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Guardians of the Flutes, Volume 1: Idioms of Masculinity Paperback – December 15, 1994

ISBN-13: 978-0226327495 ISBN-10: 0226327493

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Guardians of the Flutes, Volume 1: Idioms of Masculinity + Sambia Sexual Culture: Essays from the Field (Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture)
Price for both: $52.34

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 402 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (December 15, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226327493
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226327495
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,507,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Herdt, a Stanford anthropology professor, lived with the Sambia people of Papua New Guinea for two years, a tribe noted for its practice of forcing boys to engage in homosexuality. The author "makes interesting observations about gender identity, symbolism and perception," PW commented.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Gilbert Herdt is professor and director of the Graduate Program in Human Sexuality at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco and director emeritus of the National Sexuality Resource Center at San Francisco State University. His books include Sambia Sexual Culture: Essays from the Field, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By LearnerGirl on January 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have not yet read this book, but I will be reading it in the coming semester for a college course.

I want to respond to the person below who believes that using a fake name for the tribe somehow implies that the author is lying. This is absolutely not the case. Readers must keep in mind that this book is an ethnography, and Herdt, the author, is an anthropologist. It is standard anthropological practice to disguise the names of groups and people involved in anthropological studies. Anonymity is extremely important in a study such as this one because it allows people to disclose potentially dangerous information without fear. The use of pseudonyms does not take away from the credibility of the work.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Geoff Puterbaugh on February 10, 2007
Format: Paperback
...about this subject.

One reviewer whines "How Do We Know?" and thereby implies directly that the author is a liar, and made up everything reported in this book.

While that person may choose to remain in darkness, this book was very well received among professionals, who realized at once that it added more detail (a lot more detail) to the generally known facts about sexuality in New Guinea. In fact, there are many other tribes, reported in the literature, who practice the same system of sexuality -- with the perhaps interesting exception that the sexuality is not oral but via the posterior route.

As for disguising the name of the tribe, it seems to me that Herdt has really done something quite remarkable: he has protected his sources. There is no tribe called the "Sambia" in New Guinea, but there is the tribe which Herdt studied, and one of the key elements in their system of male sexuality is that it must be kept SECRET.

In this, I must confess that by the age of 60 I have seen this sort of behavior all over the world: men can have all the sex they want together, but it is imperative not to scare the horses. DON'T let the women know.

If Herdt had published his book with the tribe's real name, he would have blown their cover. I congratulate him for not doing so.

As for what the Sambia are up to, I would suggest reading the book, and not counting on a book review to fill you in on all the details. But as a very high-level view, the Sambia have a superstitious belief that a young boy's development into a full-fledged male is a highly doubtful procedure -- not guaranteed by the spirits or the gods. So they practice "boy invigoration," which entails the young boy receiving regular doses of masculinity.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bazza on August 6, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book promises a fascinating insight to a rare Papuan tribe...........ts not an easy read..........a lot of illuminating footnotes.........amazing dedication to very serous research by the author.No regrets about buying it but be prepared for a heavy read.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book describes in detail the initiation of boys in the Sambia of Papua New Guinea, an isolated and "primitive" tribe who believe that masculine characteristics can only by aquired by boys through ingesting the semen of older men. The flutes symbolize the magic of the oral copulation stage through which the boys must go to be considered adult males.
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