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Mother's umbilicus and father's spirit: the dialectics of selfhood of a Yagwoia transgendered person.


The Yagwoia-Angan people inhabit a rugged mountain region straddling the borderlands of the Eastern Highlands, Morobe, and the Gulf Provinces. Although my focus in this study is on the life-trajectory of a single transgendered Yagwoia, its background is the totality of their life-world which, through his^her (1) predicament, is rendered into a unique configuration and an acute expression of their fundamental values. There is a vital dynamics of every Yagwoia life trajectory, regardless of one's own sexed embodiment, that has to be briefly explicated from the outset since it is present as an unthematised dimension of this person's situation. This is the dynamics of the paternal bone-power and its internalisation, a subject of a long study from which the present paper is an extract. The Yagwoia notion of the paternal bone and its power pertains to the relationship between the father and his children, specifically his sons (see Mimica 2007a: 5-6, 2007b:77-105). 'Bone' condenses the paternal phallic--i.e., semenal-spiritual--power contained, not just in the father's genitals, but in the entire skeleton which in the Yagwoia understanding of the bodily edifice is an arboreal structure and as such, a phallic-ouroboric totality that generates its own animation. Reciprocally, this bodily microcosmos is animated by the macrocosmic metabolism generated by the movements, light and differential temperature of the sun and moon. This means that, like any tree, the bone (metonymically meaning the entire body as a phallic gestalt) is a generative organism whose trunk is rooted in the earth while the branches and leaves extend skyward. In the most expanded terms, the bone, then, is the human embodiment as the microcosmic equivalent of the macrocosmic edifice of the world delimited by the sky and earth (Mimica 2006:33). In terms of this global image (body=tree) the notion of the 'father's bone' means that he is primarily a bigger branch (arm) closer to the trunk (spine = central axis of the body), while his sons at first are the smaller branches (hand-fingers) issuing from it. Later, when they replace him, they--in Yagwoia understanding--extract his bone and, in turn, the sons themselves become incorporated into the branch closer to the trunk from which, qua themselves, issue their own branches (children).

Daughters too are the branch-issues, but their destiny is to be like the leaves (fingernails) that detach from the trunk because they marry outside of their own paternal 'trunk' (latice group) and enable other trunks and their branches to internally reproduce themselves, i.e., that the fathers become replaced by their progeny of which the sons continue the process of (endo-) generation of the trunk via the incorporation into its branches which in turn are being incorporated into the trunk. The process is one of self-reciprocal incorporation, i.e., ouroboric (Mimica 1991, 2006). Moreover, every part of this self-totalising totality is identical to the whole (i.e., is hologramic) concretely imagined as a tree closed in on itself, i.e., its branches and roots intertwining. This is the archetypal, cosmic tree of life whose structural determination is ouroboric because, like the serpent that eats its own tail, this tree grows in-through-and-out-of-itself, ad infinitum. Thus, the trunk = branches = leaves = whole tree = trunk = roots = branches =and-so-on. Apart from their cosmology and its diverse forms of actualisation, this scheme is fully objectified in the Yagwoia naming system (Mimica 1988, 1991).

Finally, the reality of the soul and spirit that this notion encapsulates is best conveyed through a notion of generative energy whose macrocosmic source are the sun and moon replicated in the human body by the differential flow and interchange of blood and semenal (bone-marrow) flow in the blood-ropes (veins, arteries) and skeletal passages which in Yagwoia understanding comprise a system of intra-bodily channels. Accordingly, the notion of the 'extraction-incorporation of the father's bone' entails also the incorporation of the paternal spirit-power (energy). (2) Now, Ulaqayi, as I will call the protagonist of this ethnography, exemplifies a person who, overtly at least, from his birth onward has never desired to seize the phallic bone-power from his father, let alone to wrench it out of him as Yagwoia boys, in the course of their young life, are expected to accomplish in experientially diverse ways. Needless to say, he wasn't nose-pierced either.


Ulaqayi was born with the male body but in his self-identity and every mode of countenance he is a woman. Thus he is a kwol-aapale (man-woman), the only one of his kind in the living memory of the Yagwoia. (3) I knew nothing specifically about him (4) before I first saw him (in December 1995) with a group of women squatted at my hut-door. His age would have been 18-23. I noticed an incongruity. His countenance was feminine in every detail but his face was discernibly male, full of thin hair that seemed to have never been shaved. His voice was male and his speech mannerism was without any noticeably accentuated feminine modulation. Nevertheless, he reverberated with feminine luminance. Then a week or so later a pell-mell fight broke out among a group of boys and young men during a card-game which created a huge racket and enticed the people to run down from all sides to see what was happening. Again, there he was standing among women and watching the melee from some distance. I had already learned that he was a boy who knew no other behaviour (hyiuwye) (5) but that of woman. People from all sides of the Yagwoia lands (territorial groups) know of this boy who became aapalo-qwapa (6) (like-a-woman), behaves like one, and does everything and exclusively what only women do. This is exactly how he was described to me time and again: that everything about his behaviour and activity is what women--not men--do. The emphasis is on the characteristic female behavioural repertoire (hyiuwye), which has impressed upon his kune umpne (thought-soul component) from the earliest childhood and that is the reason why he became (imanatenye) and does everything like a woman. In Yagwoia understanding, his womanliness is due to the semblance of the generic woman which encapsulates the characteristic behavioural concentrate (hyiuwye) and that is what Ulaqayi's soul took into his self. In that determination he is as his soul makes him to be. It is precisely because the soul develops through differentiation and develops its characteristics and powers by being imprinted by semblances (often in visionary experiences) that this hyiuwye complex is often rendered into Tok Pisin as sain (shine), sta (star), piksa (picture) all of which emphasise that the quality of the critical experience is light and luminosity. By the same token, it points to the ideal nature of such. semblances (see Mimica 2003a, 2006). Thus, Ulaqayi's soul took into him the 'shine' of all women (their generic characteristics).

He not only refuses to but cannot do men's activities, including the most basic ones such as climbing up a tree. He also doesn't associate with men as a man, no matter how much they have coaxed, begged and pressured him to do that. (7) But as a man-woman he engages within a rather narrower range of interaction than ordinary women precisely because no man would want to take him as his woman (i.e. wife) for the simple reason that he cannot bear a child. As one younger man said, no matter how good he is in doing hard work, and Ulaqayi excels in this domain better than any regular woman, in so far as you would want him as your woman (i.e. wife) you would lose money. Why? He has no place for making a baby. When I asked some men and a young woman about what Ulaqayi's future prospects as a woman were, they agreed that with him there is no itaale (replacement, i.e. child). This was his fundamental deficiency. From 1995 until 2000, when his still lingering adolescent youthfulness was transforming into a full bodily maturity, I got to know and watch Ulaqayi reaching the limits of his viability as a man-woman in a life-world like the Yagwoia. (8)


His father (Lamwa) had two wives: the first bore him four sons and three daughters, the second two sons and four daughters. Ulaqayi was the second wife's penultimate child and her second son. All tour sisters eventually got married but their bride-price was 'eaten' by the elder brother, the alimentary fact that, as we shall see, eventually brought their younger man-woman brother into a pitiful quandary. According to his mother's account, at the time of delivery he 'came with a tail' (hveuwye-pupu nimotaqali), that is, he had a penis. The reduplicated female gender marker (-pupu) (9) generates an intricate metaphorical tension. In her phrasing the penis is imaged as a tail while the female gender-suffix--qua femaleness--indicates its smallness and simultaneously both feminises and projects it as umbilicus, to which she refers in the next statement solely as 'his little (ff)-one' (kiGa'/t/nye pupu). This particular underspecification is motivated by the fact that she was talking in the presence of two men about child-birth which invokes birth blood. By omitting peyule (umbilical cord) she minimised the explicitness of the thematic context. If it wasn't for Qang who immediately asked her if she meant the umbilicus I would have assumed that she was referring to the 'tail'.

1. hyeuwye-pupu = tail-ff (small = penis)

2. kiGa'/t/nye-pupu = 3S-Poss (his)-ff (little one = umbilicus)


She said that having cut it she put it away with the intention of depositing it in the forest, i.e. in a tree or inside a water-fall. But when she wanted to do so the cut-off umbilicus cord had vanished. She stated that although he was born with the 'tail' (= penis), the disappearance of his umbilicus translated into the boy becoming woman-like (aapala-qwapapu). Although in her account this was stated as a causal relationship, one should rather understand that the events concerning the umbilicus at birth became intelligible when the boy grew up and it transpired that he was like-a-woman.

Although there was no explication, the detail of the missing umbilicus has in the Yagwoia understanding a sense of a foreboding whose evident actualisation is Ulaqayi's womanliness. From the different but complementary vantage point, of the intelligence of his mother's un/conscious, (10) the source of her remarkable construction, I must refer to the genuine ambiguity of the Yagwoia archetypal imago of the phallo-umbilicus (11) which in this particular instance is rendered through the pregnant condensation of tail=umbilicus. It both displaces and retains the reference to the external penis, Ulaqayi's manifest genital maleness. In the event of his birth, however, the severance of the umbilicus went somewhat awry; his mother cut it and displaced it, as it were, since this pre-natal connection between this boy and his mother disappeared along with his maleness. To put it slightly differently: the umbilicus had gone but the maternal connection reappeared incarnated in full guise as her son's exclusive female self-identity. Thus, although the penis lost its significance in Ulaqayi's psycho-sexual development from its inception, the (maternal) phallus (12) took possession of her son's soul in toto. Indeed, it can be said that for the rest of his life, Ulaqayi's masculinity qua the penis remained exactly as his mother named and displaced it, just a 'little-tail-she'. I will take up further issues of this phallic dialectics of castration in Ulaqayi's sexual identity at a later stage.


In his own self-account Ulaqayi gave a most definitive formulation as to how and when he realised that he was a woman rather than a man. In his wording, the period in which his critical experience unfolded follows immediately after he 'came from his mother's net bag' (womb) which is to be understood as demarcating the early years of childhood. During that period, as it is the case with Yagwoia children of both sexes, he was primarily in the orbit of his mother's bodily presence and care. He was thus participating in the milieu of women's daily domestic chores and work around the house, in the garden, and in the pandanus groves distributed throughout the fringe-forest zone. This is a rhythmic flow of diverse activities involving intense engagement with earthly, vegetal, and animal substances all of which transmute into edible foodstuff and, most significantly through pigs, into wealth. The pigs copulate, multiply, and translate into shells and money, and furthermore, enable for humans to obtain more wealth and all sorts of goods, and through brideprice they become conjoined in sex, make babies, and every so often they tear each other apart on the account of all these things--principally wealth and sex. Here, in the facticity of demanding work one experiences oneself as a potent source of and the conduit for the generativity of the world substance and its diverse life-forms. Many of these literally teed back into the human bodily self. The maternal sphere of daily domestic work, then, is driven by and intensely infused with the fundamental libidinal-appetitive desires and demands. Here, the desire and appetitive cravings of adults converge with the desires and demands of babies and children, which, however, are more narrowly and directly focussed on the maternal bodily provisioning.

This realm centred upon and vitally sustained by women's work generates and sustains their self-valuation and self-esteem. It is primarily in the activity of food preparation, planting, digging, peeling of tubers, cooking in earth ovens and/or open fire, pig growing, firewood fetching, cleaning, and so on, that Yagwoia children come to experience and appreciate the way their mothers, as valuing and judgmental adults, apprise each other, their husbands, and most fundamentally, sustain and articulate their self-esteem and narcissistic self-modulation. Here the child comes to sense that his/her mother is valued, judged, and praised by others (eg. co-wives or more distant people) as desirable, good, hard-working, or lazy, bad, good-for-nothing, etc. She lives herself within an intersubjective field of affectivity and evaluations in which she just as much gauges, endears, praises, and disparages others as they do it to her. By the same token, she continuously upholds the value of herself, her children, and her own kin. This, then, is the interhuman field of the primary matrix of incorporative-identificatory dynamics through which the egoic self of infancy experiences and shapes his/her self mediated by the working and feeding adult women: the mothers, father's sisters, grandmothers, sisters. And amidst these, there are brothers, fathers, grandfathers, maternal uncles and every other kind of men.

Such is the Yagwoia domestic milieu within which humanness is articulated through the interaction with the worked-upon earth substance and life-forms. Pigs, dogs, and game are of particular importance and in that order. Dogs intrinsically relate to hunting and game. In this regard, long before a child, especially male, will be able to effectively relate to a dog as a fellow hunter, notwithstanding such childhood practices as lizard and rat catching, taking part in pig raising is an activity in which every child can participate more akin to an adult. And precisely as such s/he can experience the power of their own bodily work and-indeed--generativity, more so than in the case of such activity as helping the mother to plant new tubers or digging them out for daily feed. This is the critical context in which Ulaqayi's self-recognition had emerged and crystallised.

