Does Size Really Matter? Yam ceremonies in Papua New Guinea (18 Oct 2012)


Uploaded by UCLLHL on 23.10.2012

Transcript:
>> So I'd like to thank first the organizer of this event
for inviting me, and I am going to start by telling you that,
in fact here, what we are going to talk about is, we are going
to talk about food, but we are not only going
to talk about food.
In fact, this talk that I'm giving to you started
from the realization that something very,
very strange happened something like 200
or 250 years ago in Europe.
This was the moment, in fact, where people
in Europe were starting to think
about human beings not only human beings as creatures
of gods, or members of the natural environment,
but they started to think about, what is it about society,
and how does social relation emerge?
And that's the moment --
many scholars have investigated the emergence
of what we call humanities
and particularly social science at that time.
And indeed the way in which those people started to think
about what is social relations, what is society,
starting to create university department,
write book about that.
So imagine seeing that this idea of societies slightly emerge
out of this historical development.
But we are very lucky here, because in fact as we wrote
about society, and nowadays, we have all sort of theory
and analogies of what social relation,
of what society, what community is.
And so after doing my field work
and investigating what I am going to talk
about as the moment of discussion
with other colleagues, who started to think: "Okay,
that works, because we have writing," and so we have started
to develop those disciplines: sociology,
anthropology, all the humanities.
What happens when, are we the only ones who started to think
about society as something to reflect upon,
to evaluate, to judge?
How do people in non-literate society think
about this themselves?
About the way in which society works?
Would that be a little bit arrogant to think
that we are the only ones who can do that?
So basically what I'm presenting today is a sort of trajectory,
a sort of hypothesis; there's a mixture of result,
this is also something that I hope I am going to be able
to develop in the next few years.
So let me take you to Papua New Guinea,
which is located in Oceania.
This is part of the New Guinea island, which is north
of Australia, just right here.
And I'm going to take you more precisely in an area
that is called the Sepik, the Sepik province.
A region which is called Maprik,
where you have this very interesting environment
of this area of foothill of the chain of mountains
which are covered with forest.
We are not talking here about jungle.
We're talking about a forest in which people have lived there
for thousands and thousands of years.
So they know very well this forest.
So have sort of merged within it, and all their techniques
and way of life are part of that relationship with the forest.
And one thing they know very well is, how do plants behave?
They also look at birds and other types of animals.
So what is interesting is most of the way
in which the people live there, they live in sort
of like ridges, on the ridges those very sort of sharp hills
which are not very high, perhaps only 600 meters.
I'm sorry, I don't do inches and yards and feet.
I am very bad with that, all right?
And one of the elements that has attracted the attention
of anthropologists and of travellers in the area is
in fact -- oh yeah, I wanted to show you basically
where I actually did my field work, which is a bit of a shock
because when I was there between 2001
and 2003 I actually did a map of all of that.
And in 2008 I realized that you could actually zoom
to the actual village where I was.
And this is where I was living, so just interesting.
So one of the practices or customs
that people do there is actually every year they have what is
called a Yam Ceremony, a wapi-saki [phonetic],
which means the lining up of all yams.
And what they are doing, in fact,
they are displaying these massive tubers of yams
which can reach up to three meters
and weigh more than 50 kilos.
And they decorate them and people
from the different villages come
and evaluate them and discuss about it.
So s you can see here, there are a couple of pictures.
There is this idea that the practice actually is,
people are going there and looking at the yams,
looking at their shape, looking at how well they are formed,
looking at their length.
But also they talk about whose is that, where did it come from,
who has planted it, which garden and et cetera.
So there is not only a formal analysis but also,
if you want to the analysis and the discussion
of the history of the tuber.
Well, this is something that we know.
We do that right here.
I couldn't find any images from France's for that picture
but we have [French phrase]
where people present those massive pumpkins.
And here those are pictures that I have taken
from actually 2012 Harrogate Flower Show.
