The societies of Melanesia have been a constant stimulus to
anthropological theory. In this collection of essays,
anthropologists who have worked in all parts of the Melanesian
region of the Pacific bring their expertise to bear on a single
theoretical issue. This is a hypothesis formulated by Maurice
Godelier concerning the relationship between power, kinship and
wealth. Although tightly focused on Godelier's work, the book opens
up a major enquiry into the constitution of society in a part of
the world where men of prominence come to personify the nature of
power. 'Big men', entrepreneurs of exchanges, and 'great men', who
flourish in societies characterised by restricted exchanges and
ritual complexity, appear to belong to quite different systems.
This book considers how substantial the difference between them
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