Thus, in his sell-account he said that while still a young child (probably 5-8 years old) he was given two piglets to raise. I am choosing this verbal phrasing because it most acutely expresses the character of involvement with pigs. One feeds them in order to grow them, and when they have become big s/he can delight not just in their size but also, when the sows have a litter, in the multiplicity of the squealing and suckling piglets. They are the concrete produce of pig owner's generative activity. The two piglets that Ulaqayi grew became big and produced piglets. Eventually his two sows ended up being killed and eaten which is the proper destiny of all pigs. By being eaten they would have also been transmuted into shells. But what impressed the child Ulaqayi so profoundly was exactly this fact that his two piglets grew up through his endeavour and gave birth to baby piglets. With this a dim realisation began to insinuate itself namely that he had effectively accomplished the same feat as adult women. This porcine plenitude came into being, as he put it, 'through my hand right-here' (ngalye hwolye qapatepa namalda), yet he was only a little child.

Then the experience was repeated. He got another piglet which he eagerly took into his care and before long it also grew up, had a litter, and finally was killed. Feeding, growing, pregnancy, squealing plenitude of piglets, and death caused by insatiable human appetite--the porcine existential cycle is short and definite. It would also enable for a child to feel a tacit sense of omnipotent mastery of life-and-death of the creatures grown in entirety by and, as it were, out of his hand. Ulaqayi used the same image with regard to his other generative activity--garden work, fire-wood fetching, and just about every other female work that he devoted himself to. He surmised that having accomplished all this work a thought came to him that he was not a boy but a girl. (13) Here it should be emphasised that for the Yagwoia, thinking is the activity of one's thought-soul. B acts upon oneself rather than the ego being the agency that directly does the thinking. What is implicit here is that Ulaqayi's soul was affected by the woman's characteristic hviuwye which now dawns (14) upon him in an act of self-revelation. He reiterated it by saying that he thereby realised that he was not a man but a woman. (15) The indubitable grounds of his self-recognition were the pigs that he grew and which, reciprocally, actualised and affirmed his female generativity, which is the motive force of his self-identification and self-certitude. In another account of the same experience he said that he himself grew up with the pigs he grew.

This is the centrepiece of Ulaqayi's self-account from which he didn't deviate. When I asked him again some four years after the first account how he realised that he was a woman, he referred to the previous recording reiterating in the process the experience of pig-raising.

Several comments are in order. Overtly the maternal presence in this self elaboration is not mentioned, apart from the reference to his origination from 'my mother's net-bag' (16) which posits his-becoming-woman in the period of early childhood. Furthermore, there is no overt indication of who gave him the piglets or whether his mother or other people praised him in his early efforts at pig raising and his prolific success. The stress is on all-by-himself and his handiwork. This singular Yagwoia image of the procreative hand confers upon his self-centeredness a phallic determination that characterises the generative intra-bodily powers of adults (male and female). This self-picturing just as much appositely conveys the narcissistic strength of his adult egoity as it echoes the kind of intense libidinal projection that must have enveloped him when he, as a little boy, in the wake of his pigs' first litter, became smitten by the power of his procreativity.

Although not overtly verbalised, his own choice of this experience as the reason for becoming a woman indicates quite clearly that the sows, which he grew, and their babies had the significance of being his progeny, and reciprocally, that he grew up through them. To be sure, this is nothing more but an intensification of the actual fact that the owners, especially when they themselves grow their pigs, are their parents. Furthermore, pigs (and dogs) bear the patri-names (17) of their owners signifying that they as such are of the same bone-identity as their owners. In this regard, Ulaqayi's self-experience actualises the common reality of intense empathy and identifications that exist between humans and their pigs in the Yagwoia life-world (and elsewhere in New Guinea). Also evident here is that common desire in children (of both sexes) to produce babies. But in Ulaqayi's case his earliest feminine self-insinuations blossomed uninhibited if for no other reason but for the fact that he pursued female work on a par to other women within his domestic milieu. And the principal among them was his mother. In this regard, to the extent that she doesn't figure explicitly in his self-account, this can be taken as a good index of her omnipresence, or better, omni-intra-presence in his soul which, as the Yagwoia see it, took no other 'shine' but that of the woman.

The whole tenor of his self-account makes clear that in his adhesion to his mother and, thus, in the pursuit of woman's generativity, he at the same time vied to excel her, although not overtly but in the guise of women-in-general. Here is the core-determination of his omni/m/potence which, to the extent that he could sustain it throughout his young life in the omni-potent mode, this eventually, as we shall see, began to transfigure into an escalating experience of his impotence in the face of the limits of his project as a man-woman. To the extent that his power and narcissistic self-equilibrium are entirely rooted in his maternal femaleness, actualised in only one register available to him, namely as his superior excellence in the sphere of women's work, including his ability to look after babies as good as any woman (minus breast feeding), his phallic self-circuity is entirely determined in relation to and by his mother. As we shall see, her own expression of that position became clearly stated following her husband's (i.e. Ulaqayi's father's) death.


As he was growing up, his accomplishments as a man-woman had brought him unreserved acknowledgement of his splendid handiwork, but, at the same time, disapproval of his unwavering self-pursuit. I must emphasise that this never took the form of some cruel denunciation or ridicule, let alone that his fellow villagers would have judged and castigated him as an aberration or a freak. On the contrary, they always saw him as a man-woman and precisely as such they would tell him to give up on behaving as a woman and start behaving as a man. For instance, some men would tell him to take an axe and start cutting trees and make fence-posts, or to carry firewood as men do, upright and on his shoulder rather than doing the woman's work in the garden, making net-bags, or carrying food and firewood suspended from his forehead and on the back, as women do. The young man (mentioned earlier) who said that a man would lose money on Ulaqayi if taken for a wife, told me how he once trusted a bow and arrows into the latter's hands and begged him in frustration--"Take! Take this, leave the digging spade, leave the skirt!" Still more, every so often he would be chided for being always with women and never with men as one of them. Then again, when he started buying European clothes, men would tell him to buy trousers rather than a skirt. The best way to describe these men's attitude is that they were frustrated and affronted by his total rejection of the man's hyiuwye. Many women, too, told him to give up on their ways and be with men. But it is also the case that some women appreciated him as their hard-working companion. What is more, they said that he is a complete woman and therefore can be with them all the time. Whatever this range of attitudes, his incorporation into the female group-body and social habitus was total on a par to his equally total incorporation of woman's hyiuwye.

For his part, Ulaqayi was unyielding. Always ready to counter any reproaches concerning his woman's way, he would retort that he had always followed the woman's hyiuwye, and that he cannot undo it and change. What do they want him to do?!--to start wearing trousers, climbing up the pandanus palms, and such'?! He can only do what women do and he'll carry on in that fashion. In all respects he sustained his position with admirable stalwartness. When 1 asked him about the attitudes of his mother and father, he said that they also tell him to give up on his woman's hyiuwye, but his argument to them was the same: 'how can I give it up when I followed it from the time I was little and took this strength. I am not able to give it up'. Indeed, his womanhood was the core of his self and as such his yeki'/t/nye (strength).

However, just as in the wider field of sociality so also within his family orbit, it seems quite certain that he didn't face any radical opposition, either from his mother, the father, or his siblings. The father didn't reject him; he appreciated his son as everyone else did, namely that he was a man-woman. But at the same time both parents held a view, regardless of their son's self-certitude to the contrary, that he might be compelled to change as he got older. It was at the point that he got old enough to be given a woman that his father's and mother's demands that he should give up his womanliness gained a hitherto unsuspected existential weight. This reached a critical momentum in a period of some twenty months between late 1998 and 2000. I will deal with the intricacies of this situation below; presently I will further detail Ulaqayi's sell-consolidation in his womanhood before that crisis, precipitated by his father's death in mid 1998.


The dominant self image of his womanhood, which he lived with peremptory commitment, is that of a hard working woman. Undoubtedly, no actual woman could or would really want to measure up to this ideal that he tirelessly actualised in his daily comportment. In one of his sell-accounts he described how he does everything necessary for cooking in the stone-oven. So when the food is ready to be uncovered, he will be the first to start doing it and call upon the rest of women to join him and do their work. And if he sees that afterwards there is some rubbish left lying around--sweet potato peel or other rubbish which other women hadn't bothered to clean up, well he will do it alter them. And to top it up, he always cares about the boys from his homestead, who go in pursuit of their pleasures and interests, gambling and such. Accordingly he puts aside the food for them, which they can enjoy when they return hungry. A good woman, be she a sister, mother, or paternal aunt (kalyi) will make sure that her children don't stay hungry. My co-worker Qang unreservedly praised Ulaqayi's hyiuwye in this respect: 'He looks after all his brothers' children same as a mother or father's sister. And when he transports a baby it is exactly like a woman: he'll first mount a net-bag loaded with tubers, then comes a load of fire-wood, and last the baby on the top of the head'. I too was impressed by the completeness of Ulaqayi's distinctively female Yagwoian habitus of baby-care, a flow of movements, gestures and comportments, ranging from swift pick-ups and holding caress to playful face mouthing and sweet-nothing verbalisations. (18)

There is an aura of indefatigable dutifulness about his womanly comportment, always amplified by the point that on no account would his thought-soul compel him to desire doing all those things boys and men ordinarily desire and do. No! His thought-soul is fixated on women's work and nothing else. Much as he lives himself as this ideality, it is equally a self-actualisation aimed at and for others. In his self-descriptions he reiterates that others, men and women, comment on his accomplishments as a woman that outdoes all other women. This self-projection into an idealising, exterior vantage point from which he sees himself being seen by others as a woman, is an intrinsic dimension of his ceaseless work of self-actualisation. When I told him that I had heard how some men from other territorial groups wanted to pay bride-price for him because they took him for a real and astonishingly hard-working woman, he confirmed that this was indeed the case. His reply to them was that though they think he is a woman they'll be shaken by surprise to learn that he is a man. At one level he is more than pleased with this kind of recognition for that is the triumph of his womanliness. But at the same time he said that he wasn't pleased with these approaches, insisting that what they see is the hyiuwye his soul holds and this is the only thing he knows and does. The implication is that his womanliness, as it were, does not go beyond the domain of work. As for marrying a woman he said without hesitation that he himself has already become a woman and therefore he doesn't think about it. Similarly so in respect of getting a man which, most importantly, is unacceptable among the Yagwoia. As for the prospect of getting old and dying as an old woman he was just as definite. Yes, his thought-soul is firm on this; he will remain a woman until he gets old and dies.

I began to realise that he felt the possibilities of coupling as a threat to his female selfidentity. From the time of our first conversation (February 1995), this had a definite quality of his self-sufficiency. He rejects taking either a woman or a man and responds to suggestions that he give up this womanly work: 'I became woman-like and who will give me food. I am not a man so they'll give me food. My thought is--I myself must work in the garden and provide food. There is no man or woman who will provide me with food'. It should be observed that he cast the regular man's position as the one who is fed by his woman while the regular woman is the one who feeds him. But in his case, being the kind of woman that he is, he cannot expect either a man or a woman to feed him. Ergo, he has to do it for and by himself. It seemed that the only thing that mattered to him is the preservation of his womanliness, which both versions of conjugal coupling would compromise. To be with another woman he would have to give up his womanhood. To be with a man was also unacceptable, principally to others. But it was his own genuine perspective that the coupling with a man would compromise his self-sufficiency, regardless of his sexual desire. For his womanliness subsists upon his omni/m/potent (19) core in which his femininity is primarily his ideal of and for himself but qua the radical symbiosis with his mother. And the only masculine self-presence that he is truly coupled with, or better, infused with, is his mother's--her phallus--over which he has total possession. But for the same reason, it also possesses him in toto. This is the truth of his omni/m/potence that defines his self-sufficiency. However, precisely because he is an actualisation of the Yagwoia womanhood configured in its near-crystalline essence (but for menstruation and child-bearing), his self-sufficiency as a woman who cannot possibly depend on others to feed her, is constituted within a framework of profound dependencies on men and their work.

This became only too clear in the same conversation. Thus, he duly said that he, like all women, doesn't really know and cannot make a house for himself. If he tried, then at best it would be a shack. In fact at the time he was sleeping at his mother's house that his father built for her, as every man should properly do for his woman. Furthermore, Ulaqayi explained that he never sleeps in the man's section of any house but always in the woman's. (20) As for making a garden, i.e. creating a tillable plot by fencing it off with numerous posts, Ulaqayi candidly said that his thought-soul never thinks about that. That is what men do and 'we (i.e. women) go and stay inside and work'. He said that he only helps as the women do it, by carrying posts lengthwise across his back and on his head, bending forward as he goes, but not on the shoulder. As for driving them into the ground, that would truly be too hard for him. He mainly works in the gardens of his older brother and his patrilateral half-brothers (by his father's first wife). Whoever in his sphere of relatedness needs an extra woman to work inside the garden, he goes in. Here, in a nut-shell, Ulaqayi made clear the real foundation of his self-sufficiency rooted, as it is, in the soil of deep dependency upon his closest male kin. (21) And this dependency was the determining condition of his life, which as yet had to show in full its true devouring nature.


