What makes a man? Rereading Naven and The Gender of the Gift

In this essay, I argue that the concept of masculinity that was first developed in Bateson's Naven, his 1936 monograph about ritual and society among the Iatmul, a New Guinea people, was an originary moment for the constructivist position that has come to hold sway, not only over masculinity studies in Melanesia in specific, but over masculinity studies in general. My thesis, however, advances a more definite claim: Bateson's prescient view of gender did not come to theoretical maturity in masculinity studies, either areally, or more broadly defined, for another 50 years, when it was given new articulation by Marilyn Strathern in The Gender of the Gift (1988).

Gregory Bateson; Constructivism; Feminism; Gender; Masculinity; Melanesia; Marilyn Strathern


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