Notes from the editor.
Derek Freeman died at the age of 84 on 6 July 2001 in Canberra, Australia. His death occurred on a Saturday. On the Monday morning that followed, when I opened my university email and learned the news, it happened that at the Institute of East Asian Studies we were then hosting a visit from Professor T'ien Ju-K'ang [or Tian Ru Kang], who, with Derek's passing, now becomes the last surviving member of the Colonial Social Science Research Council group, of which Freeman was, of course, a notable part, that pioneered modern social anthropology in what was then British colonial Borneo. It proved to be a memorable, if poignant, visit. Professor T'ien had always seemed to be the least likely of that distinguished group of scholars to outlive the others. At the height of the Cultural Revolution, he had disappeared, been tried (partly on a charge of "collaborating" with the British colonial government of Sarawak), been imprisoned and tortured, and assumed by many in the West to have been killed. But he survived, and in July 2001, as a venerable, but still active Professor of Sociology at Fudan University in Shanghai, he had returned to Sarawak at the invitation of the local Chinese community to speak of his earlier experiences and comment upon the changes that have taken place since his classic field study of a half century ago. Much like Derek Freeman, Professor T'ien has, throughout his life, shown little patience for dogma and has never shied away from controversial subjects. As evidence of the latter, he is now at work, he told us, on a study of Muslim minorities in southwestern China, a "sensitive" topic if ever there was one.
In a more personal vein, Professor James J. Fox, Director of the Research School of Asian and Pacific Studies at the Australian National University, the institution to which Derek Freeman was attached for virtually the whole of his professional career, in his eulogy of Derek delivered during a remembrance ceremony held in Canberra, told his audience that it was Derek who had personally persuaded him to come to the Australian National University. Derek had picked out the university-owned house on Red Hill, where the Foxes still live, had made sure that the university held it until they arrived, and had enrolled the Foxes' two sons in Canberra Grammar School. That was Derek's way. My own experience in going to ANU for three years as a visiting Senior Fellow was precisely the same. Prior to my arrival, Derek had flooded my mail with postcards, brochures, and books on Australian history, art, flora and fauna. He met me at the airport and at once took me on a tour of the mountaintops that surround Canberra, orienting me to the layout of that remarkable city whose landmarks recreate something surprisingly reminiscent of the sacred landscapes of Aboriginal Australia. After that, on frequent occasions over the next three years, morning walks with Derek on Black Mountain or excursions into the countryside surrounding the city of Canberra that he so dearly loved became among the most memorable experiences of my stay in Australia. In his eulogy, Jim Fox also told his audience of how Derek became a friend to his two sons, teaching them, among other things, how to shoot darts from an Iban blowpipe. Again, my own experience was much the same. In the late 1970s, Derek stayed with my family and me in Penang over a number of days. My children became at once devoted to him, calling him ever afterwards "Uncle Derek." Don Tuzin, in the "Remembering Derek Freeman" section that follows Jim's obituary, quite rightly points up Freeman's extraordinary generosity of spirit. However, it must be added that this side of his character was not always apparent. Derek could certainly be abrasive, even at times bullying, with those whose views he considered disingenuous or founded on error. He was never one to suffer fools in silence. But with children it was different. They seemed to have little trouble perceiving this generosity and tended to respond to it in kind.
When Derek visited Penang in 1978 he had already completed a draft of his Margaret Mead and Samoa book and, while there, he presented the main argument to a responsive audience during a specially-scheduled social science faculty seminar at the Universiti Sains Malaysia. He also gave a brilliant extemporaneous talk to my anthropology students on what Iban society can teach us about our human capacity to make choices. Later, in 1983, Freeman, of course, published Margaret Mead and Samoa, a work that immediately embroiled him in a continuing controversy which, for better or worse, absorbed the rest of his life. That year, at the 1983 annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association, a number of papers were presented on the controversy, nearly all of them hostile, many downright vitriolic, and, in perhaps the most shameful episode in the checkered history of the Association, a motion was passed which resolved that Freeman's work was "unscientific." It also required that the president of the AAA write a letter to the editors of Science 83, who had recommended Freeman's book as a holiday purchase to their readers, to protest their recommendation. As Freeman would point out in response, taking a vote was hardly the way in which questions of science are resolved. With what can only be described as compounded arrogance, the editor and officers of the American Anthropological Association devoted almost the entire December 1983 issue of the American Anthropologist to a one-sided attack on Freeman, denying him a commensurate, unedited space in which to reply. Sensibly, Freeman chose, instead, to respond in full in a special issue of Canberra Anthropology and continued to reply in various forums thereafter. In the final years of her life, Margaret Mead had become, in the American sense, a "celebrity" rather than a practicing anthropologist and, not insignificantly for the Association and its office holders, a milch cow of public funding, establishment influence, prestige and reputation. The virulent nature of much of the criticism directed at Freeman seemed only to bear out his view that Mead had come to assume a more-than-human status for many in the American anthropological profession.
