Borut Telban, Mosko, Mark S.: Ways of Baloma. Rethinking Magic and Kinship from the Trobriands. Chicago: HAU Books, 2017. 473 pp. ISBN 978-​0-​9973675-​6-​0. Price: $ 40.00 in:

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Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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der Verlag und der Herausgeber die Frage stellen, ob es sinnvoll erscheint, in einem solchen “Companion”, das deutlich über 100 € kostet, mehrere Beiträge zu zentra‐ len Themen abzudrucken, deren Nutzwert deutlich unter jenem entsprechender Wikipedia-Artikel liegt. Harald Grauer ( Mosko, Mark S.: Ways of Baloma. Rethinking Ma‐ gic and Kinship from the Trobriands. Chicago: HAU Books, 2017. 473 pp. ISBN 978-0-9973675-6-0. Price: $ 40.00 In this impressive volume, Mark Mosko provides an in-depth critique of Malinowski’s perception and articu‐ lation of life in Northern Kiriwina, Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea. For Malinowski, the spirits of the dead moved to Tuma, the invisible world of spirits, and stayed there. They returned to Boyowa, the visible, ma‐ terial world of the living people, only for the procre‐ ation of a new child. For Malinowski and his successors working in Trobriand Islands, spirits of the dead were more or less uninvolved in the doings of their human descendants, while magic penetrated every aspect of their lives. Mosko, however, presents the opposite view and argues that the spirits of the dead, as well as other spirits identified under the generic term bilubaloma, are present in everything the Trobrianders do and most prominently in magic. He writes: “[T]he effectiveness of Trobriand magic is a matter of kinship: that is, of an‐ cestral spirit linkage” (7). Mosko is, besides his own detailed ethnography and analysis, encouraged to make such a claim by Viveiros de Castro who in the article “The Gift and the Given” wonders about a deeper con‐ nection between magic and kinship than it has usually been acknowledged in contemporary anthropological theory. The latter, who also wrote the “Foreword” to Mark Mosko’s book, goes on to say that magic and kin‐ ship might be interrelated in terms of “mysterious ef‐ fectiveness of relationality” (5) realised through a medi‐ atory concept of a gift. This is not a book about concrete daily life of con‐ temporary Trobrianders, be them Christian or not, but rather a book about concept-cum-praxis principles of their cosmogony and cosmology not easily articulated by everyone. These principles became revealed mainly through endless discussions with the Trobriand Para‐ mount Chief Tabalu Pulayasi Daniel as well as remark‐ able elders Molubabeba Daniel, Pakalaki Tokulupai, and Yogaru Vincent, all acknowledged as collaborators on the title page in the book. This tight cooperation with Omarakana chiefs and elders has led Mosko to expand the notion of the New Melanesian Ethnography (NME), of which he was the principal proponent, to the New‐ born Melanesian Ethnography (NBME) in which a di‐ vine individual takes the leading role. The main argu‐ ment of the book is that baloma, the spirits of the dead or ancestral kin, coexist with the living people (whose baloma is their “soul” or personal spirit that will once become baloma, the spirit of the dead) as agents every‐ where and in everything. Life coexists with death, so kinship is animistic and animism is in a close proximity with kinship. If these observations were written about the non-Austronesian peoples living around the mighty Sepik River, for example, it would be a common sense. Even powerful Catholic Charismatic and other Christian movements could not abolish the spirits of the dead and other spirits. However, not so for the Trobrianders as they were portrayed by Bronisław Malinowski. Mosko therefore engages with and revises Malinowski’s and other Trobriand scholars’ ethnographies framing his ar‐ guments within the theoretical framework of Marilyn Strathern’s “partiability” of Melanesian person and Lévy-Bruhl’s “participation.” Persons are magically endowed. Mosko argues that it is not efficacy of magical spells or magical efficacy of words, as Malinowski claimed, but efficacy of spirit be‐ ings evoked in them. The power of spells is