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.