It seems that his aging mother and father had a more cogent perspective on their son's future life, dependant upon his married brothers. Thus, the parents, principally the father in fact, would declare time and again that when they die, should they (as spirits of the dead) see that the other brothers abuse and disregard Ulaqayi, they (the parental spirits) will be so sorry for and concerned with him that they will kill and take him with them. No Yagwoia would take lightly this sort of menacing warning and, indeed, Ulaqayi's brothers were at first quite anxious. They responded by asking their parents why would they want to kill him for they (brothers) had no intention of harming him. Rather, Ulaqayi was their strength and the parents must not think of undercutting them by taking him away. They (brothers) will look after him so that he can work inside their garden and look after their pigs. He had become entirely like a woman and, at the same time remained a strong man; they wouldn't want to think or do anything bad to him, the brothers said.

It should be observed that the parental threat to Ulaqayi's brothers pledged the destruction not of their lives but his. What is more, the emotional equation relates the brothers' possible neglect and abuse of the younger brother to the parents' sorrowful concern for his misery which as such would have to be terminated by them killing him off. This scheme is intended to induce guilt in the brothers, but at the same time it feeds into the victim's narcissistic self-circuity effectively fuelling his passively omni/m/potent self-regard whose focus is on others. Its dominant effect is melancholic self-righteous rage, indicative of the symbiotic deadlock in the maternal self-object; (22) and the terminal self-fulfilment of this dependency would be suicide. As we shall see, this register of sorrowful self-concern and, by the same token, of impotence eventually became one of Ulaqayi's modes of manipulation of his brothers. But in 1995, while both parents were still alive he still had not attended to the web of exploitation and powerlessness that his all-female dependency on his brothers was spinning around him. He felt that the parental protection, staked on his death, was as such a warranty for his good life. Alas, this intra-familial self-circuity only consolidates the symbiotic fusion with the parental self-objects who in turn reinforce their grip over ego's own life-and-death. This in effect specifies the masochistic railing of Ulaqayi's self-circuity.

The calculus of omni/m/potence underlying Ulaqayi's parental protection can be given the following explicit formulation: if you (brothers) don't cater for my desires and demands my parents will kill me for your failure to satisfy me. At this stage, his desire and demands pivoted on his remaining consolidated in his womanly mode of being and doing. Nothing else seemed to matter. As for the brothers' placement in his egoic self-circuity, they were readily fitted in but, clearly enough, in terms of their own self-circuity. They declared him to be their strength, doing, as he did, his excellent and productive work. Therefore, why would they want to deprive themselves of such a source of work and wealth. At that stage this fact hadn't acquired sufficient gravity for Ulaqayi who was still blinded by the pursuit of his own womanliness, self-fulfilled so long as its actualisation is ratified and admired by others. And the fact that his brothers eagerly availed themselves of his fecundity confirmed him in his womanhood. (23) His future life is secured; he will indeed be a woman until her death, making herself actualised in and through his mother and brothers, fully implanted inside their garden-fence. The parental mortal pronouncements tied the nuptial knot on the snare of his symbiotic passivity and womanhood with, as it were, the bride-price that beats all bride-prices--his own life. And, to be sure, the executive grip on the masochistic thread weaved in this ensnaring self-circuity was overtly exercised by the hands of his parents. For it was they who professed to take it upon themselves to be his executioners in the case his fraternal domestic container would reduce him to a sorrowful self-depravity. Such were Ulaqayi's prospects in the mid-nineties when it looked that he would remain entirely rooted inside the garden-fence and house made by his father and brothers rather than by himself. He was adamant about staying the way he was--the dutiful woman made so in the image and by the desire of his soul which in turn got seduced by the 'shine' of his mother the moment she displaced his 'little umbilicus', and by the fecundity of his faithful porcine babies. He was to be his brothers' woman willing to grow old and die as such, a kalyi (father's sister) to their children.


Before I examine the development of his situation in the wake of his father's death l will outline Ulaqayi's sexual desire and concerns. At the time I first talked to him he had already had a tumultuous sexual experience which had made it clear enough that his future self-actualisation as a woman was severely limited.

In the early nineties Ulaqayi was camping in a remote forest-garden area with two sisters and his sister's husband (24) (ZH, kamba) whom I shall call PH. If for nothing else, he is well known as a man of self-assertive disposition and rapacious sexual appetite with a considerable number of extra-marital affairs, including one with his younger brother's wife. (25) One night at the forest-garden hut he and his wife were sleeping with Ulaqayi in the middle. According to the latter, (26) PH first had sex with his wife (Ulaqayi's Z) and then he turned to Ulaqayi (PH's WB) who fellated him. Although Ulaqayi professed that it was his ZH who forced him into this, the reports from the village court that I heard give a more ambiguous picture. According to Ulaqayi, to the extent that his kamba imposed himself on him, this didn't seem to have been a physically forceful move. But whichever way it came about, Ulaqayi did fellate his ZH and then, he said, he moved away to the side where his two sisters were asleep. Reportedly, he told them what happened but they didn't react in the way that he expected, namely to scold PH. They just stood there silent, and probably stunned.

But back in the village the affair was quickly brought to the attention of the komiti, the local government officials, and this immediately became a public issue which generated an equal measure of amusement and dismay. More than just being outrageous, PH's action created a mood of simultaneous disapproval and uneasy admiration. The dominant colouring of the way the villagers mused over his exploit was firstly that it was an exploit. They perceived in it a sort of ingenuity that virtually justified the act itself. The ingenuity was exactly in that PH first had sex with his wife sleeping next to him and then he moved on to, not just to any man, but to his WB (kamba). The point here is that in the Yagwoia affinal field this relationship is tacitly seen as a mediated sexual conjunction between two men. They are conjoined through the woman who is on the one hand the sister to one of them and the proper sexual partner to another. And accordingly, together they are making their (mutual) children.

The sexual-procreative underpinning of this relationship between the two men is marked by the avoidance of the kin term for this relationship in direct address. Although self-reciprocal, it is markedly asymmetrical. As the wife-receiver, a ZH is indebted to his WB. Accordingly it is the latter who is expected to avoid addressing his ZH as mbeloqwa (1S my-affine) on the grounds that it makes him feel unduly ashamed. Indeed, the moment one is addressed as such by a WB (real or classificatory) one immediately feels that one has to give in to whatever demands the WB may hurl upon one. But the case of PH and Ulaqayi amplified the sense of identity and transitivity between a man and his sister. Therefore, the fact that PH moved on from his wile to her brother, who in addition was a shiny woman, didn't strike a dissonant chord but, I can say, gave the fullest expression to its inner and suppressed pitch. It was this aspect that conferred upon PH a veneer of smug cleverness which simultaneously amused and dismayed the villagers. One could almost say that there was a tacit and unsettling feeling running through the group whose meaning was--how come that, as it were, nobody thought of that before. (27)

Ulaqayi's position in this situation has brought into a sharpest relief the kind of quandaries that his determination to be a woman would get him into. At the village court the komiti men came down on him with the full entailments of his self-pursuit of the woman's hyiuwye. They told him--"You see now what happens when you want to be a woman?!!"-thinking that they had really cornered him now. For the answer was immanent in the incident itself--what else but that one inevitably gets involved in sex. Realising that the integrity of his womanliness was at stake, Ulaqayi stood his grounds and replied that this was all right and that he liked it. Reportedly, this left the komitis momentarily gasping for words, but then they scolded him for speaking as he did, finally resigning themselves to the fact that this boy was so strong-willed about his female hyiuwye that nothing would make him give it up. But, all the same, they agreed that PH was culpable since his action was against all the customs of the place. This was fully ratified by the police court held in the village at the time they came to make their initial inquiry. He was told that his having sex with a boy (who at that time wasn't a minor) was against the 'strong law' of Papua New Guinea and that therefore he had broken the law of the gavman (government). The police dealt with him accordingly by roughing him up with heightened brutality so much so that his own ZH felt compelled to offer a pig as compensation to the komiti and the police. This was characterised as the 'washing off his shame'. (28) PH spent a short time in prison at the Mw station. Having paid the fine he was released and returned home.

Despite his ingenious transgression there was no attempt to subject him to any kind of group opprobrium or exclusion; reciprocally, there was no indication in PH that he felt publicly humiliated or precarious about himself. However, for a while he harboured anger over the beatings he had received from the police. A few times he abused his wife on the pretext that she and her brother had testified against him in the court. Yet, as we shall see, PH exercised a protective attitude towards Ulaqayi. Indeed, he was clearly fond of his man-woman kamba (WB). The fact that PH engaged him sexually, despite all the ipseity of his desire, may well be seen as an idiosyncratic actualisation of the repressed truth of that relation. PH is a kind of self-possessed man who, in his self-cock-sureness, would feel fully gratified by the affirmation of his momentary wants and desire over and against all prohibitions. From the inner perspective of Yagwoia libidinal flow, his exploit seems to indicate the assumption that if one pays the bride-price to have sex with the woman in whose womb he implants himself, he may as well have it off with her brother for he is the one who eats the ungye (shells, money) and claims their children's flesh and life as his inalienable self-substance. However, a clear enough factor in his move to have sex with his WB was the fact that the latter embodied the 'shine' of a woman. In fact, as I came to see it later, if there were a man who could have provided Ulaqayi with a genuine sexual affirmation of his womanliness, than it was this kamba (WB) of his.

Whatever Ulaqayi might have desired and phantasised in respect of sexual involvement with a man as the catalyst for his female self-completion, the foregoing experience would have greatly inhibited him from admitting and thematising it not just to other people, such as myself, but also to himself. There was a symptomatic dissonance between his attitude towards talking about his sexual desire on the one hand and about his female bodily habitus on the other. He was relatively at ease talking about the latter precisely because this showed that he was a woman, down to the last detail. He explained that when he has to urinate he squats like a woman. As for an erection, he said that he doesn't experience it, not even when he is pressured to urinate. He also said that he did not have any dreams, and definitely not those in which he would have an ejaculation. So the image he conjured is the total absence, as it were, of male genital stimulation and titillation. (29) This self-avowed absence of erotic self-experience is consonant with his self-idealisation as a dutiful and hard-working woman. Furthermore, to admit that he, qua his external penis, has erotic desire would make him akin to a man, which is what he ardently didn't want to be. So, when Qang suggested to Ulaqayi, due to his knowledge of the Sambia tanim man, that at some stage he may lose his penis and develop a vagina instead, the latter said that he thought about this a lot and that he would like to have a vagina. He reaffirmed this when I asked whether he would like to become completely changed; he replied that he would be delighted if he could get a vagina. (30)

It was this rather unreserved response which indicated to me anew how profoundly obsessed Ulaqayi is with his feminine self-image. In a sense it was the maximal incarnation and actualisation of his own contrasexual self-image that seemed to be the all-consuming focus of his libidinal investment and desire. So if there was a primary erotic object that he desired most of all, it would have to be himself as a complete woman. The critical dream-visions that he had following the death of his father gave me indirect evidence and guidance for this supposition, specifically that in the dynamic structuration and maintenance of his libidinal body-image, his genital excitement must be generated by his contra-sexual self-image.

As for his desire to have sex with another person, it became clear that he saw a man's sexual advances to him in the same way as he appreciated bride-price offers: gratifying to the extent that this affirms him in his womanliness. Smirkingly, he said that he tells some men who make lurid remarks to him that they can get excited and erect their sticks on him! That is what men do. And they may want to do the same thing as PH. But himself (Ulaqayi) being a woman, that sort of thought (i.e., desire for sex) doesn't come to him. His thought goes only to work. What he emphasises is his dutiful, asexual womanliness which he defends against copulative sexual desire. This he attributes to men more than to women although he knows that they are anything but void of the same desire. Accordingly, he places himself in the exclusively passive but narcissistically gratifying position; men may wield their sticks at him as it pleases them, but that is their desire not his. To the extent that he might have felt a sense of his superiority for being outside of it, by the same token it would seem that he didn't sense that this was also undercutting his pursuit of incarnating womanliness in full.


In his libidinal-narcissistic economy, sexual intercourse would entail a radical rupture of his womanly self-semblance which resisted a freer and deeper articulation of sexual (erotic) object cathexes and concomitantly, of his own sexual development. If anything, the absolute cathexis of his female self-image was channelled and actualised in the sphere of work within which, to use Lacan's notion, he generated his only kind of jouissance. (31) Accordingly, despite his masterly incarnation of the woman's hyiuwye, he didn't develop a relation with the phallus that would make his soul equivalent to that of his fellow Yagwoia women. To put it differently, he could not desire and deal with men as Yagwoia women do. He was a woman well in excess of and below the desire of Yagwoia womankind. As I came to see it, for him the fundamental issue was whether to remain the kind of womanly self that he had known all his young life, rooted as it was in his archaic maternal-phallic matrix, or to give that self-image up and become a man. The latter meant literally to embrace the demands of principally his aging father and, qua him, the mother. Their formula for this transformation was: to make him a man meant in the first instance to get him a woman. This is what Ulaqayi, amidst all his anxiety, also thought to be the case, except that, in addition, he knew better than anybody else that it also entailed the loss--nay--the sacrifice of his most treasured selfhood.

