Sambia A Evaluative Critique Essay

1635 words - 7 pages

Najmul KhanGilbert Herdt BookDr. Rubenstein2/5/11The Sambia: An evaluative critique.Gilbert Herdt's emphatic insight and recollection of The Sambia tribe is brilliantly captured in and articulated in his book. The Sambia reside in the fringe regions of Papua New Guinea. The book explores the roles and complexities of gender, erotic desire and sexuality of the members of the tribe. Gender identity and development, especially among the males is crucial.The Book: What it is about and what I learned.The Book articulates on several different aspects of The Sambia entailing their geographic surroundings, their elaborate culture, rituals, the making of the individual, the secret society of the men, the initiation of young boys, the inequalities of gender and power distribution, and the revolutionary change that was inculcated in the tribe, post colonial times.The book had an extensive chapter describing the Geographical and social structure of the tribe. The geographical setting of the Tribe is such that they are situated in the Southeastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea, dispersed over a vast expanse rain forest. They live in minute, well defended mountain clan hamlets. The book gives detailed accounts for many different individuals in chapter three titled Sambia Social Individuals; I thought this was fascinating to read because I gained perspective on the lives and responsibilities of different people in the tribe.The Book is a thorough cultural and psychological analysis of gender identity and sexual development vividly describing the tribe's practices which comprises of initiation rites and socialization.The author does a great job illustrating the geographical realities of the tribe. It gives the reader an acute sense of how life is in these conditions and it also goes to show that the geographical setting of the tribe contributes to the Sambian lifestyle. The tribe is situated in the Krateke Mountains along the Lamari river. The first chapter also explores the social structure of the tribe. Independence and autonomy from the parents is emphasized upon the children. Particularly upon the males, more so than the females. Marriage in the sambia tribe is usually by sister exchange or infant betrothal. The sister exchange method, prearranged marriage, is more preferred.The Sambian culture is dominated by the aspect of gender. Gender roles and development is of paramount importance to the tribe. The gender roles and identity of males is central to the tribe's essence. Girls are usually reared by both parents until they get married. The young males are transferred to the men's clubhouse at around the age of seven to ten years of age depending upon their first initiation. The young males are exposed to one world first, that of their mothers and than they are exposed to the world of the men where they receive a new and secret identity.Males are subjected to ritualized homosexuality up until the age they are married. These acts of homosexuality committed...

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