The mediation of emotions: On aspects of dispute settlement and violence in Hagen

Marilyn Strathern


This account dates from 1985, originally a companion piece to “Discovering ‘social control’” (1985), but not published in this form then. The ethnographic milieu is Hagen, in Papua New Guinea, under the colonial regime of the 1960s and 70s, and the Australian version of an “imposition of law.” In an attempt to get out from under then current presuppositions over the nature of law in relation to constructs of society, it embarks on describing the two modes of Hagen sociality that were to figure in The gender of the gift (1988). Two circuits in the circulation and reception of emotions channel the way in which people deal with conflict; while they are irreducibly distinct, they are asymmetrical in their influence on general social life, such that affairs conducted through one circuit may damage those of the other. One consequence is quite a blunt description of certain aspects of power relations.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/714084