This fellow has won the prize presenting in onions,
and I think it was the, how do you call that, [French word],
pickles or something like that.
This idea of people coming and seeing produce
and evaluating them, it's also reminding me
of the [French phrase] in France,
where you are very important man, such as here,
the minister [French name], the previous government,
coming and looking and evaluating, right?
So basically you can make a very interesting comparison
between the image there, where you have big men, important men,
elders of other village will come and watch those yams
and discuss about it
and [inaudible] is actually the same.
That's one of the question.
Well, in fact one of the things that people have talked
about in anthropology is the fact that there is this idea
that those yams are very long and when you look at the way
in which they have been cultivated, they are cultivated
by men only in special garden
from which women are totally excluded.
It's surrounded with secrecy.
You cannot have sex during the period when the yams are there.
They have an elongated shape, so...
what is it?
Well, that's basically a phallic cult and a phallic symbol.
I apologize for the red that you cannot see here.
That was one of the first interpretations.
Was it really so?
Or was it us sort of imposing our perception of what it is?
So that's one of the things that drove me to go back
into the field and examine that.
And I did a bit of research before, and what I realized
through the literature and through the field work was
that those yams were acting different way.
One of the ways in which they were acting, they were acting
as images that people would work at.
They were considered as beautiful, there were rules
of decoration, it's very elaborated, very vibrant, right?
It's connected to other type of images that were part
of secret initiation which are not done before.
And I will go back to that fellow at the end of my talk.
But they are not only images; they are also food,
and the food is prepared mostly by women.
And here what you are seeing is the way in which a group
of women were actually peeling, preparing yam.
You can eat them roasted, boiled in several different way.
It's considered as the major food,
even though from a purely nutritional point of view,
yams don't occupy actually a very, very big part.
And finally they also act as valuables.
That is, sort of item of exchanges that people transact
between them, between different group.
Mostly what they call compensation.
For example if you are going to marry someone, right?
If I am supposed to marry Kayco [phonetic] here for example,
I'm supposed to give to Kayco's family compensation
for taking her away from her home.
That's matrimonial compensation, right?
But also compensation for funeral, right?
If somebody on the side of my family dies, right?
I need to give back something to compensate the loss
of that person to the family to the mother's side
of that person who died.
For example, if me nephew dies, I'm going to have
to give compensation to his mother,
if this nephew is my brother's son.
But also compensation for disputes.
If I got into an argument with Paul, who is just right here,
in order to solve the problem I might actually give him yams,
give him some shells.
And yam will be part of that.
So basically there's this idea that yams act
in very different way and they are all going
to use those great long yams.
So the notion of images in fact are very interesting.
The [inaudible], the very famous in the literature,
in the museums, you can find this collection everywhere,
for having created this very elaborated figure
that were used in initiation.
In particular the figure which is on the top here,
who is called the Puti [phonetic],
which is the ancestor from which the world emerge, who is empty,
because he has given -- emptied himself out,
because he has given everything.
Keep that in mind for later.
This image of an ancestor that gives out and empties himself.
So what type of yams people are cultivating?
They are cultivating those long yams, their botanical name,
but they are also cultivating short yams.
What is interesting is, in fact,
in order to understand those long yam system, or ways of --
or the role that they play,
you need to understand the entire process of cultivation.
So I look at the way in which short yams were cultivated.
This is no secret.
Short yams are planted in an open garden,
the entire community of the same hamlet will come
and help me plant, right?
Men, women: it's going to be a social event,
is going to be sort of like festive nature, a lot of joke.
People will bring food, it's going to be very fun.
Whereas when I'm cultivating the long yam is something
which in garden which are a little bit outside the
main track.
And I'm going to only invite my close friends, and some member
of my family and some of my...
allies. Allies, sorry.
So basically what I did is I followed the making
of the long yams because I wanted
to understand how they could become such an important
and sensual artefact, if you will.
And so I realized one of the ways in which I could analyze
that and then look at the way in which, what people were doing
in the garden, what knowledge they used, what type of tools,
material and supernatural -- for instance, magic --
but also what raw material they were using.
