Abstract: The basic premise of this paper is that oppressive and violent behaviour is not an essential aspect of the male identity. Seeking to comprehend the underlying causes of violence, specifically against women but also more generally, this paper examines some of the alternative ways of being a man that have accompanied Christianity. Through observation of some Pentecostals from New Ireland, I have concluded that new ways of being a man that are less oppressive and dominating for women are emerging. This phenomenon I argue is a step towards gender equality, since it involves creating more caring and equitable relationships and a step towards reducing violence both against women and in the community, since it embraces non-violent ways of being a man. Particularly useful in analysing the process of reforming men is Foucault’s work on governmentality since it relates well to the Pentecostal emphasis on radical change in being ‘born again’. Conversion for born-again Christians is more than simply abandoning sin; rather it involves the creation of a new self and becoming a new person. Similarly, Foucault argues that the individual practises the art of self-governance in re-forming her or himself as she or he desires.
Abstract: The recognition that HIV prevention materials need to be adapted to local cultures is not often sufficiently understood and applied. Counter discourses and determined disputation about the best means of HIV prevention show that success is not simply a matter of mindfully translating globally sanctioned knowledge and presenting it to receptive audiences. Beliefs contrary to global AIDS knowledges will not be displaced inevitably by scientific facts. As this study of born-again Christians in Papua New Guinea shows, there is incommensurability between the globalized approach preferred by the government and the approach of these Christians. The answer may lie in two words: respect and dialogue.
ABSTRACT: Among the Lelet of central New Ireland (Papua New Guinea), a dramatic increase in Pentecostalist fervor has produced significant changes in dreaming. Traditionally, the Lelet have valued dreaming as a means of access to knowledge and power. Now it is seen as a gift bestowed by the Holy Spirit, giving access to new and different forms of knowledge and power. Pentecostalism lays down many rules of conduct for the avoidance of sin, and dreams now play a role in policing them. Drawing on Michel Foucault’s work on governmentality, I find that Lelet dreaming acts as a form of self-scrutiny, reminding dreamers of the need to rectify their failures to follow Pentecostal precepts. Beyond this, dreams enable people to address the dilemmas that emerge when they embrace frameworks that impose radically different ways of being in the world than their previous religion did.
Abstract: The intensifying global spread of apocalyptic forms of Christianity, now well established in Papua New Guinea, has popularised readings of the Bible that stress a cataclysmic end of the world from which only the faithful will be saved. This paper examines the way that this apocalyptic discourse is being embraced by the Lelet of central New Ireland, taking the case of an earthquake that occurred during the year 2000. Apocalypticism is increasingly the operative explanatory framework for unusual events that are seen as signs. However, recourse to it varies between individuals. Signs are very carefully examined and various theories, new and old, are considered before an explanation is finally accepted. I argue that the acceptance of new beliefs does not always depend on the existence of prior similar beliefs, and neither are older beliefs simply displaced by the new.
A part of the special issue: Negotiating the Horizon-Living Christianity in Melanesia