Anger, Reciprocity, and the Rhythms of Experience

  • Edward L. Schieffelin


Kaluli refrain from courses of action that presume too much on another’s generosity, frustrate his legitimate expectations, or trespass on his interests. This is because they fear his anger. An act of lashing out in anger among the Kaluli has a directly reciprocal meaning. In the West, we tend to view a strike in anger in its punitive aspect: a negative reward for an undesirable action. If we ask why A struck B, the answer is usually “Because B did such and such.” A Kaluli, however, would tend to reply, “Because A was angry.” His act is viewed primarily as a satisfaction for his feelings through return of the injury rather than as a punishment or deterrent to an offender. (Of course, it also acts as a deterrent, but the implication is one of direct personal retalia¬tion rather than approved sanction for misconduct.)


Dona Tree Legitimate Expectation Undesirable Action Negative Reward Banana Stem 
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© Edward L. Schieffelin 2005

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  • Edward L. Schieffelin

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