Mary Good and I have organized an informal session for the Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania meetings in 2015. The session is titled Friendship: Subjectivity, Idioms of Relationality and Change.
While kinship is widely regarded as a classic domain of ethnographic research, other crucial relationships – including friendships and peer-oriented relationships – have received relatively less anthropological attention until recent decades. Relationships between peers, whether friends, colleagues or trading partners, also have significant impact in the creation and maintenance of contemporary communities and publics. Friendships and other intimate relationships can be taken as overlapping the realm of kinship (in the case of relatives with whom close friendships are shared), but range more broadly to encompass forms of sociality extending beyond filial bonds. In the Pacific region, friendships and peer relationships have been a critical part of expanding linguistic and social networks, carrying out symbolic and economic trading activities, and building political connections. In recent years, many of these relationships have emerged as responses to global changes in expectations about aging, gender, and sociality as well as transformations in economic, urban, and educational contexts. Scholarship also suggests such relationships, under conditions or contexts of change, might develop in particularly globalized forms, including egalitarian friendship.