And basically what I did is I followed the cultivation process
during one year.
A little bit more than that.
And what I found was absolutely fascinating.
By following the yam during the entire year,
I started to touch upon many dimension
of the life of the village.
I'm not saying all of the dimension, but it was sort
of like, a little bit like an archaeologist
that makes a test pit, right?
Just... brief touch upon the relation between men and women,
relation with modernity, development, [inaudible],
the relation with the war in Iraq, with 9/11,
with what's going on in the Papua New Guinea government.
So it was sort of like a very interesting way.
It wasn't complete but it was a sort
of like link between all of that.
So just briefly, I'm going
to show you briefly how you plant a yam.
You create this mound here of finely broken earth on the top
of which you are going to plant the set.
That is a piece of yam which has already germinated,
that you can see on the top on the image there.
And then you are going to put that here, and as the year go,
you are going to see the vines that are going to grow slowly
and people are going to build that trellis, very elaborated
that can go up to 11 meters, and at the end of that,
they are going to put those bamboos, around which each vine
of the plant will be attached.
It's a work of every day, but it's also a private work.
People go to their garden to step aside a little bit
of the frantic life of the village.
You go with your friend.
You go into your garden, you don't speak loud.
You don't make a lot of noise.
You go there because it's your own private place.
I am to believe that for English people, home is their castle.
I think that perhaps when they have a yam garden is their sort
of castle, in a sense.
So this is a couple of images of those elaborated structure,
and in particular the last part which is this bamboo structure
which is just right here.
And around each bamboo is going to act
as a tutor for one of the vine.
Keep that in mind again.
But also there are moments in which you need
to dig underneath, as you can see, this sort of small wall
to reach of the tuber which is about to grow,
in order to either drain it from the water
if there is too much water and the tuber is going to rot,
or also to perform certain forms of magic.
And then after nine month, and you see here,
a couple of relation, people will dug up the yam,
will clean its small rootlets, and then they will hide it
in one of the yam storage house up until the moment
of the yam ceremony where they are going
to decorate them and display them.
When I said that I studied the way in which yams were made,
I looked obviously at agronomical, if you want, fact.
I tried to get information on the nature of the soil,
the type of practice people were doing.
But also I realized that people, in their way of cultivating yam,
were including within that what we think are
non-technical element.
Because all those non-technical elements were supposed
to be intangible, were supposed to be immaterial, were supposed
to be only symbolical.
In fact, when you read literature on agronomy,
on yam cultivation in this type of country you have a lot
of information on the technical part.
And everything which is sort of magic, and et cetera,
its society's social, right?
But in fact, my job as an anthropologist was not so much
to look at that, but was to try to understand what is it
for the people themselves to grow yam.
So if they tell me this element is very important,
I have to include it in my description.
Right? And one of the element
that was interesting was the substance,
a certain invisible substance that we have in our body
that is called the jowai [phonetic], which can be
in our scent, in our blood, can be negotiated
but can also be transmitted on material
through the sweat on your palm.
It's a little bit like an anthropological notion
which has become quite famous, which is the manna,
the sort of supernatural power
of Polynesian society before, if you will.
Another was, well, the anti-sexual taboos, in fact,
it wasn't only sexual.
It was about a lot of things.
While yams are in the ground, you cannot get angry.
You cannot have a dispute with your wife.
You cannot have a dispute with your neighbor.
You need to be calm and detached.
Perfect, stiff upper lip.
British gentleman, in a sense.
And in fact this type of process is, as I could found out,
was present in many other activities.
I remember a couple of years ago for one of the World Cup,
I think that the French soccer team got in trouble because,
in fact, I think that they hired some private company
on the night before a game?
And that was forbidden by the coach,
because in fact before the game, those men need
to retain their power so they shouldn't spend it too much
enjoying themselves.
