The three most common village sounds (aside from yelling children and crowing roosters) – the church bell, the church loli (Fijian drum – that hollowed out log behind the men) and the ubiquitous tukituki (pounding) of the yaqona. My last bit of research this year was to attend a large church soli (gift), where different divisions of the village (the matanisiga from Sunday) get together to contribute toward the community. While gathering the gifts, everyone gathers round the tanoa to chat while awaiting all participants and counting the cash. Gift giving is a public act; the amounts raised are called aloud and people visibly troop forward to make contributions. This gift visibility is one reason why monetary gifts are not favored for other sorts of events #talesfromthefield #villagelife #islandlife #drumsounds #thebeatgoeson #kadavu #fiji


Social space is arranged by social status here in Fiji. Because I am a guest and I have a PhD, my hosts keep trying to put me icake (up) – giving me higher status. I, on the other hand, keep trying to move ira (down) – saying I’m not supposed to have so much authority. I’m a woman not yet married, usually I’d be low status. My biggest problem in this back & forth is I don’t yet recognize where icake (up) is in the social space until it’s too late. Here we drink yaqona for a host’s 58th birthday. This big house belongs to an important chiefly family, so the highest icake space is occupied only by the late chief’s pictures and an empty couch. I didn’t realise this couch was icake until I had already been duped into moving up. Oh well, next time #talesfromthefield #socialrules #etiquette #kadavu #fiji

Busy day: There were two functions on – a 100 nights following a funeral and a rogorogo (first child ceremony). Here women leave the 100 nights presentation of food and yaqona in the vale ni bose (village hall) to go deliver gifts of soap, toilet paper, diapers, and kerosene for the rogorogo. Ironically, the child is just about the right age to be the deceased reincarnated. We’ll have to wait to see when they talk if this is the case. Gifts differ by occasion and family relationship. The gifts tend to have some functional value – like pillows, blankets, and mats for a wedding (tevutevu), soap for a baby, or benzine and yaqona for a return home after a long absence. Mourning rituals follow another logic – people eat a last meal and drink a last yaqona the night of a death, then decorate the grave 4 nights after a death, then make special garlands for each night starting on the 10th to 100 nights. During the 100 nights after a death, family members abstain from eating the last food the deceased ate; abstain from smoking, drinking, and yaqona; and abstain from cutting hair or shaving. 100 nights (~ 3 months) after the death, there is another feast, people cut their hair & shave, and the celebration caps off with a night of yaqona and a return to joking around the tanoa (yaqona bowl). #talesfromthefield #villagelife #tradition #ceremony #giftgiving #kadavu #fiji

As the first Sunday of the month (and the last of this field season – I hope), today was matanisiga and communion day in church this morning. Wesleyan Methodism is still a central pillar of iTaukei Fijian identity. The pastor for all of Kadavu presided over today’s communion. With my Catholic background, I initially balked at taking communion here since I haven’t done the training. But there is no trans-substantiation in Methodism, the bread and wine (in this case, pink sugary water) are just symbols. So since it wasn’t really the body and blood, I felt fine taking it. #talesfromthefield #crossdenominations #christianity #sundaybest #communion #religion #kadavu #fiji

My evening beach stroll was interrupted by a family of free-range pigs. These piggies may be living it up today, but no doubt they are destined for the pot at some feast for a wedding or a birthday or a funeral. No other meat carries the prestige of pork – even if you kill 10 cows, your function will be considered a failure if there is no pork on the menu. (For those of you not yet in the know, I really dislike pigs – they creep me out. I promptly turned around and walked the other way when these porkers showed up) #talesfromthefield #pigsofinstagram #theotherwhitemeat #freerange #villagelife #kadavu #fiji