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Abstract

This article addresses relationships between personal experience and cross-cultural understanding of maternal love. I analyze claims of mutual maternal understanding by women on Simbo, Western Solomon Islands, highlighting the contexts in which they expressed love in compassionate terms and the interplay of fieldwork intersubjectivity. Although assumptions of a priori emotional comprehension grounded in apparently similar experiences are problematic, it is possible to develop degrees of mutual emotional knowledge through the exchanges of participant-observation. The concept of “emotional communities” serves as a fruitful way of conceptualizing both the diverse contexts in which people express aspects of taru (love) and the emotional engagement of cross-cultural fieldwork. [emotion, motherhood, Solomon Islands, intersubjectivity, emotional communities, fieldwork]