There was a serious leakage in this self-flow. It began to beset him ever more acutely, not because of the pressures exerted on him by his parents and others, but because he felt it through the dispossession of his very self-substance, the money that he generated through his work. As I emphasised above, Ulaqayi's womanliness found its sole mode of expression in work. In respect of desiring and demanding a woman for himself, his self was very much in question as to whether or not he was enough of a man to satisfy the demands and desires of a potential woman (i.e. wife), but in respect of the fecundity of his work he was superior to all of his brothers as well as their wives. As such they were in his debt rather than the other way around. This became the focal aspect of the next phase in the dialectics of Ulaqayi's attempt at self-repossession and masculinization, no matter how tentative it turned out to be. It unfolded along the following trajectory.


It will be recalled that Ulaqayi's parents had pledged to exercise a deadly protection over him. Its principal executor was the old father who in particular was pressuring his four other sons to get a woman for Ulaqayi who might thereby be compelled to give up his female way. In doing this, the father was actually making them assume the paternal position vis-avis their other and younger siblings. (32) By the mid-nineties these four were all married with children. Besides Ulaqayi the first wife's fourth boy also had to be given a woman quite soon. His predicament was also a cul-de-sac although his first-born, eldest brother assumed the paternal responsibility for him. (33) The old father's worrisome concern was entirely channelled into Ulaqayi. Feeling that he hadn't got much time left, the father used every opportunity to state his demands to his impassive sons. By now it was clear that Ulaqayi's predicament as a hard-working women suited their desires the best. They continuously asked him for money, which he willy-nilly gave them, and in the process they procured for themselves pork and all sorts of other goods. Ulaqayi's elder brother (first-born) had already eaten the bride-price for their three sisters, giving nothing to his younger brother, on the pretext that he was a woman. The father accordingly specifically told him that the bride-price for the fourth sister has to go to his younger brother and so for the purpose of getting him a woman. But the elder brother disregarded it.

The old father's demand was comprised of the following pronouncements. He wanted his married sons to find a woman for Ulaqayi and see what kind of effect this would have on him. If it didn't work then so be it; and if the chosen woman didn't want to stay with him, that is her will, she can leave him, and so be it. But first of all they've got to provide him with a woman and then, the old man maintained, their little brother will cast off his female hyiuwye. They should do this while he was still alive whereas if he died beforehand, then afterwards he would not be pleased with them. That is, when he had become a spirit of the dead he would carry out his deadly pledge. He underscored that when he died, if he would see that they do not feel sorrowful concern for their brother's predicament, and if he (as the spirit of the dead) sees that the latter is still the same, without a woman and himself living as one, he would kill him and take him away. Moreover, he especially stipulated to his wife (Ulaqayi's mother) that she must not die quickly and follow him. She has to make sure that the other brothers first provide Ulaqayi with a 'net-bag' (womb = woman) and then she can die. (34) With this he had literally made her equivalent to himself, which, as we shall see, she fully embraced.

The old father, however, didn't fail to declare in his pre-mortem demands, which targeted Ulaqayi's womanliness, that he also thought of his shiny son as being superior to his brothers. So, not only did he declare that Ulaqayi must continue to grow pigs, because this strength of his would not fail him; the father imparted to him the most precious knowledge, the spells (ququne yaqale) for raising pigs. One can only marvel at the wisdom of his gesture for there was no better way to at once affirm his son's fecund womanliness and, at the same time, to insist that he should forego its literal incarnation. What is more, the old lather specifically stipulated that the brothers must not find a lazy woman for this could affect Ulaqayi's soul (umpne) and in turn make him lazy. No, they've got to find a woman who is as hard-working as him. This echoed a view that the brothers' wives weren't good and that they all were living off Ulaqayi's hard work. The latter's MB (who died in 1995; see Mimica 2003a) used to chide his sister's first-born son (i.e. Ulaqayi's elder brother) for getting himself a lazy woman. As for his younger brother he must get a woman that will properly match him.

The old man kept on talking and relentlessly admonishing his sons in this vein until he finally died in August 1998, following an epidemic which swept the area after an El Nino-related drought that lasted almost a year (1996-7). The sons didn't heed their father one bit and, even if he didn't fully take into himself his father's desire, Ulaqayi began to feel ever more acutely the incremental price of his position of being a shiny sister of his brothers who preferred him to remain as he was, without a real net-bag (womb = woman) and replacement (child) inside it. In January 1999 he estimated that his brothers extracted from him some 620 Kina which, by Yagwoia standards, was a lot of money considering that at that time a bride-price could be anything from 700 to 1,400 Kina. In addition to his brothers, Ulaqayi's MZSS (i.e. his classificatory matrilateral brother's son, hence a son) also drew on his fecundity, 50 Kina at that stage. Ulaqayi came to stay at this matrilateral brother's place in order to lessen his patrilateral brothers' grip over him. But being single as he was, and without his own replacement, meant that there will always be some other siblings and their replacements to ask for financial assistance. In effect, Ulaqayi managed to retain next to nothing of his hard-work fecundity. His jouissance was now turning into a self-deprivation and depression. The only support he had was his father's pre-mortem talk and pledge, and his mother, who now became the chief promulgator of her dead kwolyana's (old man's = husband's) authority and unheeded demands.


The critical experience in which Ulaqayi himself began to respond to the dead father's desire and the demand to give up his woman's hyiuwye took place some four months after his death. Burdened by his situation of self-loss he went one day to bemoan his predicament at his father's grave. He wept there and spoke to the father's invisible presence to the effect that his old mother was now making the same talk (i.e. demands) as he used to do, that she too will die, and that the brothers would not yield to his stipulations. It will be noted here that Ulaqayi remains self-posited in the passive-narcissistic position of his original omni/m/potence now escalating into the impotent modality. For he wants the brothers to enact the father's wish and bring Ulaqayi's fulfilment by finding a woman for him and therefore giving back that which they extracted from him with his willing consent, his money. Their demands on his work=money was in fact nothing else but their continuous recognition and acknowledgement of his foremost desire--to be fully affirmed and thus actualised as a woman. But presently Ulaqayi was no longer content with that circuit of self-satisfaction. Yet he had under no circumstances reached the point whereby he could forfeit his only self-identity--of being a woman--and embark on becoming a man.

Having offloaded some of his sorrow to the invisible dead father, he returned home where he fell asleep and had the following dream-vision:
 I saw the face of a man and I kept on looking at him thus; no! it
 is me, me now-my face I am looking at. It is me now, and I am a
 man--no! I became a woman, I was looking thus now and I thought
 thus--"Aiy! The father died, and before he died he told Ulqwa
 (Ulaqayi's elder brother) thus: "You find a woman for your little
 one (second-born younger brother)!" He told him thus but Ulqwa
 didn't hear his talk.

Ulaqayi understood this dream-vision as a showing made by his father's ilymane (spirit of the dead). He reiterated his father's talk (35) adding that he thinks that his father is angry with him because his brothers didn't heed his admonitions, didn't get a woman, and therefore he showed him this kind of dream vision. What is important to observe about this oneiric showing is in the first instance the crystal-clear auto-scopic articulation of Ulaqayi's self-image. He first sees the face of a man whom he soon recognises as himself being a man. Than his male self-identification flickers and he next sees himself as he always did, a woman. It is significant that the vision is focussed on the face which undergoes male>female transformation but in both he recognises himself as himself. His egoic selfidentity remains constant under the flickering transformation. To the extent that the dream-vision articulates a destabilisation and, indeed, a splitting of his self-image into male and female, it also shows that Ulaqayi has internalised (36) his father's demands as his support over against his brothers. This is greatly facilitated by the fact that his mother became the mouthpiece for the same paternal talk and demand, which is what he told his invisible father while weeping at his grave.

When I asked more about his oneiric woman-man change, Ulaqayi said that there was another, and clearly related, vision. Thus:
 I saw overhere (in the dream), I put on a woman's skirt and I came
 near the place where I was sleeping (i.e. his home at the time). I
 come, come (towards home)--and I dropped this skirt and I put on
 trousers. Aiy! I look thus: first overthere (I am) a woman; I came
 back (towards home) I became man. I saw it thus and I thought: "I
 think that my father--that is what he was talking about (while he
 was alive). He is doing it to me (because) he is angry and he is
 showing me this".

Here the same transformation is expressed but in a more acute imagery involving as vehicles skirt and trousers, emblematic of the female/male difference, and, as a correlate of the sexuation process, his movement from a distal place to his home. The imagery implies that he looks at himself as being in a starting position without a marked sexual attribute. He assumes it by putting on the skirt, which makes him a woman; then he advances towards the sleeping place, which is a womb-like space (37) and, therefore, suggests transformative regression. At that point he drops the skirt (his womanliness) and puts on trousers (assumes manliness). (38) Then what follows is a transitional rupture of the dream-experience into wakefulness, marked by his invocation of the father's talk, which has now become an additional means of his self-ratification that he will use against his brothers who have to fulfil his demands.

The dream-imagery is particularly revealing of his libidinal body-image. As constituted in his un/conscious and viewed by his observing intrapsychic egoity he appears objectified in full embodiment within the oneiric-space. The fact that his sexual transformation is articulated through attire is also a manifest expression of its general cultural significance, since Yagwoia explicitly see attire as the supplementation of bodily envelopment, thereby codetermining bodily sexedness and attribution. (39) Although in the dream his sexed identity flickers and changes as easily as he puts on and/or drops a skirt or trousers, it would be mistaken to see it as symptomatic of the fragility of his core-female self-identification which, on the other hand, is deeply somatized and expressed in his womanly habitus. I am inclined to think that the manifest splitting of his oneiric self-image may be indicative of his more tentative relation to his own actual male genital body image which, given Ulaqayi's professed desire to have a vagina, seems to be narcissistically weakly cathected. But by the same token, as an actual libidinal experience of his own desire, this ideal auto-contra-sexual (female) body-image would also completely utilise his penis as the appropriate erotogenic zone aroused in response to his imaginary vagina. Which is to say, there is no absence of genital excitation and pleasure in Ulaqayi's libidinal-erotogenic self-circuity, with or without an actual vagina, precisely because his libidinal embodiment is structured by its phallic (i.e., bisexual) dynamics and schematism. And as an authentic kwol-aaple, his incarnation of this determination was excessive, precisely because he subsumed within himself both his own and his mother's phallus as one and the same, and without a rupture.

What about that of his father? From everything I know about him, Ulaqayi at no point attempted to extract his father's bone (phallic power), but I can say that he did so in respect of his mother's to the extent that he is the incarnation of her phallic determination and that, thanks to his piglets, he could bear children like her. One has to be careful in assessing the significance of the splitting of his self-image in conjunction with his internalisation of his father's admonitions. It is clear enough, due to his father's ilymane (spirit of the dead), that perhaps for the first time in his life his soul was deeply affected by a different 'shine'-man's. But this kind of paternal illumination may well not be strong enough to penetrate, like a knife, the maternal ouroboric container within which Ulaqayi both hatched and remained preserved as the unidimensional man-woman that he was. Accordingly, the fate of this actual spirit father has to be comprehended within the psycho-ontological matrix generated by the Yagwoia ouroboric Self rather than, for instance, by Lacan's schemata of the subject and desire articulated in the lingual matrix of the Other. (40) Let us, therefore, follow further Ulaqayi's trajectory, especially in view of the fact that what became dominant in his internalisation of his father was his talk. Whatever Ulaqayi had to say about himself was framed in reference to his father's pre-mortem admonitions, which became, so to speak, a 'viaticum' for his son's life shadowed by the pledge that he (father's spirit) will kill the son if his brothers didn't fulfil his demand.

Commenting further on his dream-visions Ulaqayi not only repeatedly said what the old father was saying before he died but that now it is the old mother who is saying it again following the mouth of her old man. Furthermore, she is calling on both his brothers and sisters' husbands (kamba). The demand on the latter is most appropriate because a sister's husband (wife-taker) is deemed obliged, by virtue of reproducing himself through his wife-giver's sister, to provide the identical means for his woman's brother. He can then prod Ulaqayi's other brothers to join with him although they will try to remain deaf, expecting him (ZH) to do that which their father had charged them with. Ulaqayi told his mother that the old father used to tell his brothers the same as what she was now saying--and he died; therefore he was worried that she may also die. Accordingly she must not talk to them. If they will not do what the father demands, and if they will not return the money they took from him, then 'I can stay like this (i.e. like a woman and without a woman) and I can die'.

What has emerged here (in January 1999) is a somewhat modified mode of self-circuity in his intersubjective familial domain: a conjunction of his old mother's assumption of the paternal role shadowed by her pending death; him being condemned to remain a woman because of his brothers' refusal to get him a woman, and the threat of suicidal self-abandonment, itself underlined by the paternal pledge of his death. For the next twelve months this was to become his mode of generating and articulating his self-value and, in effect, his jouissance. The father's spirit became his approving self-object, while reciprocally Ulaqayi turned himself into the mouthpiece of his father's--I can say--objective will, reinforced as such by his paternal spirit's occasional dream visitation.


