The Tolai are among the most distinctive of Papua New Guinea's indigenous peoples. For all their success in the pursuit of modernity, the Tolai remain traditional in their attitudes toward death, the cultural elaboration of which colors almost every aspect of their existence.
In his new book, A. L. Epstein develops an emotional profile of the Tolai, contending that societies are distinguished as much by the shape of their emotional life as they are by their social arrangements and cultural styles. Epstein describes a wide range of mourning ceremonies and other more and less public occasions. By investigating not only the words that stand for emotions but also the way affect enters into and informs people's conduct, he charts a new course for ethnography that seeks to integrate the study of the emotions into anthropological analysis.