A Cambridge anthropologist in Borneo: the A.C. Haddon Photographic Collection, 1898-1899.
While the Torres Strait Expedition has been immortalized in the annals of anthropological history, a lesser known fact is that five of its members, including Haddon himself, passed through Borneo on their way back to England. They spent much of their visit in the Baram area as guests of the District Resident, Charles Hose, staying at his bungalow in Marudi and making several upriver trips to surrounding longhouse communities and bazaars. When they returned to England in April 1899, they brought with them a large range of native crafts, cloths, weapons and skulls, and several hundred photographs. Many of these artifacts ended up in what is now the University of Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA), which was established in 1884 and holds some of the world's most important and extensive ethnographic collections.
The photographs on which this paper focuses were taken by different members of the Expedition, each of whom carried his own camera in addition to the official photographic equipment (Edwards 1998:110). Over time, these negatives, prints, and lantern slides were subsumed within the Museum's substantial but disorganized "A.C. Haddon - Borneo" collection--which is how I discovered them while cataloguing photographs in 2007. At the time, my remit was to create database entries for Charles Hose's massive photographic collection, copies of which had been deposited--and in some cases, personally labeled by Hose--in the Museum. A database search, however, unveiled several hundred further entries relating to photographs of Borneo which Haddon had taken or collected. Many of these were duplicates made at various points over the last century. In 1935, for example, the Museum marked Haddon's eightieth birthday by presenting him with new prints of all the photographs he had donated to it over the years. Haddon bequeathed this gift to the Museum, leaving it with several thousand mounted prints stored in beautiful, custom-made wooden cabinets, to which researchers still have access today. A closer survey of the photographs (2) suggested that there were at least five hundred distinctive images of the Expedition's time in Borneo. Of these, 186 were documentary photographs of Iban fabrics in the Sarawak Museum's collection. The other images cover a vast assortment of subjects, including longhouses and landscapes, indigenous rituals, river scenes, prominent local leaders, clothing and artifacts, bodily decoration, and Charles Hose's idiosyncratic style of governance.
While Haddon's Torres Strait photographs have been widely reproduced in scholarly books and articles, and more recently, disseminated among Tortes Strait Islanders, his Bornean photographs have seen little light of day. Some were reproduced in Charles Hose's magisterial Pagan Tribes of Borneo (1912)--co-authored with William McDougall, one of the Expedition members--and William Henry Furness' The Home-Life of Bornean Headhunters (1902). Others were used in Haddon and Start's Iban or Sea Dayak Fabrics and their Patterns (1936), as well as Haddon's popular narrative of his journeys in the Torres Strait and Borneo, Head-hunters: Black, White and Brown (1901). However, none of these brief appearances do justice to the sheer range of themes, settings and situations captured by the Expedition members during their visit. To understand why they chose to photograph what they did, we need to turn briefly to the historical and institutional context in which the Expedition took place.
Anthropology at a turning point: the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Straits
Like many other early anthropologists, Haddon veered into the discipline by mistake. This was hardly surprising, given that anthropology at the end of the nineteenth century had yet to be established as a proper university discipline. Indeed, it had yet to acquire the fieldwork-based form with which we are familiar today, for its tendency was to hold apart empirical evidence-gathering and theoretical analysis rather than draw them together. Academic anthropology--or more specifically, ethnology, the comparative study of the origin, spread and evolution of human societies--remained the preserve of "armchair anthropologists" like James Frazer and Edward B. Tylor, who wrote compellingly about the customs, rituals, beliefs and languages of faraway peoples they had never encountered. Their primary data, however, came from networks of missionaries, scientists, administrators, traders, and others who, through their travels and experiences, had amassed important collections of artifacts, data and firsthand knowledge of "primitive" peoples.