Right? And you have also, you know this type of thing,
they have this sort of like relationship between sexuality
and the thing that we are doing, which are sort of like pervasive
in many, many different societies.
Here too, but it was not only about sex;
it was about certain type of food, it was, as I said,
about certain places and a certain form of behavior.
So basically all of that was also part
of what makes a yam become long and beautiful.
Other things of course are sort of like those secret substances,
in fact, which are made of powder, of mineral,
the sap of certain plants, which in fact I call secret substance,
but when you talk a little bit with people you realize
that everybody knows the secret.
Right? It's like a secret ingredient
when you're cooking that everybody knows.
Right? You make roast potato, I've been told one
of the ways you can do that is to put a bit of flour
in a bag and you shake that.
That's a secret ingredient.
Yeah. Well, I think many of you know that,
but that was presented to me as a secret ingredient.
But not only those.
But there was also this notion that we call beauty.
This is like -- oop, sorry.
There is -- just about here, what you can see is the flower
of an hibiscus that one of my friend gardener has
but on the top of the yam.
He told me that also was going to help it to grow.
So there is this idea that yams are living beings,
that they are receptive to all of that, right?
So beauty, secrecy, social relation, sexuality,
relation with the entire community become part, in fact,
of what makes a yam long and big.
There is also the main plaza of the village
in which you have a stone in the center.
This stone is absolutely fundamental, right?
Every time there are visitors or a big ceremony or a thing
like that, or every two other weeks for example,
you have the village that create an assembly to talk
about problem within the community,
sometimes even private problems are discussed openly.
Right? Or politics.
The election in Papua New Guinea.
Or a new recommendation from the government.
Everyone gather around that stone, on that plaza seat.
it's also the occasion of a party, there is food.
Every speaker, like I'll do, will walk to and fro
around a small heap of stone in the middle.
It is said that this stone, which is called the spider
and the moon, they are the same word, in fact, capture the heat,
the passion but also the intelligence of the debate.
And this heat in fact then through a complex system
of secrecy that I can't really talk about here is transmitted
to all the gardens of the community.
So you see here that growing a long yam is not
like calculating the amount of water, the photosynthesis,
the quality of the soil, the quantity of [inaudible]
that there is in the ground.
It's about something which is much more wider that pertains
to what it is to live in this village?
So that's the fueling of the stone, the mouth power,
the power of oration, the power of verb.
People during those meeting will also use songs,
metaphor to talk about, yes, to talk about the war
that had just broke in Iraq and the invasion of Afghanistan,
because I was there between 2001 and 2003.
Right? They are using all those type of metaphor.
So what is very interesting is that this heat is considered,
can be interpreted -- and that's the interpretation
of the anthropologist and you have to go back and ask people
"Does this heat come from," what we call as anthropologists
in our jargon, "social relation'?"
People will say it comes from, yes, they are not going
to perhaps going to use the term social relation,
but they're going to talk about living together.
Right? So that's a very important point that allows us
to think that making those long yams is also based on creating,
recreating social relation.
So now why do people make long yam ceremonies?
I asked that question.
You have to ask that question.
And what the people say is
that when you create a long yam ceremony, when you have that,
when you celebrate the yam, that's going
to help open the road to all the food.
Right? And this opening of the road of all the food,
we actually make all the gardens produce,
all the tree to produce.
So there is a logic, a local logic of how all
of that works together.
It's not only the anthropologist's imagination.
This is also how people respond to our question.
Sometimes you need also to be careful
about how you ask your question, but that's another topic.
So planting the short yam is a social event when the sweat,
the jowai, the substance I was talking about was part of that,
where the beauty and the joy of young men joking together,
flirting with women, where all the community is actually part
of planting the garden and will mix their substance
within this garden.
This is also what they say.
So the result at the end is sort of like those tubers --
that don't look like work of art.
It looks like an elaborated sculpture.
That's also what attracted me.
Everyone was talking about the sculpture of the [inaudible].
I was interested in these very interesting artefact.
Not even the decoration.