Sadly, Freeman would spend the rest of his life answering his critics. In 1999, after careful scrutiny of the Margaret Mead Papers in the Library of Congress and from other sources, including interviews with Mead's Samoan informants, Derek wrote a detailed reconstruction of Margaret Mead's Samoan fieldwork, The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead (1999), which, he felt, essentially closed the controversy once and for all. Intellectually, he was no doubt right. The book offers what is probably the most detailed examination of how prior assumptions, training, and field experiences come to be translated into ethnographic analysis and description that has ever been written. However, it was a measure of Freeman's often remarkable naivety of real world intellectual politics that he could believe his book, for all that, would end the argument and satisfy his critics. Characteristically, in the last years of his life, after the appearance of far harsher critiques of her Balinese and New Guinea writings, Derek would become among the most steadfast defenders of Margaret Mead's integrity as a social scientist. For Derek, it was always the truth, not personalities, that mattered.
Regrettably, however, for the last twenty years of his life, Derek would never again return to his long-promised study of Iban religion, nor to fully formulate the social theory of choice, sketched in his earlier writings, that his Iban research had inspired.
Following Professor Fox's obituary, in "Remembering Derek Freeman," three of Derek's former students, Don Tuzin, Greg Acciaioli, and Michael Heppell, recall the kind of person he was and reflect on his influence in their lives and in the lives of others who knew him.
Here, I wish to thank Dr. Douglas Lewis of the University of Melbourne for allowing us to use the photograph of Derek Freeman that accompanies this memorial. Derek Freeman's original Iban field notes have been deposited in the Tun Jugah Foundation archives in Kuching, Sarawak. In the next issue of the BRB, I will report on this significant archival collection. Freeman's personal papers and correspondence, together with all of his Samoan research materials, have more recently been acquired by the University of California at San Diego and are now housed in the University's Mandeville Special Collections Library (for more on this collection, see my Brief Communication, "The Derek Freeman Papers," later in this issue of the BRB).
The second memorial section is devoted to Anthony Richards. Richards was appointed District Officer at Kapit in 1951, just as Derek Freeman and his wife Monica were completing their research in the Kapit District. Unlike some administrative officers of the time, Anthony appreciated the value of anthropological research, and he and Derek remained on amicable terms for the rest of their lives.
Anthony Richards, in a letter dated 23 May 2000 written to David Tham, a student of Sarawak colonial history, wrote, acknowledging some minor uncertainties of memory, "I'm afraid I grow old--86 by the end of this year-and, one of these days, my ancestors will come to fetch me home!" Anthony's ancestors did just that a few months later, and he died in Cambridge, England, where he and his family had settled after leaving Sarawak, on 15 November 2000, two weeks short of his 86th birthday.
Characteristically, these words of Anthony's were written in response to a request for information. Throughout his later years, Anthony was famously generous with his knowledge and, in one way or another, virtually everyone writing on Sarawak benefited. I know that I certainly did. Thus, Richards, in the same letter, goes on in response to a request for biographical information, to write: "I've never written memoirs--having seen so many very dreadful and dull ones when working at [the] South Asian Studies Centre here." He then proceeded, however, to tick off a few essentials which, for the record, are worth recording here: "Schools: Primary--a small 'Prep.' School near Chepstow. Then to King's (Cathedral) School at Worcester (c. 1929-34), then with a minor scholarship to Hertford College, Oxford. I did Classics at school, History at Oxford. In 1937, was accepted (with Bill--W.G.--Morison) by the Tuan Muda (Bertram Brooke) for service in Sarawak. We were sent back to Oxford for the 'Colonial' Course--lasting a year, but mostly geared to people going to Africa. So to Sarawak in 1938, arriving in Kuching on 9 September." According to the Sarawak Government Staff List, Richards was officially appointed a "Cadet" on 6 September 1938; in those faraway days of sea travel a European officer began his service upon arrival in Singapore.