As mentioned above, earlier on he was living for a while at his MZS (classificatory matrilateral brother) place but by December 1999 he was living again at his mother's homestead where he undertook to build a house by himself, this being a way of demonstrating that he wanted, however tentatively, to get ready for a woman and, thereby, make himself into a man. When at the time l asked his mother (Ulawa) whether Ulaqayi was likely to change, she emphasised that she has now become like an old man (i.e. as her husband), implying that her talk and demands have his authority. She relished her maleness and the power she felt she could now claim or, for that matter, act out. For instance, she boasted how she scolded her youngest (fifth-born, ulaki) sister's husband when he abused her. Ulawa seized and threatened him with a log telling him if he thought that she was a woman so that he could abuse her sister in her (his WZ) presence?! She is like a man and she wasn't going to allow him to do such things while she is around. (41)

There was an uninhibited cock-sure self-confidence about his old mother--or better mother-father, as she expounded on how she insisted that he comes to live with her and 'build a house for the two of us'. He follows the word (talk) that she gives him and does the work. It was a promising move. The idea is that if he does some manly work then he may become one. But the mother motivates him by saying that the house, in the first instance, is for him and her; whether it will enwomb an altogether different womb (woman) is very much in question. It is significant that while talking about all the admonishments to both her elder son and the sons by her husband's first wife, she also invoked the latter's fourth son who has been absent from the area since March 1996. She categorically defined all the married brothers as the 'big-ones' (neima'/t/nye qwoqwolouqwa) and 'like-the-father' (kanda tkace qwoqwolo) whose responsibility was to supply the young ones with women. She was as relentless in her demands as her late husband, who, in a sense, she now was, but the big-ones too carried on in the same vein--heedless.

Prior to a visit to his mother's place I heard about Ulaqayi's house building from a boy and his father who is married to one of Ulaqayi's four sisters. (42) They laughed while reporting how Ulaqayi carried house-building timber as if it were firewood. This is what women do. I also saw him dragging several long poles in the manner of a woman, by holding their ends with both hands on the head instead of tying them together and carrying them on the shoulder which is how a man does it. They voiced a common disbelief that Ulaqayi could succeed. However, his other sister's husband, PH, felt sorry for him and came to help him to cover the roof with pandanus leaves. (43) As he did so he used the opportunity to berate Ulaqayi's brothers for not doing anything to help their struggling brother. He said that although they look (44) at his money they wouldn't show him how to build a house. It is all right that Ulaqayi doesn't know it because he is like a woman and he never tried to do man's work. But if they (as men) would show him so he will follow them and later on will be able to do it by himself. This too didn't rub off on any of Ulaqayi's brothers which made him ever more embittered but also vindicated in his angry self-exultation and narcissistically sorrowful serf-concern.

The fundamental frame of reference is his brothers and their negation of his demands. His rage is fuelled by their refusal to deliver a woman and qua her his money, his 'strength', fecundity, and I can quite appositely say, his paternal 'bone'. His demand is not void but stems from his very substance, which they are withholding for their own libidinal-appetitive ends. Having stated his misery and frustration, he said that he thinks (i.e. his soul makes him do so) of doing the same thing as some men do, seizing a woman and fucking (i.e. raping) her. But then again he thinks this is a foul behaviour (hyiuwye) and he dismisses it. 'Everyone says--"he is like a woman". I don't think about anything else but working in the garden. But now my thought is--I will also do that which some other men do (i.e. rape). Then later again I think--this is a foul way, I must not do such a thing. I can stay (as I am, a woman) until the two mothers die, then I can go to some place (i.e. alien territory where he can perish), if my brothers don't feel sorrowful concern'.

Here he clearly expresses both his symbiotic rage and defence against it. Feeling quite trapped in his womanliness as affirmed by everyone, he would want to affirm himself as some men do, by raping a woman and thus if not exactly proving himself to be possessed of masculine power, he can show that he is fed up with his brothers' disregard. It seems that in this self-projection he is attacking his own female self-image and everything that she contains--namely the whole of himself. But regardless of whether he would recognise it in these terms, he rejects this course of action as entirely unacceptable to him. First and last he is a dutiful woman, and as a part of the same equation, he reconsolidates himself through narcissistic self-negation: he will first bury his two mothers and after them himself.

Nevertheless, when asked what specifically he would do if he got a woman, he said that he would teach her how to be a good, hard working woman (like himself). With a mixture of reticence and self-pleasing definitiveness, he candidly elaborated on how he wouldn't let her do all the work by herself but that they two would do it together--looking after pigs, garden, carrying food, and all. (45) This view of conjugal coupling was fully consonant with his own self-image and ratified by his father's demand (seconded by his MB and M) that the brothers should find a hard working woman, on a par with him. In short, a doppelganger. He also said that he was ready to produce a replacement (child) with her.

However, on reflection, Ulaqayi desired no concrete woman and furthermore there really was no specific woman willing to live with him while the payment for her could be made later. The woman Ulaqayi demanded was primarily an ideality serving the function of his self-affirmation vis-a-vis his brothers who avoid admitting the fact that they depended on him and that, if anything, he is their very strength, a sort of mother-and-father fused in one person, their man-woman brother. As we shall see below, he himself came to formulate this position. As for the woman of his demand, as opposed to the one of his desire (of which he had none but his one and only mother and through her himself), she was primarily the other face of his libidinal self-substance (and jouissance), namely his money and as such himself as eaten and digested by his brothers, for they all ate plenty of pork and other goods, got wives, bore children. The availability of this veritable femme fatale, the double of Ulaqayi's own self-image, depended entirely on his brothers' concern for him, a wholly negative formation, a hole hallowed by their preferred dependence on his work and money since they primarily desired and pursued the fulfilment of their own appetites and wants. And the way this intersubjective self-circuity of their respective egoities became consolidated clearly showed that no change was likely to occur in it. True, the father's presence as spirit, who as yet communicates only in Ulaqayi's dreams, has now been doubly amplified by the living word promulgated by their man-woman matriarch. However her effective power doesn't go beyond such theatrics as a log threat to her aged sister's husband.


Now Ulaqayi's mother told him that if his brothers don't get him a woman, alter she has died and become a spirit, she too will take him away (i.e. kill him). No matter how threatening this may appear, what she primarily achieved with this was to consolidate her own symbiotic grip on him. And, vice versa, his own suicidal pronouncements feed into and bind him ever more strongly to both her and the paternal presence that she embodies. He will lose her only to refind and reunite with her for good, in a seeming death. I say seeming because what is manifest here is a symbiotic melancholia whose sole object is the preservation of the fusion with the primordial maternal self-object. The professed abandonment of oneself to death is but a recapturing of that primal ouroboric self-union with the maternal object and through her of his own self-ideality. The desired death is but avoidance of separation from her, and thus of the rupturing (castration) of his own phallic wholeness and fecundity that he has managed to preserve all his life, even if his father's spirit had momentarily managed to cleave it. In truth, the promise of this death was that there was neither a final death nor birth, but a return into the maternal ouroboric womb. Indeed, from the perspective of their cultural imaginal matrix this much is true of every Yagwoia death (see Mimica 2003a).

All this does nothing more but to reinforce the entire field of dependencies in which every egoity is differentially eating and copulating with every other in order to sustain his/her self for and in each one of them (see Mimica 1991). Given this ouroboric self-closure of the intersubjective field, in which Ulaqayi was ensnared yet producing in the process a unique endo-dimensional articulation of its phallic dynamics, (46) he is doing as best as he can and in the way he knows the best, namely as a woman who is attempting to actualise her other shine, the shine of man, by trying to do the man's work under the faithful gaze of his mother, doubled now by the person of her frail sister, therefore his two mothers.

When Ulaqayi first started talking about suicide (January 1999) he envisaged a scenario of going into an alien region where he would then be killed by rascals. In the same period he said that both his father and mother appear in his dreams admonishing him. When his mother figures in his dreams, he also cries to her. What this indicates is that in Ulaqayi's un/conscious the maternal and paternal imagos are almost equipollent. They sustain the same symbiotic self-circuity which, although generative of depressive and melancholic affect, is not corrosive of his ego but feeds and reinforces his overall narcissistic equilibrium. Within it, the fraternal negation is his intrinsic and, in a sense, necessary mirror-negative vis-a-vis which Ulaqayi claims his own self-ideal. This is so precisely because the brothers are the ones who have incorporated his fecundity (money) and hence they are the object and conduit of his libidinal-narcissistic self-circuity. Therefore, only they can affirm him in his passive-activity, his demand that they give back his very own self-substance. The more they deny it, the greater his self-value (and jouissance). This is the core of Ulaqayi's feminine masochistic position which could be perpetuated ad infinitum, and in fact that was the trajectory that he couldn't abandon.


During the visit in December 1999 he gave the following and, in a sense, the final account in which the dialectic of symbiotic dependencies exhausted itself through a complete reversal of values. He said that he has become like a mother to his brothers as he works in gardens, looks after their pigs, gives them money, and so on, but they don't think about him. Well then, he'll wait until his two mothers die and then he'll go to some place where the rascals can kill him. He told his brothers 'I bought the women for you (47) but you are not concerned about me. You must return my money and get a woman for me. If you don't, when the two mothers die I'll bury them and run away from you'. Yet again, '"You must gather the money I gave you and find a woman", I told them; "You cannot look at me" [i.e. eat and depend on me] I am a woman. I have no money on my skin. While I looked after the pig you bought yourselves women. [Like] the money you gave for your children's tuakle [i.e. prestation due to children's maternal relatives, principally the maternal uncles] you can gather and get a woman for me. Now I am not willing to stay void [waiting]'.

The emerging picture is as overwhelming as it is accurate. Ulaqayi has elevated himself into the position of his brothers' supreme feeder, the mother through whose fecund work they can sustain themselves and their progeny. Hence the particular weight of his last demand where he insinuates that the life-payments his brothers made to their children's maternal relatives are in tact his money which is why they should make the same effort to pull together the money to get him a woman. Through this equation Ulaqayi makes himself at once his brothers' mother, to whom they are insuperably indebted, and their infant child, for whose life they are indebted to their wife-givers who are the child's mothers. In every mode, he is the great giver of his (48) own life-substance and now demands it all back. And there is no question that on all accounts, both through his own work and through his four sisters, for whom he got no share of bride-price, Ulaqayi's womanliness has caught up with them. As men, their 'bone' is not up to his strength, and as a consequence, there are some reversals to issue from this conjunction.

Regarding the spouses of his brothers, Ulaqayi told them that he was fed up with their lazy women, meaning that he therefore has to work even harder for their benefit. The woman that he wanted them to get for him should be like himself, not like their wives. He also complained about his older brother's wife who quarrelled with her 'grandmother', (49) that is, his own mother. He was also supported by his true ZH (Wayonya) who married Ulaqayi's same birth-order (second) and therefore his true sister. Wayonya also scolded Ulaqayi's elder brother's wife for quarrelling with her 'grandmother' but the real reference was to Ulaqayi. Wayonya said that the latter is the one who is looking after all of them, especially in respect of the pigs (and therefore the money). He underscored that they as a whole are not hard working and that they all depend on him for the garden work, pigs, and so forth. They are not fit to take care of people. But if they look after him he will look after them all. With these pronouncements Wayonya, as reported by Ulaqayi, clearly reinforced his position as being identical to his mother as the matriarch of the entire sibling group (i.e. by their dead father's both wives), precisely because all the brothers at some stage made use of Ulaqayi's fecundity. The final implications of this position were spelled out by Ulaqayi himself when reporting on his other ZH's support.

As we saw, PH had helped Ulaqayi with house-building. He also berated the latter's brothers, saying among other things that Ulaqayi bought them their women yet they wouldn't show him how to build a house. He thus accentuated the paternal aspect of their dependence since buying a woman is normatively the father's duty and, in the same key, they would not help him in his manly endeavour to build a house. Moreover, PH went on to say that they should return, in the sense of reciprocation, Ulaqayi's money by finding quickly a woman for him. PH would assist them by adding 200 Kina of his own to the amount which they should come up with, in addition to some 300 Kina that was supposedly left over from Ulaqayi's fourth sister's bride-price eaten in the main by his older brother. To this gesture of his faithful kamba's Ulaqayi responded by saying: 'I am the only one who is giving same as the penis does; you talk about them as if they had money. But have they got money!? Meat and everything else I alone (habitually) give them. What about this?! [i.e., they aren't capable of giving back], I told him so'.

As he was reporting on this exchange with his ZH a self-satisfied grin appeared on Ulaqayi's face, mirrored by us who were listening to him, for he was asserting the fundamental truth of his relationship with his brothers and all their women. The phrase rendered as 'giving as (50) a penis' expresses the phallic-copulatory determination of all giving-eating activity. What Ulaqayi asserted is that his brothers are the ones who are fed and provisioned by him and, as such, he fucks them. Accordingly, they all are like his women, ingesting meat and whatever else they take from him whereas he, by contrast, is like a penis, the injecting man and the giving hand.

