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The Life of the Longhouse
An Archaeology of Ethnicity

$48.99 (C)

  • Date Published: September 2012
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107407565

$ 48.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • For two centuries, travellers were amazed at the massive buildings found along the rivers that flow from the mountainous interior of Borneo. They concentrated hundreds of people under one roof, in the middle of empty rainforests. There was no practical necessity for this arrangement, and it remains a mystery. Peter Metcalf provides an answer by showing the historical context, using both oral histories and colonial records. The key factor was a pre-modern trading system that funneled rare and exotic jungle products to China via the ancient coastal city of Brunei. Meanwhile the elite manufactured goods traded upriver shaped the political and religious institutions of longhouse society. However, the apparent permanence of longhouses was an illusion. In historical terms, longhouse communities were both mobile and labile, and the patterns of ethnicity they created more closely resemble the contemporary world than any stereotype of “tribal” societies.

    • It is an integrated account of a whole region: dealing in the same framework with aspects of politics, trade, and religion
    • It melds ethnographic and historical data, the former from first-hand research in central Borneo, the latter from colonial and missionary records
    • It is the first study that directly answers the question: why do people in central Borneo live in longhouses?
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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2012
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107407565
    • length: 358 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
    • weight: 0.48kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: the problem: ethnicity and community
    Part I. Longhouses:
    1. Longhouses
    2. Longhouse communities
    3. The coming of the Brooke Raj
    Part II. Longhouses and Leaders:
    4. Aban Jau's career
    5. Aban Jau's successors
    Part III. Longhouses and Trade:
    6. The sultan's fence
    7. Pre-modern upriver trade
    Part IV. Longhouse Populations:
    8. The linguistic data
    9. Disease, slavery, assimilation, annihilation
    Part V. Longhouses and Ritual:
    10. The ritual consensus
    11. The ritual operator
    12. The impresarios of the ancestors
    Part VI. Longhouses and the State:
    13. Longhouses during the Raj
    14. Longhouses after the Raj
    Conclusion: the general and the particular.

  • Author

    Peter Metcalf, University of Virginia

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