Bob Reece's obituary supplies the significant details and a balanced measure of Anthony Richards' life, while some personal impressions by those who knew him in Sarawak, Temonggong Linang, Dato Tra Zehnder, and his life-long friend "Bill" Morison, can be found in the "Remembering Anthony Richards" section that follows.
After Anthony's death, the Richards family kindly donated his books, correspondence, personal papers and photographs to the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and the Tun Jugah Foundation libraries. Later in this issue, I indicate something of the content and significance of these gifts in two Brief Communications. In a third Brief Communication, Bob Reece describes a Saribas Malay syair manuscript included among Richards' unpublished papers, a copy of which is now deposited in the "AJN Richards Collection" at UNIMAS, and outlines the work now underway to translate and annotate this important document.
Also included among the unpublished papers in the gift made to UNIMAS were some brief autobiographical notes written by Anthony Richards in 1981. These describe his experiences as a Sarawak administrative officer and explain how he came to compile his encyclopedic An Iban-English Dictionary. Here, in tribute to Anthony, we open the Research Notes with an extended excerpt from these notes entitled "A.J.N. Richards: A Brief Autobiographical Note, 1981."
The second paper in this issue, by Andrew Smith of the University of Adelaide, "Missionaries, mariners, and merchants: overlooked British travelers to West Borneo in the early nineteenth century," reports on some lesser known travelers to West Borneo in the early decades
of the nineteenth century and speculates on the possible influence of early British travel reports on later events in Sarawak.
As promised in the last issue of the BRB, the two papers that follow return to a debate begun in the Bulletin in 1999 concerning the existence of a Dayak kingdom in what is now Kalimantan Barat. In the opening paper, Andrew Smith and Reed Wadley review the arguments in this debate and suggest that this confederation, or "Kingdom of the Upriver," was probably more symbolic than political in nature. The second, companion paper, "Re-emergence of the Raja Hulu Aiq," by John Bamba, Director of the Institute of Dayakologi, provides contemporary evidence in support of this suggestion, while at the same time it depicts the present "Kingdom of the Upriver," centered in the Ketapang area of West Kalimantan, and its present spiritual head, the Raja Hulu Aiq, against a background of contending economic and political interests. Bamba's material is particularly interesting in light of the reassertion of various forms of local ritual and political authority now occurring throughout post-Suharto Indonesia.
Moving on to South and Central Kalimantan, Martin Baler, in the next paper, "Contributions to Ngaju history," surveys some sources of Ngaju ethnography and history, particularly missionary authors of the last century, some of whom, he argues, are now undeservedly neglected.
Kenneth Sillander, in the significant, substantive paper that follows, "Houses and Social Organization among the Bentian of East Kalimantan," returns us to some basic concerns in the social anthropology of Borneo, namely, to the social organization of "houses," or house groups, including, not the least, the classic longhouse, and to the structure and makeup of local communities. As he rightfully notes, residential patterns in Borneo are often dual or even multiple, and a variety of house-like groups may be interposed between the family and the village. In a fruitful way, Sillander also re-explores the usefulness in a Bornean context of Levi-Strauss's notion of "house societies" (societi a maison) and challenges the view that longhouse-like social groupings are absent from southern Kalimantan. Also interesting is his account of the association of the multifamily lou with local leadership and with the presence of the longan, a ritual structure specifically associated with ancestral skulls and other enduring ancestor-related objects. For the Bentian, the skulls of ancestors are ritually distinguished from the skulls of enemies taken in warfare.