Then and there ensued a sense of an accomplished turn-around of a circle which in that moment also effected a semblance of its self-revolution. What was up came down, the left became right, and Ulaqayi, squatting there in the cooking shelter in the company of his mother, for once emitted a glimmer of his alternative--male--shine as he declared himself to be the only penis-like fons et origio within the circuity of his fraternally mediated self-substance. He indeed spoke the truth of his selfhood, hitherto so greedily sucked by others. He thereby also recaptured his very own modicum of verbal jouissance: the blazing assertion of the plenitude of his brothers' impotence and empty-handedness. For, as he victoriously underscores, they can't produce money and get him a woman because they haven't got any of their own libidinal substance. They only take and eat; he alone is the one who hitherto has filled them with that which he now demands to be replaced in and as his self-substance. As such he alone is the truth and substance of their greedy selves. But by the same token, this self-affirmation as his brothers' sole penile provider, and his self-fulfilment effected in that moment, were nothing more than the echo of his own expatiation. What he said to please himself was what he also got--the sound of his words and words alone (51) mirrored by his appreciative company.


Ulaqayi's situation didn't change. In 2003 he was living with his mother at her homestead, in Qang's words, still as same as he always was--a woman: (52) No other woman came to inhabit the house=womb that he had built three years earlier in the hope that his brothers would, as it were, usher her in. Regarding the fate of his father's spirit I am sure that it became his permanent acquisition. In the period between December 1999-January 2000 he had two dream visitations from his father, one before and one after I and Qang visited him at his mother's homestead. Just below it there was the old man's grave-pit. In the first dream visitation, his father asked him about his living again with his mother and reiterated his demands. Ulaqayi in turn told him that if his brothers wouldn't yield he would bury his two old mothers and then himself. But a few days later Ulaqayi came to tell me and Qang that his father again visited him and told him that he watched us talking to him. I immediately realised that what was about to follow will be directed at both of us. Thus, and most significantly, Ulaqayi said that his father told him that he (Ulaqayi) will remain as he is and will no longer change (i.e. become more of a man). Therefore, why does Jadran keep asking him about his change. While saying this Ulaqayi irradiated an aura of self-confidence and spiteful self-satisfaction. I have no doubts that Ulaqayi sensed that he had to affirm his femaleness against me. For as I was getting to know him I felt that 'she' was devouring him. Under the circumstances, 'she' effectively deprived him of both the possibility of experiencing flesh-to-flesh sex with another person (male or female) and of gaining more out of his monetary fecundity. I did hope that in his struggle the 'he' in him would outdo 'her' rather than remain subject to 'her' desire. But Ulaqayi didn't, and for that purpose he got his father's spirit to tell me so.

There was a clear sense that he felt secure about his femaleness which, so it seemed, had received a full paternal imprimatur. What it also meant is that in his un/conscious Ulaqayi had actually gained the upper hand in relation to his paternal imago which no longer had a self-alien intentionality. The initially conflictual and intrusive assimilation of the father's presence in the un/conscious, which effected Ulaqayi's female--male splitting and self-destabilisation, has been re-equilibrated in favour of his overwhelming maternal-female self-image. It would seem that his maternal phallic self was now, so to speak, triply reinforced since apart from himself and his mother, the father also became ingested by his maternal ouroboric un/conscious within which Ulaqayi's original self-ideality remained enthroned. In the same vein, the father's presence reinforces the phallic self-circuity between Ulaqayi and his mother, since she too commands the old man's word but qua and as her own self-image rather than in and for his own self.

Ulaqayi further reported that in the same dream his father told him to ask me and Qang whether we had some thought for him (Ulaqayi), meaning whether we would assist him financially with the acquisition of a woman. In this regard Qang felt particularly entailed because he was Ulaqayi's classificatory agnatic brother. It is significant that Ulaqayi now gave a distinctively passive inflection to his father's dream-talk. The father told him that he will watch over him, waiting to see if all the big ones (i.e. older brothers) will deliver or not the money for his woman. No menacing threat of his final solution (to kill Ulaqayi) was invoked implying that, at least for a while, Ulaqayi was willing to enjoy impassively and without suicidal enunciations the great waiting for fraternal delivery of his woman, and qua her, of his male self. After all, he had sell-affirmed himself as their victorious penile feeder. There was, however, an important shift in this circuity since Ulaqayi said that his father also appeared in his older brother's dream and scolded him for just looking at Ulaqayi (i.e. eating his money and fecundity). The old man also threatened him that he would execute the mortal pledge to kill Ulaqayi if his demands were not heard.

Unfortunately, neither at the time nor subsequently did I manage to speak to Ulqwa (Ulaqayi's elder brother) and find out what were the ramifications of his lather's dream visitation. What is important is that the dead father's presence was no longer just articulated by Ulaqayi's un/conscious but also by his greedy brother who had hitherto resisted all the father's demands as promulgated by his mother and the two sister's husbands. Such a new opening in the oneiric sphere of intersubjectivity may not only facilitate the diminution of one dreamer's monopoly over the father spirit's communication but, also, can give it a new direction. For the will and the desires of the spirits who are eager to enter into a communicative relation with dreamers may also, in the process, become influenced and transformed by the desire and will of the dreamers themselves. And this particular father's spirit may well come to espouse an altogether different tack on his sons' intersubjective field of desires and demands.


The last time I saw and talked with Ulaqayi was in January 2007. He had abandoned the house that he built in the hope that this would get him a woman. For some time he had been living at his classificatory male mother's homestead (MBS) while his aging mother remained at her old place about thirty minutes-walk away. His situation hasn't changed. His male mother takes advantage of his labour powers which have now become superlative and of which he is as proud as ever. But for all his hard work he gets no money from this male mother which prompted Qang to reprimand him for letting himself continue being exploited. The truth is that for Ulaqyi this has become his fundamental mode of sustaining his self-value. He chose this residence in order to distance himself from his brothers: 'They didn't restore my payment so I am staying on my own' (that is to say, with his male mother).

His fraternal intersubjectivity has become a memorial ossuary to his atrophied desire and the demand for the restitution of his money that would have ostensibly enabled him to obtain a woman. When asked whether his father was still appearing in his dreams, he said that it had happened only once. The father's spirit too had nothing new to say except to ask--'Did they return your money?' and to repeat his stipulation that the bride-price for the fourth sister should go to Ulaqayi. This Ulaqayi, yet again, duly conveyed to his elder brother. This one has for some time been living in a remote forest region where traditionally some Iqwaye and Iwolaqa-Malyce kept a few forest gardens. (53) Ulaqayi said that he 'run away there' because of his continual demands. However, it is clear that all his brothers (by his father's both wives) have found the solution to this when they told him: 'Don't talk to us about the payment. You are the one who grows pigs so efficiently, you get money [in exchange for pigs] and find your payment thus'.

Ulaqayi's reputation for pig-raising has become so well established that, he said, other people (i.e., not relatives) ask him to look after their pigs and he duly obliges. With this framing Ulaqayi emphasises his dutiful goodness which he indiscriminately lavishes upon others. In the same vein, he told me how he feeds men, women, and children--whoever happens to come to his place. As Qang remarked to him--'(Ciqa) kalye maye' (You are without the vital internal organs), meaning that he doesn't feel and therefore is oblivious to how much of his own bodily substance he is giving away qua food, work and such. More so than ever before, I felt that this emphasis on his over-effluent generosity and sorrowful concern, itself thought of as an emotion generated by the internal vital organs (kalye) (apart from offsetting his goodness against his greedy brothers) was also an anxious mode of sustaining his self-esteem and self-relevance mediated by others.
 All men (and) women (habitually) come to sleep with me, come to
 eat. They all come, I give them food, and they know to endear me.
 "You are a good man". If I get something--meat and such, it doesn't
 matter if the brothers are not good to me, I say--"you come and
 eat". I know to do so but my brothers don't take pity on me, so I
 am staying by myself (i.e., with his MBS). They don't think--"He is
 looking after our children while we are going around, so we must
 buy him a woman quickly and he can stay with her. No. So I am
 staying here".

This omni-generosity, empathy, and the desire to feed others is simultaneously a way of implanting himself in them, thereby making them indebted while, reciprocally, he depends on them for generating his own self-worth. For, a vital aspect of his sell-image is that he is a great provider, no matter how much he has been self-dispossessed by his own greedy brothers. If they are a black hole within his field of self-circuity he is its mirror-image. For all the nought that is in them there is always more self-substance to come out of him.

He said that there was a particular woman who wanted him very much to take her. He emphasised that she was impressed by his hard work and strength but he had to turn her down because he had no money to pay for her. Even his sister and PH, his kamba (ZH), were compelled to call, yet again, on his brothers to come up with some money for this woman was so willing, but all in vain. 'So I said: It doesn't matter. I can stay thus, work and cook at the stone-oven for the boys (children at the homestead)'.

While listening to him I sensed that intra-psychically, or to put it in Yagwoia terms, his soul has become modified. The experience of sell-splitting, induced by his paternal dream, has in some way masculinised him. He has thereby internalised his father's demand and thus assumed a certain minimal semblance of himself as a man, in the sense of 'wearing trousers' as in the dream, although on the present occasion he actually wore a sarong. In terms of his own discursive self-presentation, this masculine quality came across as he confidently boasted about being stronger than any woman and/or man who might attempt to outdo him in gardening and carrying heavy loads. He said that if a man would try to compete with him in gardening he would quickly push him to the very edge of the garden as he rapidly advanced through the area allocated for planting plots. So, he also experiences himself as a man who qua his feminine domain can take on and beat any other man. And in this determination he is also gratified that a particular woman wants to be with him--because of his hard work and the fact that he doesn't behave as most men by going around playing cards.

As for that woman's desire for him, I have no doubts that his report is genuine. It is very probable that she might want to couple with him precisely on the account of his outstanding garden work and pig-rearing. I can reasonably assume that the issue of what he could offer her sexually wouldn't take precedence over his domestic and gardening prowess, which in that mode also manifests his bodily-libidinal potency, his very own fecundity. The latter is equipollent with the former. But from the fact that he unequivocally and persistently excused himself from taking her or, perhaps the other way around, allowing himself to join her, indicates that she figures primarily as a gratification for his own self-idealisation. Any other Yagwoia man would take advantage of such an offer without hesitation and later worry about the payment. Not so Ulaqayi; he is gratified, but his soul remains firmly and faithfully cast in the image of his hard-working, feminine self. Such is the overall impact of his father's spirit on his soul. This masculine presence is but a weak graft on the unyielding umbilical nexus of his maternal-feminine sell-identity.

What about the fate of his sexual desire'? On two occasions he was drawn to a few boys to fondle their genitals. The kids reported it to their mothers who in turn sought counsel from Qang. They intended to bring this matter to the local court but he judged that they shouldn't press the matter. He saw Ulaqayi's behaviour as being at odds with the customs of the place, therefore improper, (54) but it didn't warrant a court hearing. Perhaps he sensed that this was akin to PH's own engagement with Ulaqayi, and therefore the repercussions for the latter could be equally dire. Qang advised the boys' mothers to keep an eye on Ulaqayi and to keep their children away from him. It seems to me quite clear that Ulaqayi's action was primarily experienced as nebulous rather than as an outright reprehensible 'moral' outrage. (55)

Although I don't have any phantasy material of his to go by, this episode indicates clearly enough the infantile libidinal sway of his maternal-feminine self-image. I am inclined to think that perhaps Ulaqayi himself would be at a loss as to what had motivated him. In all these years, unlike so many ordinary male and female Yagwoia, he has not been actively pursuing himself through his own action, fuelled by his own erotic desire, and actualised with a concrete partner in reciprocal terms. Accordingly, I can say that he has erotically neglected himself and that he is split off from this thwarted dimension of his self. There is a glaring deprivation in his existence of the active erotic self-other libidinal experience and identifications which only concrete engagements with others can generate. But I don't know how he has assimilated this experience following the overt disapproval with which it was met.

I think that in terms of his unconscious selfhood that subsists and suffers its fate underneath and beyond his self-conscious egoity, he was not concerned with the boys in their concrete individuality as sexual partners, but in what their genitals represent within his unconscious subjectivity. Within this purview, they are part-objects. Precisely as the little ones, their embodiment has the libidinal value of his infantile phallus. In this context, it would not be the attraction to the mature embodiment of male sexuality but to the phallus as the umbilical softness which, pars pro toto, appresents the containment within the maternal embodiment and the sphere of the un/conscious that this imago mediates. More than any other mode of libidinal pulsion, the erotic desire generated from within such a matrix would be primarily a separation anxiety which seeks assuagement in its primordial maternal container. The act itself struck me as a way of assuaging anxiety and only as such could it produce a sense of contentment. Such a self primarily desires and lives itself in its ouroboric dual self-unity and identity of the containing mother and her baby-phallus. (56) This would be the character of the desire drawn to the immature genitals rather than those of a potent man. Although it involves another, immature person, this action can be seen as a transposition of an autoerotic mode of genital self-fondling and precisely as such its overall libidinal value is that of pre-genital oral self-containment whose primordial proto-type is the loving, self-reciprocal mouth-to face mutual consummation of the mother and her baby.

