“The painstaking detail of the ethnography – here evident in minute accounts of trees and their uses – has long been a hallmark of Damon’s work… All this makes the book less than an easy read… although its detail and rigour will make it a treasure trove for ecological anthropologists, regional specialists, and students of Indo-Pacific sailing technology.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)
“…a totally original, fascinating, and valuable book.” • Human Ecology
“A masterpiece of engineering is notoriously difficult to write about, even more so when conceived and built by ‘visual and tactile people’. The author has succeeded well in giving the reader insight into the emic perspective of Muyuw canoes in all their social and ecological complexity. Herein lies the originality of this innovative and important work.” • Anthropos
“This book is a major contribution to the regional, ecological, and material culture literature.” • Pacific Affairs
“A rare and formidable work. This is a wholly distinctive contribution to multi-species ethnography, of environments made as people tie living materials to one another. It is also a wholly original account of the research process: had Damon not recorded the patchiness of knowledge – locally, regionally -- he would not have understood how people draw things together and keep them moving at the same time. String figures, he was told, untie the mind and keep it supple -- so does this energizing book.” • Marilyn Strathern, University of Cambridge
“This is a hugely important book. It’s publication marks a milestone in anthropological theory – a must read in any course concerned with material culture, science and technology, and human ecology, and a treasure for those interested in maritime cultures.” • Susanne Kuechler, University College London
“This research is a bold undertaking in its intention and in its attention to detail… this book leaves no stone unturned, no leaf unexamined, no canoe fixture unquestioned.” • Shirley Campbell, Australian National University
Trees, Knots and Outriggers (Kaynen Muyuw) is the culmination of twenty-five years of work by Frederick H. Damon and his attention to cultural adaptations to the environment in Melanesia. Damon details the intricacies of indigenous knowledge and practice in his sweeping synthesis of symbolic and structuralist anthropology with recent developments in historical ecology. This book is a long conversation between the author’s many Papua New Guinea informants, teachers and friends, and scientists in Australia, Europe and the United States, in which a spirit of adventure and discovery is palpable.
Frederick H. Damon is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Virginia.
This book is accompanied by a large online repository of images.
LC: GN671.N5 D36 2016
BISAC: SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural; SCI026000 SCIENCE/Environmental Science
BIC: JHMC Social & cultural anthropology, ethnography; RN The environment