John Postill's paper, "The mediated production of ethnicity and nationalism among the Iban of Sarawak, Part II," is the second installment of a two-part paper. The first installment appeared in the last issue of the BRB and traced the role of radio broadcasting and the Borneo Literature Bureau in a project which Postill aptly describes as meant by its Iban actors "to preserve and modernize the Iban heritage." This project was brought to an end when the Malaysian government replaced the Borneo Literature Bureau with Sarawak and Sabah branches of the Dewan Pustaka dan Bahasa, each controlled from KL and organized to promote the use of Bahasa Malaysia. This new paper looks at what Postill calls the "second phase of Iban media production." This phase, covering the time period of 1977 to 1997, has witnessed, on the one hand, the growing Malaysianization of the media, with national television replacing locally-based radio, and, on the other, the creation of a new Iban cultural industry, centered chiefly in Sibu, particularly in the form of popular music, notably cassette recordings, CDs, and videos, including hugely popular Iban karaoke videos. During the recent Gawai Dayak, my wife and I, while guests in a Saribas longhouse, had occasion to discover just how popular Iban music videos have become as a source of entertainment. In an interesting way they make it possible for Iban viewers to restore Iban language and images to TV screens from which they are otherwise excluded by the national Malaysian media. The present paper includes the complete bibliography of references cited in both installments of the author's paper.
The appearance of John Postill's paper is particularly timely. In the present installment, Postill notes that, "With the demise of the BLB [Borneo Literature Bureau] ... [and the destruction of an indigenous print media] ... Iban-language Christian texts have acquired greater significance as cultural repositories among the more literate Iban." Today, indeed, by far the most widely read book in the Iban language is the Iban translation of the bible, called Bup Kudus. Introduced in 1988, Bup Kudus has been used now for over a decade in Iban churches of every Christian denomination in Sarawak. However, in April 2003, just as the BRB was being readied for the printers, the Malaysian Home Ministry, without explanation, banned Bup Kudus. The ban was reported in the New Straits Times and Malaysian Today, but otherwise went, initially at least, unreported in the Sarawak press. Church leaders, not only Iban, but of other ethnic groups, quickly mobilized and drew up a united petition which they submitted to the Home Ministry, and, after a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, they succeeded in having the ban rescinded. However, the episode raised fears in Sarawak, not only about the freedom of religion, but also about the future status of minority languages in the state.
In the final Research Note in this issue, "A short history of birds' nest management in the Niah caves," Quentin Gausset traces the breakdown of a traditional and seemingly sustainable system of nesting-area tenure and management, resulting in what today has become a tragic situation of over-harvesting of nests and a rapid decline in swiftlet populations, now to the edge of extinction. A special virtue of Gausset's paper is the way in which he carefully notes and distinguishes between the different factors that appear to contribute to this tragedy, including not only the destruction of a traditional system of nesting-area tenure, but also, among other things, changes in the market demand for nests, the conversion of the surrounding forests to oil palm plantations and the resulting importation of migrant laborers and the heavy use of pesticides.
Once again, I take this occasion to thank all of those who assisted me during the year with review and editorial help, or who contributed news or bibliographic items. The list, as always, is a long one and this year includes: Sander Adelaar, George Appell, Dee Baer, Martin Baier, Carol Colfer, Hew Cheng Sim, Allison Hoare, Terry King, Michael Leigh, Ole Mertz, Heidi Munan, Keat Gin Ooi, Vernon Porritt, Bob Reece, Bernard Sellato, Andrew Smith, Vinson Sutlive, Tan Chee-Beng, David Tham, Donald Tuzin, Reed Wadley, and Robert Winzeler. Again, David Tham provided invaluable help with photo scanning. My special thanks go, once again, to Dr. Phillip Thomas (the National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, Maryland, USA), who single-handedly performed the daunting task of computer processing all of the text, tables, and photographs included in this volume. My wife, Louise Sather, again helped me to proofread and edit the entire issue. To all, my thanks.
The BRC's Seventh Biennial Conference
Finally, also appearing in this issue of the BRB is a report on the Borneo Research Council's Seventh Biennial Conference, "21st Century Borneo," which was sponsored by the Universiti Malaysia Sabah and held on the University's impressive new Kota Kinabalu campus over three days, 15-18 July, 2002. More than 180 papers were given, as well as five panel sessions. All were presented in the meeting rooms and auditorium facilities of the new UMS Library. In addition to providing the conference venue, the Library also announced the establishment of a special Borneo collection and on behalf of the Borneo Research Council, BRC President Dr. George N. Appell presented a complete set of BRC publications to the Library, including the BRB. Here we wish to thank the sponsors, organizing committee, and all of those who took part for making the conference, once again, a resounding success.
