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Kanengamah and Pohnpei's Politics of Concealment

Authors

  • Glenn Petersen

    1. Graduate Center and Baruch College, City University of New York
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      GLENN PETERSEN is Professor, Department of Anthropology, Graduate Center and Baruch College, City University of New York, NY 10010.


Abstract

Kanengamah is an abstract quality and a manner of behaving fundamental to social life on Pohnpei, in Micronesia's Eastern Caroline Islands. It entails the habit of concealment; most social interactions are conditioned by the expectation that all parties are engaged in dissembling. Kanengamah enables Pohnpeians simultaneously to exalt their leaders and to remain remarkably free from their authority. As a consequence, “hierarchical” and “egalitarian” social forms are interdependent rather than mutually exclusive categories.

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