Changes in Latitude: An Uncommon Anthropology Paperback – June 1, 1990
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"Changes in Latitude pays tribute to the beautiful complexities of life...It is a book about holding on to self-respect despite the loss of familiar moorings and letting go of emotional defenses in order to experience the tumultuous feelings that are part and parcel of new experience." -- Los Angeles Times
"Consistently amazing." -- Newsweek
"The author's assured pace, unflinching eye, and open heart make Changes in Latitude worthy of comparison with the South Pacific writings of Margaret Mead and Robert Louis Stevenson." -- Kirkus Reviews
"This is a true storya mind-boggling oneand an unforgettable book." -- Cosmopolitan
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I loved learning about the Fijian people and culture via the insights of an insider (Joana)
I went to Fiji this Spring. It is fabulous. Some of the people are so achingly beautiful and their ways seem timeless. Like Joana, I felt the hardships and the incongruities -- and the heavenly beauty -- and the draw of a more simple life. I kinda hoped I might run into Joana while I was there.
In reading stories of cultures with arranged marriages, one often hears of young women being married off against their will to much older men for the financial well-being of the family. Occasionally, such stories are accompanied by tales of what happened to the young women. This is the first time I have ever heard of the tale being turned on its head-where the older spouse with the financial resources is a woman, and where the younger spouse being urged on by the family is a man. And to add to the novelty, the older spouse in this case happens to be a skilled observer and writer, capable of explaining some of the complex emotional turmoil that results. Here we read how Joana and Male, who start out with practically nothing in common, slowly learn to accommodate each other's needs, wishes, and cultures and gradually build the bonds of marriage.
Another unique aspect of this book is that as a college student, Varawa studied anthropology, so she is attuned to the kinds of observations that anthropologists consider vital for understanding an alien culture. In this book, Varawa describes many aspects of Fijian village life, from economics and division of labor, to house building, child-raising, marriages and funerals. The difference is, instead of being an "impartial" observer, Varawa is an active participant, struggling to pull her own weight as a family member. Although the information comes from an unexpected source, it provides a revealing glimpse into Fijian culture.