understanding of Melanesian views of life. The book explores the reasons why people 'pay back' and opens up a whole dimension in the cross-cultural study of human consciousness. The author conducts his readers through the most complex anthropological pageant on earth, illustrating his arguments from western New Guinea to Fiji.
Cambridge University Press
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