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Tobacco, Good and Bad: Prosaics of Marijuana in a Sepik Society

David Lipset
Oceania
Vol. 76, No. 3, Marijuana in Papua New Guinea (Nov., 2006), pp. 245-257
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40332034
Page Count: 13
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Tobacco, Good and Bad: Prosaics of Marijuana in a Sepik Society
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Abstract

In the Murik Lakes at the mouth of the Sepik River, young men debated middle-aged and senior men about the moral value of marijuana, and the moral status of their community as a whole, as they did. In part, their discourse had been absorbed into perduring, but shifting, genres that preceded the arrival of the drug. On the one hand, it had been assimilated into precapitalist views of trade and several dimensions of conflict discourse. On the other, it had given rise to a combined, partly market-based, partly kinship-based view of intertribal trade, as well as to a secular predilection for the drug's perceived effects. Marijuana talk, according to Lipset, comprised an important forum in which Murik men engaged one another, not conclusively, but open-endedly, in uneasy, nervous dialogue about the increasingly limited efficacy of male agency in postcolonial PNG.

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