The semiotics of world-making in Korowai feast longhouses

Rupert Stasch

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    Among spatially-dispersed Korowai speakers of West Papua, Indonesia, the members of a land-owning clan aggregate every 10 years or so to build a huge longhouse for purposes of sponsoring a feast and giving food to people from elsewhere. This paper analyzes the semiotic links between a feast longhouse and multiple spatiotemporal layers of the building's context of occurrence, including: the space and time of the owning clan's internal social relations, the space of the wider interlocal Korowai landscape, long-term biological cycles of resource expenditure and regeneration, and short-term cycles of food production. I argue that links of causation are integral to the total semiotic character of the feast building, and that the overall skein of dense semiotic links between building and sociocultural world embodies a reflexive historical sensibility on the part of Korowai speakers about the contingency of cause-effect sequences in their practices of life.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)359-383
    JournalLanguage and Communication
    Volume23
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2003

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