A development of this pre-genital erotic subjectivity could be along a trajectory where one would maintain a sense of himself as an omnipotent phallic mother vis-a-vis which little boys would be Her children subordinated to Her desire and will. This might be a scenario of Ulaqayi's desire were he to create a permanent context of engagements with young boys which, of course, is not a possibility, especially in the present day libidinal economy of Yagwoia socio-sexual arrangements (57) which, in addition, are open to the interventions derived from the legal code of the Papua New Guinea state. Be that as it may, the episode affirms that the erotic fate of Ulaqayi's soul is its maximal domination by his maternal and thus child imagos that define his^her self. Not that he is in the 'shadow of the maternal object' but She is him^her, the Ulaqaya-aqulaqa as Qang pointedly referred to him. By choosing the second-born female birth order suffix (-aqulaqa) Qang indicated that Ulaqayi is primarily a woman. Or, as the Yagwoia see it--his soul got illuminated by the shine of all women and nothing could divest her of this originary bedazzlement consummated through his surrogate porcine procreativity.


A shorter version of this work was presented in the departmental seminars at the Universities of Sydney, Melbourne, and Western Australia, Nedlands. I thank all the participants in these seminars for their critical comments. I am also grateful to the participants in the psychoanalytic seminar organised by Olga Katchan of the Department of Psychology, University of Sydney, for their critical comments. I also thank my wife Ute Eickelkamp for her critical assessment of and comments on the paper. I am especially thankful to Neil Maclean and the Oceania staff at Sydney for their editorial and technical work which brought this paper to its final form. I also gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Australian Research Council (ARC) which enabled me to continue with my research in Papua New Guinea for several years. I am especially grateful to The Ann and Erlo Van Waveren Foundation of New York whose grant allowed me to continue my field research on Yagwoia shamanism after my ARC grant ended. Finally, I am grateful to the Yagwoia people, especially Iqwaye and Iwolaqa-Malyce for letting me explore their life-world, which is to say, themselves as they are inside and outside the circuity of their macrocosmic Self (Imacoqwa). Among them, my heart-felt gratitude goes to Hiwoye, Wopaye, and Qwace u/ngwatanye.


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Jadran Mimica

University of Sydney


(1.) For my usage of ^, see Mimica, 2006:31. The reason for my oscillating gender reference (pronominal and nominal) to this person will become apparent in this introductory section. All names used in this study are fictional constructions based on syllables and morphological combinations that occur in the Yagwoia language.

(2.) For the Yagwoia notion of the soul and its luno-solar generation from which derives their notion of spirit indicated here, see Mimica (2003a, 2006).

(3.) In Tok Pisin this kind of person is called tanim man (turned = changed, transformed man). One will rarely hear this expression in use among the Yagwoia because such persons are virtually non-existent. Among the Yagwoia there are no hermaphrodites as among the Sambia (Buising, p.c. 1979: Gajdusek, 1964; 1979, Herdt, 1992, 1996, Herdt and Davidson, 1988; Herdt and Stoller, 1985; Miller et al. 1990). Some Yagwoia who spent time in Mw. came to know about these tanim man as a characteristic of the Sambia. For instance, Qang used this expression specifically in reference to the Sambia he saw in Mw and compared them to his classificatory agnatic brother Ulaqayi. The only Yagwoia who, upon a visit to a Menya speaking territorial group, saw a child hermaphrodite (with ambiguous genitalia) were one of my Iqwaye informants and his wife. He averred that he never saw or heard of a similar instance among the Yagwoia. The only other instance of a man similar to but not quite like Ulaqayi was an Iwolaqa-Malyce man whom I briefly discuss below. For a general background on the Yagwoia, see Mimica (1991).

(4.) Ten years earlier I recorded his name while conducting a systematic census of the entire area. His father and father's brother belonged to a territorial group which was routed by the Iqwaye and their Menya speaking allies Pataye in the course of the first half of the twentieth century. As young men they lived in an area occupied by an Angave group and were brought into Iwolaqa-Malycaane by a local warrior of repute. Here, land is plentiful and the population is only about 1,200. Ulaqyi's father doesn't own land here and has mainly planted on his two wives' patti-group's (latice) land. His sons continue to do so, i.e. planting on their maternal uncles' land.

(5.) What is in the vernacular called hyiuwye and in Tok Pisin 'pasin' (fashion, style), 'kastum', also applies to 'ritual', 'custom', 'customary behaviour'. Furthermore, whether it is a habitual behaviour, customary or an altogether ephemeral idiosyncratic manifestation but which, nevertheless, has its distinctive and noticeable character; whether it is a practice such as the 'making of man' (initiations) or routine curing performances, such as water application onto the afflicted part of the body, or a quirky idiosyncrasy exhibited by any particular individual, all of these behaviours would qualify as a certain kind of hyiuwye. It is best rendered, relative to a particular instance and context as 'behavioural whole/repertoire/characteristic/concentrate'.

(6.) A variant of several phrases aapala qwonepa, aapala:pa,aapala:pana or aapale taqace pala; meaning woman-similar, same-as, like, kind-of.

(7.) The only other Yagwoia known to have enacted the woman's hyiuwye did so not to the exclusion of his male characteristics. Thus, he was nose-pierced, wore male attire, used bow and arrows, hunted, etc. The only female things that he did was cooking and working in the garden in the same way as all women do. He wasn't void of his male behavioural repertoire but, as one of my informants explained, did both the men's and women's work. One can say that, by contrast, Ulaqayi is mono-dimensional.

(8.) In all systematic conversations that I had with Ulaqayi, who only speaks the vernacular, I was assisted by Qang, my chief informant and co-worker of many years.

(9.) The reduplication -pupu (I mark it as ft)also figures in counting as the marker of a whole, unit. What is specifically implied is a sense of self-closure and self-completeness, i.e. being de-limited and defined (see Mimica 1988).

(10.) This usage indicates that I make no a priori assumption as to how and in what mode, if at all, something is unconscious in a given field of experience. This calibration varies between individuals and life-worlds, as well as between different periods within one and the same life-world. For a more detailed discussion see Mimica 2006:31-32; 54 ft21; also 2003a; 2007b:78-79.

(11.) For details, see Mimica 1981, 1991, 2007b, and the next footnote.

(12.) I here mean the conception of the ouroboric phallic gestalt. This phallus is bisexual and determines the sexuation of both male and female embodiment (Mimica 1981, 1991, 2006, 2007b; for a detailed elucidation of its determination see, 2003b:22-26.). Phallus is not to be identified with the penis or, for that matter, vagina although both and a number of other bodily parts (including the breast and the umbilicus), as well as the entire body, can be configured as a phallic gestalt. In the Jungian metapsychological framework, the maternal phallus that Ulaqayi incarnates is the total oral-incorporative identification with his ouroborically determined contra-sexual, anima image which also contains within herself his maternal imago.

(13.) Ye'na, nga tela nyumnagyice kwomalyeqwo'/t/ni mimananga hyewa, kwomalye qwondaqa euwlanga toqwa, aapalmalyeqwo'/t/ne imanengiye tewa.

(14.) This is a very appropriate metaphor because the Yagwoia do regard and think of the illuminative power of thought-soul as the solar-ray which like at day-break breaks out of the bowels of the night. This image has a factual aspect since in view of the Yagwoia notions about that which we call 'mentation', cognition is due to the microcosmic solar-streaming (animation) which generates intellection. It is a veritable noetic energy.

(15.) Ye'na', nga kwolo-(qw)o'/t/ni tka-eulwdaqa. Aapala--aapalo(qw)o'/t/ni, aapaloqwondaqa yeuwmaqace. Yaqalye-yengli hiquye naqaye(ti), kwole(qw)o '/t/nyeqa manyu '/t/nye.

(16.) neuwyaqwolde kace-outa'/t/ni mdana(qa)'ni. 'Net-bag' subsumes amniotic sac = uterus = womb.

(17.) These are suffixed with terms which specify characteristic colouring of pig's hide, plus gender markers.

(18.) The repertoire of movements and actions comprising the Yagwoia mothers' handling of specifically their baby-sons includes, among others, a very short, brisk and playful pulling of the penis. Its emotional intentionality struck me primarily as teasing because of a delicate fusion of aggressiveness and gentleness that this action irradiates although, undoubtedly, this varies from one mother to another and from one occasion to another. This particular aspect is significant in relation to the overall nexus of meanings of the child as phallus in the Yagwoia cultural life-world where pregnancy is categorically seen as the woman 'having (or being filled with) the penis' in the stomach ('aapala lakice cuwye tenecaqa'; see Mimica 1981). In my limited experience of Ulaqayi's interactions with babies, I didn't see him exercising this particular action. Be that as it may, this aspect of the Yagwoia adult-infant interaction fades away into insignificance when compared with the overt erotic modalities of the primal relationships in some other New Guinea life-worlds (eg. Gillison 1993:176; Poole 1983, 1985).

(19.) This concept specifies the economy of the archaic narcissistic equilibrium in which, due to its extreme mirror-schizoid bivalency, symbiotic omnipotence and impotence are equipollent and conterminous. Briefly, archaic omnipotence is irreducibly bi-polar; the more one exceeds in one direction, say superiority, the more s/he is predisposed to be menaced by its counterpoint, abject impotence and its correlates, excessive aggrandisement and defensiveness. Hence the term 'omni/m/potence' for this archaic narcissistic dynamism as it is inherently bi-valent (see Mimica 2003b:27).

(20.) The Yagwoia house is universally identified as human body. It is the generative womb=stomach container. The door-passage is the mouth=face while the interior side diametrically opposite to it is male. The two lateral sections, the 'rib-cage sides' are female. A married man as such never owns a house but the wife for whom he builds it. A polygamist has to build each wife her own house. Man's main preparation for getting a woman is to build a house into which she can be placed. The idea is that in order to have a womb for making children man should first get the womb to house both himself (the penis) and his womb-container (woman). This image is entirely predicated as a container-contained circuity between the two part=wholes (penis-womb) contained within the container (house) but which as such is erected by man (see Mimica 2007a:96-97).

(21.) In all years of my research I only knew two Iqwaye women both of whom, following the break up of their marriages, decided to live with their children independently of any marital arrangements with men. One of them also had her own coffee plot. However, they both depended on their brothers for the man's share of garden-work and the plots they tended were within their brothers' fence. One of the women's brothers was most unhappy with this arrangement and used to castigate his sister for depriving him of affinal relations. For him she was a bad "bisnis" which is the Tok Pisin label that gained currency among the Yagwoia especially in respect of matrifilial and affinal domains of relatedness constituted through exchange.

(22.) The stock-in-trade term and concept of Kohut's self-psychology (Kohut 1971, 1977) specifies the vital dynamics of the primary relations (especially with the mother) where the object (mother) is not yet experienced as differentiated and separate from the self (infant). This matrix will determine the structuration and vicissitudes of the self and its narcissistic equilibrium. Although conterminous with Kohutian self-psychology, the concept has a much longer history and the term itself was coined by Giovacchini (1967 as quoted by Grotstein) in the context of Freud's formulations of the dialectics of the identification process (Grotstein, 1983). See also, Jacoby 1990; Coen 1981.

(23.) Here it is important to stress that, in respect of the basic endo-exo dimensionality of Yagwoia social dynamics, Ulaqayi's womanhood has entrapped him entirely within the endo-dimensional web of relatedness, which shows its acute downside, namely his structural inability to be the master of the wealth that he himself is producing (see further, ft. 45).

(24.) Since the Yagwoia cross-sex siblings are rigorously paired in terms of their same birth-order, there is a graduated differentiation between any given ZH and his WB. The man married to one's same birth-order sister is the primary ZH and vice-versa, the latter is the primary WB. The man in question was married to Ulaqayi's third-born sister but there was no third-born and fourth-born brother in the wife's sibling set. Therefore he was, so to speak, an open ZH to both his wife's brothers.

(25.) This is a trade-mark aspect of Yagwoia extra-marital relationships; involving not only the brothers of the same parents but also classificatory matrilateral brothers (see Mimica 1991). As a correlate, fratricide is a distinguishing feature of Yagwoia sociality.

(26.) In what follows I am drawing on the publicly known 'facts' since the matter was brought to the village court and then again to the police court. Ulaqayi was the principal witnis (witness) whose testimonial, in conjunction with his sister's, was used against his brother-in-law.