I became interested in the decoration later of course.
You don't have to worry too much about deciphering that.
It's just for you.
Well actually, you might not be able to...
but it's just to show you the complexity of the entire process
and what together it implies and how long it lasts.
By the end of the day this is what I started to feel:
basically the yam is like in the middle of a web
of many different things.
The relationship between the gender, the politics,
the relationship with the ancestor,
what we call magic ritual, but that people might talk about,
might actually define as just doing things.
So the yam is actually sort of in the middle
of this very tight network and this is sort
of how the yam actually starts to emerge.
I showed that diagram to the people following one
of the advice of one of the important figure
of anthropology, Claude Levi-Strauss.
"Each time you make a diagram like that,
go back to the people and show it to them.
Ask them what they think."
And basically what I came about, and that's after living
in the field, so that's more like a hypothesis than I am now
at this moment, is the fact
that those yams were actually the meta-realization
of these relationships.
Right? They were as if it was social relation, this sociality,
that bound us together that was suddenly captured or coalesced
or precipitated into the form of images
and food, and also valuables.
But why yams?
I thought I answered that question.
I'm just starting to actually get my head around it.
Let's look at yams a little bit.
Oh, let's look at images.
Remember the puti?
Yes? The figure, the one who is empty
because he has given out everything?
Well, that might be something which is interesting
because as you can see here, there is a system.
This is a representation that was made in '94 of the inside
of a ceremonial house where the initiation chamber.
The puti is in fact carrying a bag on his back.
Right? And it's actually called the woot [phonetic],
which is also the womb of the female from which we are born.
But there is also some equation between that bag
and the yam mound, but also between the yam mound
and the entire structure of the ceremonial house.
Those are hypotheses, so follow me through.
And I started to think about this principle of Russian dolls.
Things that are inside things, that are inside things.
The ceremonial house contain images,
that contain images, that contain images.
It's a bit like Escher.
The sort of like, whoa, images.
And then I looked at the way in which yam behave.
Going back to my field notes, reading a bit.
During the first time of the year, in fact,
you have those vines that grow and climb, right?
And during the second part of the year, those vine dries,
and that's the moment when the tuber grows and go deep.
So there's a movement like that.
Pchew! Projection in many vines.
And then whew!
Receding within the ground.
Something that was very interesting is --
so that's another type of representation here.
That's how the tuber that you planted sort
of to create the vines.
Those vines are called pati [phonetic].
I think the word should appear, but I'm worried.
Yes. Thos vines are called pati,
and pati is actually the same name for lineage or clan,
or family, if you wish.
And then I started to ask, so is a connection between the way
in which the vine grows and divide and the way
in which you think about those clans?
And they say yes, in fact.
Yes we are sort of a bit like yams.
There was an original clan that moved
and then the brothers started to fight against each other,
so they moved from a different location
and this is how we broke up.
That's very familiar to us, in fact.
That's very interesting.
Right? That's a bit like a family tree
in reverse, if you will.
So this idea that family and clan are sort of like vegetable,
something that the people
of the village I did my field work are very,
very interested in.
But that's not something which is only,
if you want, only valid there.
In the second period, which is interesting,
is that you have the tuber that starts to grow.
Right? And the original tuber disappears, desiccates,
and it is only during the final
that everything recedes and goes inside.
So you see the sort of like breathing moment.
So basically what do we have?
Then people start to have that idea and ask that question.
So I said, in fact, yams are interesting
because those are yams that contains yams.
Right? And they say, "Yes indeed.
You plant a yam and it's going to give a yam,
who's going to give a yam, who's going to give a yam."
And there is this idea that in fact yams are very sort
of powerful.
They contain things.
And they have the ability actually
to reproduce themselves.
For those of you who are sort of botanists, you will know in fact
that yams are in fact clones of one another.
Right? So basically what you have is you have a yam
that contains yam, that contains yam, but that contains many
of them as you can see.
So basically the sort of tuber that you are looking
at is no longer something which is there, but something
which has the potential of giving plenty of them.