In the latter half of the nineteenth century, academic anthropologists became ever more convinced of the need to guide and systematize these far-off-collecting efforts. Consequently, various scholarly establishments began issuing sets of instructions, such as Notes and Queries in Anthropology (1870-1920), on what to ask, record, and observe in "primitive" settings. These publications--effectively nascent fieldwork manuals--revealed a growing desire for "accurate anthropological observation" which would contribute to the "scientific study of anthropology at home" (Notes and Queries 1874: iv). in many ways, however, the professionalizing impulses that spawned their creation would also lead to their demise. By the end of the nineteenth century, when Haddon and his team left for the Torres Strait, anthropology was increasingly coming to be seen as a natural science rather than, as was previously the case, "a pleasant hobby" (Urry 1972: 48). in this new guise, it could no longer rely on the well-meaning but unprofessional endeavors of amateur collectors. What was needed was a new generation of "academically trained natural scientists" (Stocking 1992:20) who would collect facts and data on human societies in an appropriately rigorous, systematic manner.
Alfred Haddon certainly fit this criterion. As an undergraduate, he studied zoology at Christ's College, Cambridge (finishing in 1879), and later taught the subject at the Royal College of Science in Dublin. In 1888, possibly to "escape what seemed after seven years the dead end of a provincial professorship" (Stocking 1992:21), he visited the Tortes Strait to study its coral reefs and marine life. His initial interest in marine biology, however, soon gave way to a deep fascination with the ethnography of the area (Stocking 1992: 21; Griffiths 2002: 130), and in particular, the need to record aspects of social life and customs "before 'it was too late'" (Herle and Rouse 1998: 3). This evolutionist concern with "salvage ethnography"--what he saw as "our bounden duty to record the physical characteristics, the handicrafts, the psychology, ceremonial observances and religious beliefs of vanishing peoples" (Haddon 1897: 306)--remained a guiding force throughout his fieldwork and professional life. Following his 1888 fieldtrip, Haddon turned increasingly to studying and teaching anthropology. While retaining his duties in Dublin, he began giving freelance lectures in physical anthropology to students in medicine and natural sciences at the University of Cambridge, where he saw the potential for creating "an institutional niche" for the subject (Rouse 1998:52).
One way to do this, he hoped, was to organize a major anthropological expedition (Rouse 1998:56). With the support of leading university figures, he set about arranging a trip to the area which had first captured his interest: the Tortes Strait. The expedition, which took place between April and November 1898, was a milestone in anthropology, for it collapsed what had previously remained its two distinct facets: empirical data-gathering and scholarly analysis. In this way, it "bypassed" the traditional middlemen-collectors and "place[d] specialised experts directly in touch with the natives" (Urry 1972: 50). The expedition's methods were influenced by scientific models of data-gathering (Herle and Rouse 1998:15), which Haddon encapsulated with a term then prevalent in the natural sciences: "fieldwork" (Stocking 1992: 27). In later years, he would become a strong advocate of this undertaking as the methodological and analytical foundation of anthropology. He thus laid the foundation for the discipline's growing self-identification as the "intensive study of limited areas" (Stocking 1992: 27): a slogan which would later find its fullest expression in the groundbreaking work of Bronislaw Malinowski (1922).
Who were the men who accompanied Haddon to this remote corner of the world? None was an ethnologist in the mold of Frazer or Tylor; most had strong scientific or medical backgrounds. W.H.R. Rivers was a physician and psychologist who conducted vision experiments in the field. During this stint he developed his "genealogical method" of recording kin and social relations (1910), which would later cement his position in the pantheon of great anthropologists. William McDougall, who later became a leading experimental psychologist in America, was also a physician and a former student of both Haddon and Rivers at Cambridge; his work during the expedition focused on the study of tactile sensation. His name will be familiar to Bornean scholars for having appeared with Charles Hose's on The Pagan Tribes of Borneo (1912)--a publication to which he appears to have chiefly contributed his academic standing rather than in-depth ethnographic knowledge.
Charles Myers, another ex-pupil of Haddon and Rivers, was a physician and later the first lecturer in Experimental Psychology at Cambridge; during the expedition, he mainly conducted hearing experiments and made various audio recordings. Charles Seligman, who also became a renowned anthropologist, had a medical background; he studied native medicines, poisons, and pathology during fieldwork. Sidney Ray, a schoolteacher, was the expedition's linguist, drawing on his self-taught expertise of Oceanic languages. Finally, there was Anthony Wilkin, then an undergraduate student of Haddon, who had done some archaeological work in Egypt. He was put in charge of the photographic equipment and processes, although much of the photography itself was orchestrated by Haddon (Edwards 1998:110). Haddon, meanwhile, concentrated on taking physical measurements of Islanders, recording local customs and studying decorative art.
