Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

After the Ancestors
An Anthropologist's Story


  • Date Published: February 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107477407

£ 15.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • Set on an isolated Indonesian island, this is the gripping true story of a fieldworker's experience of living in a tribal society during a period of crisis. Featuring a cast of unforgettable characters, After the Ancestors follows a bitter feud between rivals as it escalates into murder, intrigue and revenge. A vivid account of life within a radically different world, it also portrays a unique culture undergoing the transition from tribalism to modernity. A century of alien rule has left the island, once famous for its warrior ethos, with a hybrid culture. As the possibilities for heroic action recede, men raised to be orators and over-reachers rather than church elders and peasants find themselves occupying a stage too small for their personalities. 'Where can we turn', asks one tribesman, 'we who come after the ancestors?' A revenge tragedy for modern times, After the Ancestors will be enjoyed by anthropologists and general readers alike.

    • This account goes further than any previous anthropological work in developing a literary presentation, it employs a narrative approach that restores the (usually absent) human dimension of motive, feeling and idiosyncrasy
    • A richly illustrated account of one of Asia's most interesting traditional societies
    • This gripping insider account of total-immersion fieldwork, with its richly textured presentation of a tribal society, can be enjoyed by students, professionals and the general reader
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This is a marvellous book. Written in a narrative style far too rare in anthropology, it is a fascinating, enlightening and engaging story which deserves a wide readership.' Thomas Hylland Eriksen, University of Oslo

    'A beautifully told tale by a sharp-eyed anthropologist.' Jeremy MacClancy, author of Anthropology in the Public Arena (2013)

    'There is an epic tone to the story told in After the Ancestors, with its vast cast, its slow unfolding, and its deep tensions, and an almost Shakespearean quality …' Tim Hannigan, Review of Asian Books

    'This is a good story about real people, well told …' Joy Hendry, Times Higher Education

    'After the Ancestors belongs with works such as Tristes Tropiques, Clastres' Chronicle of the Guayaki Indians, Turnbull's day-and-night diptych of Forest People and Mountain People, and Descola's Spears of Twilight, though only Descola's approaches Andrew Beatty's new book for sheer depth of ethnographic detail … I hope this book will be read by a general audience. It is built on ethnographic work of quite phenomenal quality, and it largely succeeds in its efforts to move its readers and make us care about our protagonists … Maybe all ethnographers should at some point think about how they would write their fieldwork as a story, with emotive hooks and narrative arcs and, however messy, a beginning and an end. Not because all ethnography should be this way, but because it might help us crystallize what is 'human' in the big literary sense - emotionally compelling - about our work.' Anthropology of this Century (

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2015
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107477407
    • length: 372 pages
    • dimensions: 228 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.63kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus. 1 map
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    1. The statue
    2. House key
    3. Among women
    4. Blood brothers
    5. Daggers and debutants
    6. Stormy Sunday
    7. Three things that matter
    8. The making of great men
    9. A game of chess
    10. Cholera song
    11. Progress
    12. Strangers and brothers
    13. Exile and return
    14. Field work
    15. The chicken's neck
    16. Good deaths and bad deaths
    17. First family
    18. Blessing
    19. Half an egg
    20. Waiting
    21. Death of a chief
    22. Ama Jonah at bay
    23. Unravelling
    24. The ethnographer and his double

  • Author

    Andrew Beatty, Brunel University
    Andrew Beatty teaches in the Department of Anthropology at Brunel University.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.