the power of spirit beings. “[L]iving people are their ancestors em‐ bodied. Thus when humans act magically, their incor‐ porated spirit predecessors as kin are invisibly but ef‐ fectively acting also” (57). Masculine capacity of gener‐ ating magical spells are on the same level as feminine capacity of giving birth (chap. 4). Land and spells are shared by dala members. Dala, usually translated as matrilineage (challenged and cor‐ rected by Mosko), includes and expands to a variety of cosmological and cosmogonic beings and entities, in‐ cluding specific animals and plants in a kind of totemic relationship. Its living members share images and powers of human and nonhuman inhabitants or “per‐ sons” of both the material and visible world (Boyowa) and immaterial invisible spirit world (Tuma). Thus, spiritual images and powers of a newborn child origin‐ ate in Tuma and although this spirit child is of the same dala as their mother, they are of masculine, paternal ori‐ gin. Complementing maternal blood, they constitute child’s thoughts and reasoning. Fathers give both land and spells to their favoured sons (and sometimes daughters), who belong to another mater‐ nal dala. At the same time these sons are grouped under the term litulela (man’s children) belonging also to the dala of their fathers and their fathers’ maternal relatives. One could say that men give their parts – both material and immaterial – when they father a child regardless of the dala to which his children belong. Only later when the father dies, his male dala relatives pay his son to get back their own dala spells and land from him. While Malinowski confounded ceremonial payments and sacrificial offerings under the single term ula’ula, Mosko emphasises the importance of seeing them as two separate activities: ula’ula offerings or payments to magical specialists and bwekasa sacrificial exchanges. The latter become the main theme of his fifth chapter. The purpose of displaying food at different stages is of‐ fering food to bilubaloma spirits who extract shadows of the food and leave their saliva – “blessings” or “gifts of love” – on it as a kind of reciprocal sharing of lifegiving parts between Boyowa and Tuma. Spirits con‐ 252 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020 sume what is dirty and dead and leave what is clean and alive for the living. Moreover, they do this through sev‐ eral phases (sacrifices) of food exhibition, from the raw foods heaped in the gardens to the cooked food exhib‐ ited on a platform. Spirits are also offered kula shells, stone axe blades, and pigs’ tusks from which they ex‐ tract the valuable invisible image-parts (shadows) and leave their own life-giving properties (image-parts, shadows). There are also bwekasa exchanges of thoughts: in awaken state (when a person lives a proper life) and in spells. These bwekasa sacrificial exchanges secure success in megwa magic, which itself is bwekasa. Ritual transitions are inseparable from all of them, spatially between Boyowa and Tuma (and vice versa) and temporally between life and death (and vice versa), which through reproduction and reincarnation (each of them being a form of bwekasa exchange as well) are products and producers of their cosmos. Mosko presents a novel understanding of Trobriand kinship and magic quite different from the predecessors who worked in the region including Malinowski. First, there is a dual chieftainship at Omarakana, where highranking dalas form a special marital alliance ideally based on reciprocal bilateral cross-cousin marriages. What we get is exogamous duality similar to sacred Tuma versus profane Boyowa securing magical and marital re‐ ciprocities. At the same time, there is oneness pointing to‐ wards quasi-endogamy or quasi-incestuous relationship. In such a situation, Tuma and Buyowa, the dead and the living, are joined together so that the ways of baloma spir‐ its are the ways of living people, and vice versa. In this ethnographically and analytically rich and complex work, Mosko shows the composite character of both persons and spirits, of shadows, images and powers, and their timeless interrelationship through kin‐ ship. A short review cannot do justice to this magnifi‐ cent volume. True, the first sixty