The Cambridge Expedition entailed the study of human society in its most encompassing sense, through a medium--fieldwork--which has since become integral to anthropology. Audio-visual material was central to this endeavor; and photography may be seen as an extension, or at least an analogue, of sketches, diagrams and other visual modes of apprehending their surroundings. Indeed, Elizabeth Edwards suggests that for Haddon,
drawing, inscribing and photographing were part of the tradition of scientific recording which, through its realism, could explain the real world. In intellectual terms drawing and photography represented alternative routes to the revelation of truth (1998: 110).
This view would have reflected the prevailing tendency within Euro-American scientific circles to treat vision as "the paradigm of privileged knowledge" (Pinney 1992: 80). New visual technologies such as the camera and the cinematograph--one of which also went on the Torres Strait Expedition (Griffiths 2002: 128)--were seen to guarantee a sort of "unmediated objectivity" (Edwards 1998:127) by virtue of the fact that they simply recorded what there was. Consequently, the Expedition's photographs were treated not as "mere illustration but ... an integral part of the presentation, proof and transmission of evidence" (Edwards 1998: 120). It is thus unsurprising, Edwards suggests, that their photographic equipment came from the prestigious London firm, Newman and Guardia, and represented the latest in cutting-edge technology (1998: 107).
At the same time, Haddon and his team used audio-visual technologies as modes of social interaction (Edwards 1998: 122). The group frequently entertained the Islanders with lantern slide-shows, and often held viewing sessions of photographs which Haddon had taken back in 1888, as well as images captured hours or days earlier. They took pictures at weddings (Edwards 1998: 123), and on one occasion, were asked by a grieving father, Waria, to photograph his newly-deceased son "in order that he might not forget what he was like. Of course we did this for him" (Haddon 1901: 123). The phonograph also proved popular with their informants and contacts (Haddon 1901:338) for its ability to play both tunes brought from England and audio recordings captured in the field. Haddon recalled that "the natives were never tired of listening to the machine, and fully appreciated singing into it, and were very delighted at hearing their songs repeated by it" (1901:234). By the time the Expedition members left the Torres Strait, they had accumulated seven months' worth of photographs, several short films, and hundreds of sound recordings. Some of the equipment, including cameras and the phonograph, went with them to Borneo, where a similar, if less rigorously systematic, process of documentation would take place.
Haddon goes to Borneo, 1898-1899
The Torres Strait Expedition's visit to Borneo may have had its roots in the early 1890s, when Charles Hose, then on home leave, met Haddon at London's Royal Anthropological Institute (Rouse 1998: 60). At the time, Hose--who had entered the Sarawak Civil Service in 1884--had recently become Resident of Sarawak's Baram District (1891), and was in the process of establishing himself as a respectable scientist, a "naturalist, anthropologist, and geographer, in Sarawak and elsewhere" (Hose 1994: 15). When news of the planned Tortes Strait Expedition--which was well-publicized in national broadsheets and other channels (Rouse 1998:61)--reached him in 1897, he seized the chance to cultivate further connections with an internationally-regarded scientist and academic. He wrote to Haddon in England, inviting him to visit Sarawak, "promising a guided trip up the Baram River to visit some peoples who, at the time, had little exposure to Europeans" (Rouse 1998: 60-61). (3) Haddon later wrote that "I received such a pressing and enthusiastic invitation from Mr. Charles Hose ... that I felt constrained to extend the scope of our work by accepting his tempting offer" (1899: 413). He agreed to pass through Sarawak on the way home.
In all, five members of the team ended up spending time in Borneo. (4) Myers and McDougall left the Torres Strait on 24 August 1898, arriving in Borneo in September. Over the next few months, they stayed with Hose in Marudi, making trips to upriver communities, collecting artifacts, attending rituals, and witnessing first-hand Hose's personal brand of paternalistic rule (Durrans 1994: xx-xxii). Myers returned to Europe on 4 January 1899, just missing Haddon, Ray and Seligman, who had arrived in Kuching (via Hong Kong and Singapore) on 12 December. The later arrivals remained in the capital for three weeks, with Ray busy studying Malay, Seligman visiting Land Dayak communities in the First Division, and Haddon--who stayed with the curator of the Sarawak Museum, Robert Shelford--photographing and studying a large number of Iban fabrics in the Museum (Haddon 1901: 279-280). One of the highlights of their time here was the annual Kuching Regatta on the Sarawak River on 2 January, of which many photographs exist.