Because if you take a yam and you cut it in three
and you plant them, it's going to give
as many yams and et cetera.
So, yams containing yams, containing yams.
So this is where I'm going to stop here.
So as I started, what would be an indigenous form of sociology
or indigenous form of thinking about social relationship?
We have disciplines, we have book, we have experts.
I'm starting to wonder whether or not the people
who are planting the long yams are not like sociologists,
or anthropologists, perhaps.
This is not the way in which they try to materialize society
to sort of like give it to the people to comment, to discuss.
Why yams? Well, perhaps because it's about human reproduction.
Because the clan and lineage divide themselves,
because basically what it is about, it is also in relation
with that original ancestor that was, perhaps,
like an original yam that emptied itself
like the original seed that emptied
and gave birth to all the others.
So what about this massive yam?
Well, it is perhaps their own version
of the apocalypse, right?
That might sort of like come to us according
from the biblical point of view.
Right? The moment when we are all going to recede
within the body of divinity.
So this is pretty much where I am now.
It's just like: are those yams a form of sociology
which is displayed for people to discuss, comment,
disagree, think about?
They are talking about yams.
What is interesting is the fact
that they do something a bit more than we do,
or one could say that they something more
than we do with our sociology.
They circulate it, they re-plant it, they reproduce it.
So in a way are yams a form of sociology?
That's pretty much where I'm going to leave you here.
[ Applause ]
>> [Inaudible], that was wonderful.
Thank you very much indeed.
And I like the empathy
with which you showed us your own subject.
Are there questions, please?
Lady there.
>> Looking at some of the photographs --
>> Hang on a moment, because this is being streamed
around the would.
>> Looking at some of the photographs,
it looks as though it hasn't changed much
since Antony Forge was there 50 years ago
and I wondered how much you thought it had.
Because Maprik is much more accessible now,
and you don't say anything about the ceremonial aspect.
I wondered if they've changed at all.
>> Well, in fact, there are no more ceremonies.
I mean the reason why I came there, as far as I know,
but you know -- if you know a little bit
about those ceremonies there is a lot, in Melanesia,
where ceremonies stop for fifty years
and then suddenly they take up again.
Since the time of -- so Antony Forge has arrived then
and as you probably know at the end of the '50s,
he was sent there by Alfred Beuller from the Museum of Basil
and he went there to make a collection...
of those artefacts.
And at the time, yes, he was able to go to ceremonies.
>> ...in the British museum.
>> There are some in the British Museum,
and in fact they are almost everywhere,
in every single Euro-American museum.
So the prediction of all those initiations has stopped.
The last one that has been documented that I am aware
of is the one that has been documented
by Noel Maguican [phonetic] at the end of the '80s
for which the Museum of Leiden went there
and commissioned an entire ceremony
and then acquired the artefact afterwards.
But during me time people said
that there weren't any more initiation.
>> Do they still decorate them, though,
in the same way with the masks?
>> The yams -- that's the interesting thing.
That's one of the questions I asked myself.
The initiation are not there any more,
but the yams are still pretty much there.
Or they were when I was, and you know I got amused to the fact
that they are still doing it there.
So these fundamental things
that I'm talking are not the distant ethnography
romanticized past.
It is pretty much the stuff of every day and this is one
of the interesting thing about that.
I think.
>>> Thank you.
>>> Thank you for the question.
>>> The last question, the nine month that they dig it up after,
do you think there's a conscious relationship to human gestation?
Nine months in the womb?
>> I asked the question.
That was part of the interpretation of Antony Forge
who did a lot of work who has actually launched me
on the story of yams.
In fact as far as I'm aware, when you look at the way
in which those [inaudible] which is a particular species,
actually, it's usually seven months.
But it's difficult to keep track of things
because there is a certain conception
of the way things are done and it's difficult
as an ethnographer to follow that.
From those that I followed,
in fact nine month is probably a rule of the thumb.