pages of the “Introduc‐ tion,” where Mosko contextualises his methodological approach and fieldwork circumstances, could be shortened, and some issues of his ten annual fieldtrips between 2006 and 2016 – the use of English and chiefly perspective, for instance – questioned and criticised. However, Mosko’s aim to dig meticulously into cos‐ mogonic and cosmological foundations of conceptualcum-practical existence of Trobrianders required com‐ plex in-depth discussions with those who are guardians of such a knowledge and capable of reflection. Togeth‐ er, I would say, they fully succeeded. Borut Telban ( Ngawa Mbaho, Carline Liliane: La vente de pro‐ duits de santé dans les cars interurbains au Cameroun. Une analyse interactionnelle. Berlin: LIT, 2018. 287 pp. ISBN 978-3-643-34163-7. (Beiträge zur Afrikafor‐ schung, 92) Prix: € 39,90 L’ouvrage “La vente de produits de santé dans les cars interurbains au Cameroun. Une analyse interaction‐ nelle”, de Carline Liliane Ngawa Mbaho est le fruit d’un important travail de terrain réalisé au Cameroun. L’objet de ces travaux de recherche menés dans le cadre d’une thèse de doctorat porte sur la communication pen‐ dant la vente de produits de santé au Cameroun dans les véhicules de transport interurbain. Ngawa note que l’un des défis majeurs du système de santé au Cameroun est la cohabitation entre la médecine moderne et la méde‐ cine dite traditionnelle, qui de plus en plus gagne du ter‐ rain dans les pratiques de santé des populations. Les ré‐ sultats sont condensés en onze points dont nous faisons ici l’économie. Ngawa investigue l’un des espaces qui semblent conquis par la médecine traditionnelle dans sa stratégie de pénétration du marché de la santé: la vente des pro‐ duits de santé dans les cars de transport interurbain, qui, rappelons-le, n’ont pas cette vocation. Les cars interur‐ bains à priori et par essence sont destinés au transport des biens et des marchandises et au regard du contrôle étatique sur le marché pharmaceutique, ils ne sont donc pas des espaces de commercialisation des produits de santé. La problématique de Ngawa sur les interactions marchandes notamment dans le cas des commerces iti‐ nérants de produits de santé dans les cars interurbains porte d’une part sur les mécanismes et schèmes d’action des interactions marchandes et d’autres part sur les moyens déployés dans la réalisation efficiente et effi‐ cace dudit commerce itinérant dans les cars interur‐ bains, au vu et su de tous d’une activité illégale. L’ouvrage, en 281 pages et onze points, analyse donc les échanges marchands autour de la commercialisation des produits de santé dans les cars interurbains à partir d’un matériau de terrain collecté entre 2011 et 2015 et dont le corpus est constitué de 23 enquêtés, soit 3 femmes (les femmes semblent peu impliquées dans le commerce itinérant des produits de santé) et 20 hommes. Le contexte socio-linguistique au Cameroun que pré‐ sente l’auteure montre que la médecine traditionnelle ap‐ paraît comme le parent pauvre d’un système de santé en pleines transformations et confronté à de nombreuses in‐ suffisances, notamment déficit d’équipements, absence de protocole de soins, image dégradée des soignants. Face à une médecine conventionnelle systématisée à travers des formations professionnelles et un encadrement juri‐ dique et professionnel de l’activité, la médecine tradition‐ nelle tente de se frayer un chemin en marge de toute régle‐ mentation. Pour juguler aux lacunes et envisager un mini‐ mum de contrôle de l’exercice par auto-proclamation de la médecine traditionnelle, Ngawa constate le lancement par l’État d’une procédure d’identification des “profession‐ nels du secteur de la médecine traditionnelle”. À plusieurs niveaux, le système de santé est égale‐ ment marqué par une écologie linguistique qui va parti‐ ciper à saisir les stratégies communicationnelles dé‐ ployées lors des interactions marchandes dans la vente itinérante des produits de santé au Cameroun. En effet, la pluralité linguistique est l’une des caractéristiques du Cameroun où l’on observe deux langues officielles (l’anglais et le français) qui côtoient une multitude de langues nationales. Book Reviews 253 Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.