Title

Multiple Models of Space and Movement on Taumako, a Polynesian Island in the Southeastern Solomons

Publication Title

Ethos

Publication Date

9-2014

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1111/etho.12055

Keywords

cognition, space, radiality, multiple models, Polynesia, Taumako

Disciplines

Anthropology

Abstract

People of Taumako, a Polynesian community in the Solomon Islands, employ a variety of spatial models, some binary and linear, others concentric or radial. The existence of multiple models means that individuals, as they confront the challenges of daily life, must choose among alternatives and draw upon whichever ones appear most helpful at the moment. But utility depends on judgment, memory, and the selective focus of attention. Consequently, spatial understandings differ from person to person and, sometimes, in the same person from one occasion to another, highlighting the complex expression of spatial cultures in everyday contexts. As is true elsewhere, social and spatial cognition, to a degree, are intertwined. Perhaps owing to a relatively egalitarian political and social structure, however, the connection between spatial symbolism and social structure on Taumako seems attenuated. Moreover, “radiality” assumes a multiplicity of shapes and does not represent social hierarchy among the Taumako, as it does in such hierarchically ordered societies as Samoa.


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