And as such, when you ask the question, yes,
they equate that with [inaudible], but they talk
about moon of course,
which might be different than calendar months.
>> Question?
>> Yeah?
>> Who is decide...
when the festival, who decide the...?
>>> That's fascinating.
Decision making in this type of community.
A lot of people working in development would
like to know how you do that.
In fact that's very interesting.
There is sort of like discussion.
There are people going around.
It is sort of like pretty much very democratic.
A couple of big men, men who are yam planters will go
and visit the others and discuss,
"When do you think that?"
It's in relation with, actually other ceremonies
in other village.
Because one the thing I haven't told you is
that the ceremony travels.
The first village in the east of the area is the first one
to have their ceremony around May,
and the following village goes, [inaudible] the east,
which is around September, and there is a succession.
So people make sure there is relation negotiation.
I mean a ceremony within a village kind
of implies the entire area,
and what is interesting is the trajectory
that I give you is also the trajectory in oral history
of migration and they consider all of that like yams.
Planting themselves.
>> Can I ask you something?
>> Yeah.
>> One of the most interesting things you said was the
materialization of relationship in this symbol,
this reality of the yam.
And then at the beginning,
you showed us a modern European situation
with the French minister looking at a big sheep, yams.
Or not yams.
>> Yeah, it was sheeps and onions and, yeah, yeah.
>> Do you think that there is something fundamental
in humanity expressed
by the French minister, and by your yams?
And if there is, is it a Jungian memory?
Or is it a gene?
>> You know, that's a really tricky question you're asking
here, right?
I'm not sure I'm gonna -- first of all, qualified to answer.
And I'm not really sure
that this is why I'm an anthropologist
to answer those question.
I'm interested in sort of like more looking at the way,
their own way of thinking about the world.
But I'll tell you something, and I'll give
that for food of thought.
I think it's in gestation today, the big advert
with a bottle of milk.
Another one which is on the side, right?
And this is a organic milk, made with no GM,
no nothing, et cetera.
And our interest for organic food, for example, and interest
for the way in which we eat,
in the form of sociality it embodies.
If you eat healthy, there is an assumption
that you are also a very healthy, social being,
that you are very good.
I am a smoker.
I drink wine.
Coffee, right, and this type of thing.
So from a social point of you, I get sort of, "You smoke?"
Pff. It's not good.
Not really a good social being.
So there is something about what we ingest and how we behave,
what we eat, or relationship with substance that we ingest,
and the way in which people evaluate forms of sociality.
>> Thank you very much [inaudible].
Two questions: can they be very short --
please, with short answers, [inaudible].
We have to go in three minutes.
>> Okay. Well, you already mentioned it shortly,
and I wanted to know
if you could elaborate a little bit more, about the importance
of yam in the language.
Yes, because I know for example in Cambodia,
if you have the word for rice, "by" [phonetic],
they use it as well for things like "food."
>> Yeah, yeah.
Exactly. "Ky" [phonetic] is a condiment, you can find
that in condiment, which is food.
So yeah. Ky, which is the name of the small yams are, yeah.
In terms of -- that's also one of the very interesting thing.
And no etymological studies have been done, but you can feel
from collecting words that it's right.
It's a fundamental part.
Yes, definitely.
There was this lady also on the top over there.
>> You haven't mentioned animals at all.
Yams somehow sacred, the animals can't eat them.
Is there some sort of spiritual interaction?
Do animals come into the scenario at all?
>> They do.
Birds. And before that, pigs.
Birds are very important,
and they also mention of earthworm, right?
Basically it's all about the relationship
between what the people --
when you follow the making of the yam,
you see all of that coming in part.
There are songs of birds, there are passages of bird.
They are all part of the -- yes, definitely.
And I'm not sure I would call yams sacred though.
Right? That's slightly different.
I think that's another type of artefact.
>> Good. Well, thank you very much indeed.
>> Thank you very much.
>> That was a wonderful lecture.
>> Thank you.
[Applause]