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  Journeys of the Soul: Anthropological Studies of Death, Burial, and Reburial Practices in Borneo  

William D. Wilder, Editor

Price $45.00

ISBN 1-929900-04-X



In this volume six anthropologists deal with a common theme: the many and various rituals surrounding human death. Their ethnographic papers not only testify to the benefits of new and intensive field research on Borneo, they also play to the important theories set out by Robert Hertz on the collective representation of death, an essay which laid the foundations for the analysis of mortuary customs in Borneo, to van Gennep's classic notion of rites of passage, and to more recent anthropological writings.

The societies of Borneo have long been known to ethnographers for such distinctive practices as secondary burial, longhouse feasts, headhunting, and the category of "bad death." Two of the societies represented in this volume - Kelabit and Punan Bah - have, or had until recently, the institution of secondary burial, that is, after a period of time the remains of the deceased person were retrieved and ceremonially reburied. Iban, Bidayuh, and Rungus people normally dispose of their dead once and once only. All except the Rungus are former headhunters.

Headhunting was abolished under colonial rule along with much of the violence that kept these stateless societies in flux. Furthermore, two of them - Kelabit and Bidayuh - have lost, or are rapidly losing, their mortuary traditions as a result of conversion to Christianity. Nonetheless, the authors are able to present, through judicious use of observed and recovered data, painstaking and richly detailed analyses of traditions concerning death and the fate of soul in five Borneo societies.

The volume is based on papers originally presented at a meeting of the American Anthropological Association in 1997, since revised and expanded. It is edited, introduced, and indexed by William D. Wilder. Three of the papers are extensively illustrated with field photographs.

Contributors: Matthew Amster, George and Laura Appell, Pamela Lindell, Ida Nicolaisen, Clifford Sather, and William Wilder.




Notes on Contributors

1. Introduction

Part One

2. Death among the Rungus Momogun of Sabah, Malaysia: The Dissolution of Personhood and Dispersion of the Multiple Souls and Spiritual Counterparts - George N. Appell and Laura W. R. Appell

3. Pillars of Faith: Souls, Fertility and Mortuary Rituals Among the Punan Bah of Central BorneoBA Preliminary Analysis - Ida Nicolaisen

4. Transformations of Self and Community in Saribas Iban Death Rituals - Clifford Sather

Part Two

5. Gender Complementarity and Death among the Kelabit - Matthew Amster

6. Cremation, Abandonment and Burial: Bidayuh Mortuary Practices and their Interpretations - Pamela Lindell




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