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No Family Is an Island


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Table of Contents

Introduction Part I 1. Exchanging While Not-Knowing 2. The Moral Economies of Conversion Part II Introduction: Some Political and Historical Context 3. When Culture Is Not a System 4. Legislating Families as Cultural 5. Constructing Choice, Compelling Culture Conclusion References Index

About the Author

Ilana Gershon is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Indiana University. She is the author of The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media and No Family Is an Island: Cultural Expertise among Samoans in Diaspora and editor of A World of Work: Imagined Manuals for Real Jobs, all from Cornell.


"Gershon provides a fine-grained analysis of distinctions within Samoan migrant societies that emphasise second-generation differences and the relationship between more established migrants and those they refer to pejoratively as 'fobs...' Avaluable [contribution]... to the gradually expanding literature on the Polynesian diaspora."-John Connel,Journal of Pacific History(2013) "No Family Is an Island is innovative, ethnographically and comparatively rich and compelling, and theoretically subtle and invigorating. Ilana Gershon has an imaginative and sophisticated sense of problems-and of those sites, events, and practices that provide particularly revelatory points of entry into wrestling with those problems. This book is a major contribution to the Samoan literature, to the ethnography of neoliberalism in situ and in practice, and to the anthropology of bureaucracies and of policy. It is a remarkable achievement."-Donald L. Brenneis, University of California Santa Cruz "No Family Is an Island is a benchmark work in the study of migration and the study of the Pacific as well as an important contribution to anthropological theory. Focusing on the constitution of Samoan migrant families, Ilana Gershon shows how they negotiate what will count in their lives as the 'cultural' and the 'acultural' or 'universal' in the realms of gift and market exchange, religion, the raising of children, and interaction with the state and those who provide services on its behalf. At once approachably written and intellectually rich, this book will be widely read in anthropology, sociology, and migration studies, and it should transform the way the relationship between migration and culture is understood in these fields going forward."-Joel Robbins, UC San Diego, author of Becoming Sinners: Christianity and Moral Torment in a Papua New Guinea Society

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