Re: Pairs

Douglass Drozdow-St.Christian (stchri@MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA)
Wed, 24 May 1995 07:57:08 -0400

and yet, there are trade offs....

during my fieldwork in western samoa, the fact is was not en-spoused or
en-partnered was more of an advantage than otherwise....granted that some
areas of everyday life were off limits to me, and the presence of a
female partner would have been useful, this was more the exception than
the rule...

as a somewhat seedy middle aged single man, i was able to cross lines,
and engage intimately with groups - post-reproductive women, men of all
sorts for young men in the courtship prowl to old married guys who felt
sorry for my singular status - which would have been closed to me

it is sometimes,and in some places, valuable and insight generating, to
belong to an anomalous group [ and for most of the samoans i knew, my
being a single middlge aged man was simply weird and in need of
explanation, which gave me yet another point of connection in my efforts
to come to grips with their common sense]....

while malinowski's generalizing pen may well have been supperannuated by
weiner's work, pairing in the field can also hinder and obscure...that
my older female consultants and friends spent a great deal fo time trying
to find me a wife gave me an appreciatioon of the nature and importance
of family and relationships which would have been less developed and
complete had i inserted a ready made family of my own into the mix...


douglass st.christian, phd.
anthropology - mcmaster u.
hamilton - canada
416 234 9978