Longgu: Conceptualizing the human person from the inside out

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The Longgu people (Solomon Islands) conceptualize the human person as consisting of two parts, suli (‘body’) and anoa (roughly, ‘spirit’). Understanding the concept of anoa requires an understanding of other concepts, including agalo ‘ancestor spirit’ and Marapa, the place of ancestor spirits. This chapter discusses and explicates these culture-specific terms in Minimal English. The author argues that the conceptualization of the human person in Longgu can be described as seeing a human person ‘from the inside out’: rather than conceptualizing the human person as something visible (a body), with something invisible inside, Longgu people think in terms of what is inside (a ‘spirit’), and then as what can be seen on the outside (a body).The chapter contributes to the wider discussion of personhood in Melanesian societies. One of the most significant concepts in Melanesian anthropology is that of the Melanesian person as ‘dividual’ as opposed to the European person, who is ‘individual’. The dividual person is ‘permeable’, while the individual is ‘impermeable’. That is, the Melanesian concept of the human person is argued to be one that is less bound by the human body. The significance of spirits in the Longgu conceptualization of the human person points in the same direction.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHeart- and Soul-like constructs across languages, cultures and epochs
EditorsBert Peeters
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781351720045
ISBN (Print)9781138745308
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Linguistics


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