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Keywords:

  • ontogeny;
  • intersubjectivity;
  • eating;
  • kinship;
  • child

In this article, I compare drawings of “Sunday lunch” produced by Fijian village children in 1990 and 2005 and their responses to prepared drawings in 1982, which show remarkable continuity over time. I suggest this continuity is largely attributable to the ritualization of eating practices. At the same time, the children's data indicate that a substantive, if subtle, change is occurring in ideas of the inclusiveness of the household; I suggest that this change may be a function of an intensification of commodity exchange in day-to-day village life. As the children's data demonstrate, continuity as well as transformation in ideas over time may be understood as a function of the self-same ontogenetic process through which we make sense of our relations with others in the lived world. I argue that such ethnographic studies of ontogeny enable us both to appreciate the material validity of our informants' ideas and to render them analytical.