At the moment, planning is underway for the Eighth Biennial Conference, which is scheduled to be held in July 2004 in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan.
A New Borneo Research Council Email Address and Website
The BRC is pleased to announce that there is, first, a new Borneo Research Council email address: <email@example.com>.
Second, the Council has initiated a new website complete with BRC information: <www.borneoresearchcouncil.org>.
On the website are listed all the publications and their prices that are offered through the Council. There is also a section where those wanting to find out what other fellows and members are doing can post messages. If, for example, you would like to obtain some pointers on developing your research or are looking for other scholars with similar interests, by posting a message on the website, someone may be able to help you out. Also posted on the website are past yearly reports of the president, printable book order forms, and printable membership invoices. If there are other things that you would like to see on the website, send an email with your suggestions to <firstname.lastname@example.org>. We would like to hear from you. Maintaining and operating the new site will incur an added expense to the Council of about US$250 per year.
A New Online Bibliography of Borneo Dissertations
The BRC has now begun an online bibliography of doctoral dissertations on Borneo. The bibliography has been developed in part from existing bibliographies and databases of dissertations, but it can also be augmented by authors of new or overlooked dissertations or by others who may know of dissertations that are not currently included. Once it is posted as a permanent part of the list, bibliographic information on dissertations may be retrieved in several ways. The general goal is to include dissertations in all fields from all universities provided that the dissertation concerns Borneo to some substantial extent or that it contains substantial information on Borneo.
The address of the website is <http://www2.library.unr.edu/dataworks/ Borneo/default.htm>.
The bibliography is maintained by Bob Winzeler and is hosted by the University of Nevada, Reno, Library's DataWorks. A pilot version of the website is now up. Please send comments or suggestions to Bob Winzeler <email@example.com> and submit information on dissertations directly to the website.
As of February 2003, the Editor is pleased to report that about 230 dissertations were already listed on the website, most of them so far, although by no means all, from American and Canadian universities. We are grateful to Bob for undertaking this useful project and would especially welcome information on Asian and European dissertations. Also, anyone wishing to assist with this project should contact Bob directly.
A Change in BRB Reprint Policy
Finally, the Executive Committee of the Borneo Research Council has, with reluctance, decided upon a change of policy with regard to reprints of papers from the Borneo Research Bulletin. In the past, we have provided reprints free upon request. However, in view of rising postage and other costs, a flat fee of USD 5 will now be charged for each reprint requested. This fee includes postage.
Here we wish to record our thanks to the following individuals for their contribution during the year 2002 to the BRC endowment and general funds:
Dr. Gale Dixon, Mr. James McLellan, Dr. Clare Boulanger, Dr. Amity Doolittle, Mr. Patrick Cassels, Mrs. Laura Appell-Warren, Dr. Michael R. Dove, Professor H. Arlo Nimmo, Dr. Reed Wadley, Dr. W. D. Wilder, Ms. E. Kim Adams, Mr. Ralph Arbus, Dr. Carol Warren, Dr. Allen Maxwell, and Dr. Jay B. Crain.
Professor Virginia Hooker, Dr. Clare Boulanger, Dr. Yoshiyuki Kiyono, Dr. Amity Doolittle, Mrs. Laura Appell-Warren, Professor Ian Douglas, Dr. Jack Stuster, Dr. Gale Dixon, Dr. Michael R. Dove, Dr. Bernard Sellato, Ms. Vicki Pearson-Rounds, Professor F. Andrew Smith, Dr. Leigh Wright, Dr. W. D. Wilder, Dr. Otto Doering, Dr. Graham Saunders, Dr. Carol J. Colfer, Mr. Ralph Arbus, Dr. Phillip Thomas, Dr. Carol Warren, Dr. Anne Schiller, Dr. Rodney Needham, Dr. Martin Baier, Ms. Dorothy Chin, Mr. Chew Lun Chan, Dr. George N. Appell, and Mrs. Laura W. R. Appell.
We thank all of these individuals for their support.
Change of Editor's Address
Please note that your editor has left the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak and returned to the University of Helsinki. His new address is:
Prof. Clifford Sather, Cultural Anthropology, P.O. Box 59 (Unioninkatu 38D), 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. Email: <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
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|Publication:||Borneo Research Bulletin|
|Date:||Jan 2, 2002|
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