The University of Wisconsin Press

Anthropology / Asian Studies / Religion


To Remember the Faces of the Dead
The Plenitude of Memory in Southwestern New Britain
Thomas Maschio

New Directions in Anthropological Writing
George F. Marcus and James Clifford, Series Editors

"Maschio uses the concepts and language of the Rauto people themselves to 'unpack' what might otherwise be considered a human anomaly–a minimalist culture, a people who live a rich emotional life but share the most stringent reservations against its figurative expression." —Roy Wagner, University of Virginia

As he challenges classical semiological accounts of cultural representation in this ethnography of Melanesian religious phenomenology, Thomas Maschio shows that ritual and poetic performance are about the enactment, expression, and invention of the self.

Maschio demonstrates how such emotions as nostalgia, anger, sadness, and grief are creatively transformed during the course of religious performance and expression into a form of cultural memory—one that juxtaposes a pattern of cultural meaning with the emotional feeling of plenitude the Melanesian Rauto call makai. Evoked during initiation, mourning, and agricultural rites, and figuring prominently in Rauto discourse about the self, makai joins personal memory to patterned sets of images and meanings that Westerners would call culture.

"A first-rate ethnography of a little-studied area. Maschio reaches back to the ethnographic writings of French Melanesianist Maurice Leenhardt to ground his account of the emotive/expressive self in religious phenomenology. This complex reading of ritual and expressive culture connects with a growing number of contemporary ethnographies that put poetic utterances at the center of cultural articulations of self and society."—James Clifford, series editor

Thomas Maschio received his Ph.D. in anthropology from McMaster University and his M.A. from New York University. He has taught at the American Museum of Natural History and New York University.

Media & bookseller inquiries regarding review copies, events, and interviews can be directed to the publicity department at or (608) 263-0734. (If you want to examine a book for possible course use, please see our Course Books page. If you want to examine a book for possible rights licensing, please see Rights & Permissions.)

April 1994
LC: 93-032388 DU
272 pp. 6 x 9
11 halftones, 6 line illus., 2 maps

Book icon
Paper $23.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-14094-6
Shopping cart ADD TO CART
  Review cart contents
Secure checkout

The cloth edition ISBN 978-0-299-14090-3 is out of print.

Home | Books | Journals | Events | Textbooks | Authors | Related | Search | Order | Contact

If you have trouble accessing any page in this web site, contact our Web manager.

Updated February 28, 2013

© 2013 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System