At its heart, the human obsession with metaphysical questions such as “Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?” funds anthropology departments at universities. The hope is that the tools of modern science and technology will provide more satisfying answers to these questions than have come from the study of religion and theology. Kerry Howe’s title to one recent book about anthropology in the Pacific points to humanity’s search for meaning through origins. He named it simply The Quest for Origins, but in many respects, contemporary Pacific anthropology does disservice to the scientific quest and the gnawing obsession that motivates it. For example, it focuses to the seeming extinction of all else, on the question “Who came first?” The contemporary anthropologist’s vocational need for academic credibility stifles exploration and opinion that digress from the mainstream. However, increased thinking outside the box has the potential to flesh out the answers we seek. Continue reading
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