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Look Inside Latah in South-East Asia

Latah in South-East Asia
The History and Ethnography of a Culture-bound Syndrome

Part of Publications of the Society for Psychological Anthropology

  • Date Published: June 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521031370


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About the Authors
  • Latah, the Malayan hyperstartle pattern, has fascinated Western observers since the late nineteenth century and is widely regarded as a 'culture-bound syndrome'. Dr Winzeler critically reviews the literature on the subject, and presents new ethnographic information based on his own fieldwork in Malaya and Borneo. He considers the biological and psychological hypotheses that have been proposed to account for latah, and explains the ways in which local people understand it. Arguing that latah has specific social functions, he concludes that it is not appropriate to regard it as an 'illness' or 'syndrome'.

    • The first comprehensive account of latah among Malayan peoples
    • New information on the culture of startle in South-east Asia
    • One of the very few published ethnographic and historical accounts of a culture-bound syndrome
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Winzeler's book is a well written and well documented monograph on a difficult topic, based on thorough research, carefully argued … convincing.' Bijdragen

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521031370
    • length: 192 pages
    • dimensions: 220 x 150 x 11 mm
    • weight: 0.29kg
    • contains: 3 maps 9 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Problem of Latah:
    1. The study of latah
    2. Latah, history and gender
    3. 'Latah' elsewhere
    Part II. Latah, Society and Culture:
    4. Latah in Kelantan: an overview
    5. Latah and Malay culture
    6. Symbolic meanings and social uses
    Part III. Borneo Comparisons and Perspective:
    7. Latah in Borneo
    8. Latah and the Iban
    Part IV. Conclusions:
    9. Explaining latah: paradigm and paradox, syndrome and ritual, nature and culture.

  • Author

    Robert L. Winzeler, University of Nevada, Reno

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