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  Never Stand Alone: A Study of Borneo Sociality  

Christine Helliwell


Price $35.00

ISBN 1-929900-02-3



This monograph provides an account of sociality in a Dayak community in southwest Borneo, demonstrating the importance of both rice and ritualized hearths in the formation and maintenance of social relations there.  It is the first detailed ethnography to be published of a Dayak people from the southern part of Kalimantan Barat (Indonesian West Borneo), a region about which academics currently know very little.  It offers a further major contribution in three rather different areas of the literature.  Firstly, it suggests that the conventional stress in anthropological studies of Borneo societies on the household, both as the basis of social organization and as an independent unit, needs to be re-examined.  In this society, at least, not only is the household not a significant grouping, but it also would be quite erroneous to describe those groupings which are significant as independent from wider social networks. 

Secondly, the monograph challenges a number of more conventional anthropological approaches to the study of social organization -- including both the 'descent theory' model and Lévi-Strauss's "house society" model -- and, like the "new Melanesian ethnography," draws out the fundamental ethnocentrism of a focus on discrete social groups when analyzing social relations among peoples for whom individual, group and community may not be clearly demarcated.  Finally, it critiques aspects of the classical ethnographic method, and particularly its privileging of visual data, arguing that this predisposes us to understand social relations in certain limited terms.




Christine Helliwell is a native of Auckland, New Zealand, but currently resides in Canberra, Australia.  She has a Masters degree in Anthropology from the University of Auckland, and a Ph.D. from the Australian National University.  She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork among middle-class New Zealanders (in Auckland) and among Borneo Dayak people (in Kalimantan Barat).  She has published widely on the community of Gerai in Kalimantan Barat, the subject of the present volume.  Most of this published work is concerned not only to explicate Gerai practices and beliefs, but simultaneously to interrogate and critique the categories and assumptions underlying anthropological analyses of non-western (as well as western) peoples.

Christine Helliwell is Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at The Australian National University in Canberra.  She is currently writing a book on the concept of culture as used by anthropologists and other social scientists.



Notes on Orthography and Naming

1. Introduction: Rethinking Borneo Sociality

2. Rice in the Gerai Worls

3. Rice and the Rice Group

4. The Rice Group: Nurture and Need

5. The Ritual Hearth: Rice Group and Adat Community

6. The Rumah: Rice Group and Community of Neighbors

7. Conclusion





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