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Pills, Potions, Products: Kava’s Transformations in New and Nontraditional Contexts (2012)

Pills, Potions, Products: Kava’s Transformations in New and Nontraditional Contexts (2012)

  1. Calliope
    Pills, Potions, Products: Kava’s Transformations in New and Nontraditional Contexts (2012)

    The Contemporary Pacific, Volume 24, Number 2, Fall 2012, pp. 233-265 | 10.1353/cp.2012.0026

    Jonathan D. Baker

    Abstract: This article focuses on kava (Piper methysticum G. Forst, Piperaceae) in its various forms: plant, beverage, medicine, and dietary supplement. In the Pacific, where it was discovered by the ancestors of present-day Pacific Islanders, kava is grown to make a traditional drink that is used ceremonially, religiously, and socially; secondarily, it is a cash crop. The cultural significance of kava in Oceania, and in the Pacific Islander diaspora, is well documented (Lebot, Merlin, and Lindstrom 1992; Winter 2004). Here, however, I examine a relatively unexplored dimension of kava: the ways in which both its form and use are changing as it is introduced into new and different cultural contexts. Kava’s popularity outside Oceania has led to changes in how and why it is used, as well as transformations in the form in which people consume it.