(27.) The logic of traditional Yagwoia homosexual practices fundamentally articulates the brotherhood of men constituted outside the sphere of female and hence affinal mediation (see Mimica 1991). What is more, the homosexual bond belonged exclusively to the sphere of bachelorhood and was never transferred to the domain of heterosexual relations and procreation. What PH's action indicates is the homosexual underpinnings of Yagwoia affinity but which as such was not extended to the sphere of institutionalised male-exclusive homosociality. On the other hand. in some New Guinea life-worlds, eg. the Etoro (Kelly, 1976, 1979), it is exactly the WB/ZH relation that articulates the logic of insemination so that one and the same man inseminates both the woman (his wife) and her brother (ZH). This is a fraternal articulation of the "nuclear' (Oedipus) complex underpinning exogamy and affinal exchange, one closer to Freud's scenario formulated in the Totem and Taboo. Another variant of the affinal (exo) dimension, that of the Boazi (Busse 2005:82), although also articulated through sister exchange, is, nevertheless, rigorously patrifilially determined. Here, it is the woman's father who acts as the semen giver to his daughter's husband (the semen receiver) and the two are thought to be 'like one person', as articulated in their pronominal usage and mutual name-taboo (ibid., p. 86). In this scheme, the father, In the extent that he cannot impregnate his daughter, he does so via his DH (of., also the more sublimated Gimi variation on this theme, Gillison 1993, 1994). The Yagwoia scheme is completely the opposite of this. The father is expected to abdicate his vested interests in his daughter to his son (i.e., the woman's brother) who alone monopolises his sister's womb, fecundity and therefore the exo (affinal) domain of sociality generated through women's societal circulation. In the Yagwoia scheme, the fundamental incest desire is that of self-creation via the maternal womb which can be achieved through the son's marriage to the woman who is categorically identical to his FM (see Mimica 1991).

(28.) The pig was eaten by the komiti men and policemen. I was told that they first wanted PH to pay 500K to his ZH for the pig but the latter halved it to 250K because he felt that this was too much given that they were in a near equal (i.e. sister exchange) affinal relation. The difference is that while PH's real sister was married to this man, the latter's classificatory (she is Ulaqayi's real) sister was married to PH. Therefore, PH was in a stronger wile-giver position than his ZH was to him, which is why this man felt that he had to assist his disgraced and savagely beaten WB.

(29.) These details made me suspect that he might not masturbate, but I never asked him about it.

(30.) Qang's opinion is based on his concrete knowledge of the vicissitudes of the Sambia pseudo-hermaphrodites (tanim man: see Gajdusek 1979: Miller et al. 1990: Herdt 1992, 1996: Herdt and Davidson 19881 many of whom would, in fact, at puberty undergo a rapid virilisation, i.e., the obverse of what he thought that might happen to Ulaqayi.

(31.) My use of this concept needs a word of qualification since I am clearly not committed to Lacan's metapsychological framework and its concomitant quasi algebraic and topological iconography which has its own conceptual value. In Lacan's thought, jouissance clearly relates to the classical psychoanalytic domain of the conceptualisation of psychic energy, libido, and instinctual drives. I have taken it precisely because it pertains to the dialectics of enjoyment and satisfaction generated through a variety of activities and relations that constitute the human libidinal (bodily) serf and its existential milieu. Enjoyment and satisfaction are not given but are generated through specific projects and modes of self-actualisation. Accordingly, frustration and outright suffering and destructiveness may become intrinsic and determinant modalities of the egoic self's pursuit of his/her of enjoyment and satisfaction. For some aspects of Lacan's thinking about jouissance, see his Encore (Seminar 20), 1998. For the exegeses on the development of his concept, see Braunstein (2003) and Evans (1998).

(32.) For in so far as they would have become like him, i.e., grown up and responsible child-producing men like their father, then they have to do the father's work. This is the dynamics of the father 'replacement" (ita:le) by the son which is contained in the Yagwoia notion of the extraction of the 'father's bone'.

(33.) I deal with him in a separate study.

(34.) These sorts of pre-mortem arrangements and pledges between lovers and husband-wife couples are very common among the Yagwoia. For a detailed case-study, see Mimica 2006.

(35.) "My father told them (his brothers): "You find a woman for him. He became like a woman and so will he be looking after you just for food?! You find a woman, pay for her, give her to him. try so for him and see will he still stay like that (woman-like) or (what)? Do so for him while I am still alive. When I die I will not be pleased about him.'"

(36.) Again I will stress that in Yagwoia understanding a spirit is an external autonomous being, Internalisation is an accurate enough rendition since the dream as well as Ulaqayi's recurrent invocation of his father's talk clearly show that he took the father's demands deeply enough so that his un/conscious began to respond. Ulaqayi sees the experience as the work of his father's spirit.

(37.) For this archetypal meaning of house in the Yagwoia life-world, see ft. 20 and further discussion below. See also Mimica 1981.

(38.) Although Ulaqayi never wore proper trousers, Qang told me that he saw him buying a pair which he then cut lengthwise so that they could be worn wrapped around the waist as a sarong (laplap in Tok Pisin). This may well be seen as his attempt to make a piece of "transitional object" attire containing both the female and male aspects. In one photograph he wears this sort of combination featuring the leggings of short trousers which seem to have been cut higher up and wrapped up as a sarong.

(39.) This equally extends to European clothes. Many younger men attest to the fundamental intersubjective determination of sexual difference and the correlative differential and rigid, mirror-reciprocity between the sexes when they assert that it is not appropriate for women to wear trousers because that makes them like men. For those who disagree, they challenge them by saying--if women would ask all men to wear skirts, what would you do? Wear it or what?! Therefore, each sex should stick with its own proper attire that co-determines bodily sexedness or else sexual difference may quickly begin to erode and work against men. For the worry is that if women would be more like men they would also rule them. These views are symptomatic of deep anxieties generated by the ouroboric bisexual matrix of the Yagwoia cultural un/conscious. On the other hand, the Yagwoia never expressed or showed any disapproval of white women wearing trousers (short or long). In 2005, a very courageous and stalwart young woman determined to walk at night from Me. station to her village, put on long pants, a shirt, concealed her hair under a cap, and with a machete in one hand and a torch in another, made it along a 14 km vehicular road. She told me that there were many men on the road but they didn't bother her because they assumed that she was a man.

(40.) Or through Lacan's trinity of the imaginary, symbolic, and the real father (Lacan 1993; Dor 2001). To be sure, despite what he and his valiant followers might say, Lacan's Other is an archetypal configuration whose inner narcissistic determination and circuity of desire is not sufficiently clarified. A more thorough problematisation of his concept in comparison with the Yagwoia and other mythopoeic schemata of human egoity and its Self-World relationships would greatly contribute towards that task. Regarding the Yagwoia cosmic Self, it is of critical significance that its ouroboric (phallo-umbilical) self-closure is structured in such a way that it includes the whole of its contents. That is, all humans are in their core irreducibly plugged into the phallo-umbilicus of their cosmic Self which contains them all and they in turn contain their container as its part=wholes. This is a ceaseless self-totalising dynamics in which all otherness is the mirror image and emission of the absolute self-generating Self (Mimica 1981).

(41.) Her fragile sister, who became widowed a few years earlier and then remarried, was now living with her. Ulaqayi in turn extended his maternal attachment to her, especially when he would enunciate that he might abandon himself in suicide (see below).

(42.) The boy was the first-born son by his first wife.

(43.) It seems that be really did all the main work and I have no doubt that he was fond of Ulaqayi. PH told me that Ulaqayi was a very good boy because when you do something for him he doesn't spare effort to endear you in kind. He buys fish and rice, cooks and gives it to you. PH told him not to overdo it because other people may take advantage of him. He also thought that Ulaqayi was not likely to become a man because of his brothers who divested him of his money.

(44.) In the Yagwoia, looking is predicated by the verb stem (-n-) 'eat' which therefore makes looking and eating the same ingestive activity.

(45.) Qang fully agreed with him saying that this is the white man's way where man and woman are on the same level. 'You must not put woman down and man up, above her. If the woman works in the garden the man also must work. I wouldn't go around just for leisure. I must make fence, work in the garden, clean bush; the two of us must work together. When the food is ready then it is the time for me to have a rest and I go running around (for pleasure). The man's way is like that and the woman's is to look after the food'. One can see here that despite the agreement on the equality, Qang critically differs from Ulaqayi who does exclusively the female work and says that he would do everything in unison with his woman. But he doesn't readily say that he would be fencing and all those other male works which he never perceived as being appropriate for him.

(46.) He has most effectively locked himself inside the consanguineal sphere of self-circuity and thereby has deprived himself of his own wealth and a mode of Yagwoia (ouroboric) freedom. Compared with the two Yagwoia women who insisted on living on their own (ft. 23), thereby also creating a blockage in their brothers' affinal circuity, Ulaqayi is a sort of 'sister' who, precisely by being unable to serve as the affinal conduit serves best the interests of her brothers and other consanguineal relatives. He has become an endogenous female source from which the wealth flows but nothing has to go back to. A womb that cannot produce a child, he nevertheless is the most lucrative facilitator of his brothers generativity. He is entrapped by his own self-closure in the way that he alone is the key-author of his own deprivation. Precisely because a regular woman, by being an affinal conduit, can via her husband exercise a fair control over the wealth she produces, Ulaqayi's predicament illuminates the vital import of the ouroboric affinal (exo) dynamics of Yagwoia sociality as a field of libidinal circuity and the individuating possibilities that can be actualised differentially by men and women, especially in respect of the control of wealth production and mediation.

(47.) Although a rhetorical exaggeration its validity hinges on the fact that they extracted money from Ulaqayi and that he didn't receive anything from his own sisters' bride-price.

(48.) The pronoun here should really be 'Her' because it was Ulaqayi's identity as a great mother provider that defined the mood of this situation. Although this capitalised female pronominal indexing might confuse the reader, it could convey something of the experiential quality of Ulaqayi's maternal-feminine self-projection.

(49.) In Yagwoia classification of affinal relatedness, the daughter-in-law (SW) and the parents-in-law (HF, HM) are grand-kin: HM = GM = 'ancestress'; HF = GF = 'ancestor'; SW= GD = 'ancestress'.

(50.) Or 'same as'.

(51.) Here I am alluding to a Yagwoia exclamation Aiy! Ungye tece tatane! (Shell/money sound calls), the reference being the sounds produced by the handling of shells or money which announces that they are on their way to be handed over to the one who asks for them. Ulaqayi's pronouncements were the sonic semblance of his desire for the real pecuniary response of his brothers which never eventuated, not even as a movement that would produce the clinking-clanking sounds of the real money they owed him.

(52.) In my fieldwork subsequent to 2000, due to knee and back problems, I had to restrict my movements to the immediate sector of my research area and therefore couldn't go to visit Ulaqayi and his mother in a hamlet about three hours walk from the place where I was staying.

(53.) In recent years a number of men and their families have moved into this area where they spend longer periods of time due to the opportunities to earn some cash. This happened first when in the mid-nineties the French anthropologist Pierre Lemonnier facilitated, thanks to a generous gilt from the French government (about 150,000 Kina), the start of work on an airstrip by an Angave-speaking group (Yaqauwye) among whom he has been doing research since 1985 (on these people, see Bonnemare 1996: Lelnonnier 2006). Ever since this most remote group (by local standards) suddenly became the conduit for cash-flow a greater number of Yagwoia (primarily Iqwaye, uNg-Wace, and Iwolaqa-Malyce) men began to frequent this area looking for work on the air-strip which as yet has not been completed. The money, however, has been managed by the administrative office at Menyamya. Since 2003 the Inter-Oil company opened up several oil rigs further south-west from this region (in the deep interior of the Gulf Province) which in turn became the point of attraction for so many Yagwoia and Angave to go there looking tier some opportunity to procure cash but, also, for the sheer spectacle offered by such industrial edifices as oil-rigs in the middle of what has traditionally been the most remote and perilous region of the Yagwoia life-world, effectively its terminus where the sky and earth come together to form the world-closure.

(54.) As pointed out earlier (It. 27), in the context of the traditional institutionalised homosexual practice, all overt male homoerotic behaviour and engagements were restricted to the closed sphere of bachelorhood and they would end--irreversibly--after marriage and the birth of the first child (Mimica 1991) Underpinning Ulaqayi's action is his position as a female man-woman, amplified, among others, by his exquisite maternal comportment. In this regard, a general pattern of the Yagwoia maternal interaction with male babies also includes brisk genital stroking (see above, ft 18).

(55.) Its assimilation into the current Yagwoia moral-erotic sensibilities and emotional valuations is a matter of contextual fluctuations and escalations, a topic that I explore in another work.

(56.) The concept of ouroboric dual self-unity invoked in the text derives from Roheim (1945a, b after a patient of Hoffman's quoted by the former in 1945a:1-2) and Neumann, (1954, 1966. 1973). I regard the more recent empirical research on the mother-child relationship (eg. Stern 1985, 1995: Fonagy, Gergely. Jurist, and Target 2002,) to be informative but by no means does it invalidate or replace the fundamental clinical insights of the classic psychoanalytic contributions (see Kumin 1996: Wolff 1996 and the discussion in Sandler, Sandler, and Davies, eds. 2000).

(57.) Instances of homoerotic arrangements involving mature married men and un-initiated boys in Melanesia are well documented for Vanuatu (Deacon 1934:261-62) and East Bay, Santa Cruz Island (Davenport 1965). In the latter case two aspects are worthwhile pointing out: the relationships are conducted with public parental (or at least paternal) consent and not subject to secrecy or any painful ritual initiatory elaborations. See Mimica 2001:227-230 for a critical clarification of this material and also discussions by Herdt 1984, 1989, 1991; Murray 1992..
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Author:Mimica, Jadran
Article Type:Essay
Geographic Code:8PAPU
Date:Jul 1, 2008
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