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Aspects of Rotuman Culture

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Additional Publications by Jan Rensel

 


Land, Activity Systems & Decision-Making in Rotuma (1963) Download PDF
An analysis of land tenure on Rotuma based on the principles of decision-making in relation to the circumstances in which land tenure is at issue.

Pre-marital Sex and Social Control among Rotumans (1964) Download PDF
T his paper has a dual purpose; first, to describe the nature of social controls governing female sexual behavior prior to marriage among the Rotumans, and second, to illustrate the use to which demographic data can be put in testing hypotheses formulated from ethnographic evidence.

Cultural Values and Attitudes to Death (1965) Download PDF
A  contrast between Rotuman and Western attitudes toward death, with an explanation for the reasons why Rotumans fear death less.

Adoption on Rotuma (1970) Download PDF
An analysis of adoption practices on Rotuma from the standpoint of the decisions people make regarding the allocation of children considering the conditions under which children are transferred to foster homes and to whom they are sent.

Education & Rotuman Character (1971) Download PDF
In this article I consider the relationships between the style of life on the island, the educational practices that nurture it, and the psychological character of the people, which are all based on the basic premise that social life should be harmonious and free of conflict.

Dominant Kinship Relations in Fiji & Rotuma (1971) Download PDF
The purpose of this paper is to explore the implications of "dominant kinship relations" as defined by Professor Hsu, in Fiji and Rotuma, contrasting the implications of the dominance of father-son relations in Fiji with the emphasis on siblingship in Rotuma.

Cannibal Chiefs and the Charter for Rebellion (1986) Download PDF
An analysis of Rotuma myths suggests that chiefs are in an ambiguous position since their role requires a combination of vitality, expressed in the form of demands upon their subjects, and domestication, expressed through generosity. It is argued that the myths explore various permutations of the dilemma of chieftainship and provide a charter for rebellion against chiefs whose demands are perceived as excessive.

On Rotuma It's Up to You (1988/89) Download PDF
A  consideration of the implications of Rotuman concerns for social harmony, interpersonal sensitivity ,and a willingness to forgive, has for individual autonomy.

Dispute Management in Rotuma (1990) Download PDF
This essay concerns the genesis and management of disputes on Rotuma.  Although disputes are endemic to the culture, they rarely lead physical violence. The analysis aims to illuminate the mechanisms that keep disputes from escalating to violent confrontations

Animals as Metaphors in Rotuman Sayings (1991) Download PDF
In this paper we explore the roles animals play in Rotuman sayings, and the ways in which they reflect Rotuman cultural values and attitudes. We then compare Rotuman sayings with collections from Samoa and Hawaii, with the aim of exploring the possibilities for developing a comparative framework

Interpreting a Wedding in Rotuma (1994) Download PDF
In this article we narrate an account of a weddingon Rotuma in which we participated. We then interpret key features of the wedding, showing how they express, symbolically and in other ways, core Rotuman values.

Music of Rotuma (1998) Download PDF
A description of the forms of Rotuman music in performative contexts, including indigenous songs, recitations, and various dance genres, including a consideration of the effects of exposure to foreign influences.

Rotuman Culture as Reflected in Sayings (1998) Download PDF
In this essay, a supplement to a book of Rotuman sayings compiled by Elsapeti Inia, we review the nature of Rotuman sayings, including the kinds of cultural materials out of which they are constructed; the values, attitudes, and beliefs they reflect; and the ways they help to create and reinforce the Rotuman cultural experience.

Une Profondeur qui S'arrête à la Surface de la Peau: Ordre Social et Corps à Rotuma [French edition] (1998) Download PDF
The argument we make in this paper is threefold: (1) Download PDF that Rotumans pay more attention to bodily surfaces than to internal bodily functions; (2) Download PDF that this emphasis on bodily surfaces articulates well with a strong concern for appearances of social harmony; and (3) Download PDF that a muted cultural focus on internal bodily functions is congruent with a strong current of autonomy in Rotuman culture.

Only Skin Deep: Social Order and the Body on Rotuma [Unpublsihed English version] (1998)
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The argument we make in this paper is threefold: (1) Download PDF that Rotumans pay more attention to bodily surfaces than to internal bodily functions; (2) Download PDF that this emphasis on bodily surfaces articulates well with a strong concern for appearances of social harmony; and (3) Download PDF that a muted cultural focus on internal bodily functions is congruent with a strong current of autonomy in Rotuman culture.

Restraint and Ritual Apology: The Rotumans of the South Pacific (2004) Download PDF
A discussion of four components employed by Rotumans to maintain peaceful relations: patterns of socialization, social provisions for mediation, culturally sanctioned beliefs that promise immanent justice for wrongdoing, and the role of ritual apology.

The Culture of Graves on Rotuma (2016) Download PDF
In this article we explore the way social and cultural changes have affected how Rotuman graves are produced and maintained, and the ways in which they, in turn, reflect changes that have taken place in
Rotuman society.

The Tactics of Faksoro: Rotuman Apology in Historical Perspective (Unpublished Paper)
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In this paper we explore the custom of faksoro (apology) Download PDF and the ways it has responded to demographic, political, economic, social and cultural changes in the extended Rotuman community. Specifically, we aim at documenting the shift from a socially consensual, highly ritualized implementation of faksoro to a more individualized, tactical use of the custom. For purposes of analysis we examine faksoro as one type of symbolic exchange.

The Arts of Rotuma (Unpublished Paper) Download PDF
A  description of Rotuman art forms at the time of European intrusion, including tatooing, the making of shell ornaments, bark cloth and fine mat manufacture, oratory, clowning, and singing and dancing. By the end of the 19th century some of these aspects of expressive culture had completely disappeared, while others were drastically altered.

Hereniko-Howard Rotuman Arts (Upublished Paper) Download PDF
An alternate account of Rotuman art forms with more contextual historical information as background.