On 4 January, Haddon, Ray, and Seligman sailed towards the Baram via Sibu and Limbang, visiting villages, a Malay sago factory and even Brunei for the day. From Limbang (where they were hosted by the Resident, O.F. Ricketts) they took a steamer, then a party of smaller boats, along the Madalam, Malinau, and Tutau [Tutoh] Rivers, visiting more villages, camping on riverbanks and even getting tattooed at Umu [Uma] Belubu by the mother-in-law of the chief, Balu Long, who was "perhaps the best tattooer in the Baram District" (Haddon 1901: 305). At Long Linai, they met the government river steamer, Lucille, which brought them to Marudi (Claudetown) on 28 January, where they were reunited with McDougall. Thus began their three-month stay in the area as guests of Hose, who brought them on a number of upriver trips as he carried out his administrative responsibilities. On these excursions, they met various local luminaries--Hose's firmest political allies, such as the Kenyah chief Tama Bulan and the Berawan leader Aban Abit (5)--collected an assortment of objects, including skulls (Haddon 1901: 337-338), stone hooks, and boar's tusks (Haddon 1901: 370), witnessed several rituals, made measurements and physical observations of a cross-section of the population, and climbed Mount Dulit, the highest point of which Hose named "Cambridge Peak" (Haddon 1901: 346-348). Their stay culminated in a brilliantly orchestrated display of Hose's political prowess: the Marudi Peace Conference, which from 8 to 13 April brought together (what Hose estimated were) six thousand inhabitants from throughout the region, including Kenyahs, Kayans, Lirongs, Ibans, and Madangs, in a general peace-meeting (Hose 1900: 52). The group left for England shortly afterwards, clearly impressed with Hose's skill at governance as well as the Brooke Raj as a whole, which Haddon described as "honestly endeavour[ing] to help the people to govern themselves and [assist] them towards a gradual bettering of their condition" (1901 : 294).
Haddon and his colleagues took photographs at every stage of their Bornean sojourn. Despite coming at the end of their main stint in the Tortes Strait, this remained a scientific, research-oriented trip: one which garnered enough objects, photographs, and documentation for Haddon to assert soon after returning that "[w]e have now in Cambridge specimens to fairly well illustrate the arts and crafts of the natives of Sarawak" (1899: 415). His report on the Expedition in Nature noted that Ray had amassed material on Land and Sea Dayak languages and the vocabularies of over 200 words in 46 dialects, that Myers had made various physiological observations, that Seligman had studied native medicines, poisons and other substances, that McDougall had looked at "the question of the relations of men to animals and plants," and that he had made measurements and physical observations of 276 natives from a variety of groups (Haddon 1899: 415).
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In this regard, Haddon's Bornean photographs--particularly the plainly anthropometric ones--may be construed as visual offshoots of their overarching anthropological interests. Yet there are also numerous images which lie closer to the "travelogue" end of the spectrum, many of which exude a remarkable sense of ease and candidness. Looking through them, one gets the impression that their authors--and we know from inscriptions on the MAA prints that at least Myers, Haddon, and Seligman were taking photographs--were also simply taking pleasure in their surroundings as (privileged) tourists. Here, they were primarily guests in an unfamiliar land, reliant on the knowledge, goodwill, and connections of their redoubtable, no doubt solicitous, host. Sandra Rouse suggests that Haddon "enjoyed tremendously" the months he spent in Sarawak, for "[b]y then he considered the official phase of the Expedition successfully completed and he was relieved of much of the leadership responsibility" (1998: 61). Perhaps the photographs reflect some of that prevailing mood.
Take, for example, an image (P.5051.ACH1; Fig. 1) whose MAA catalogue card reads "Iban family bathe, Marudi," and which was later reproduced in Haddon's Head-Hunters (1901). Standing waist-deep in a river is a semi-naked man, slightly blurred in movement, who smiles widely at the camera as he holds an infant child in the water. Close to him, looking somewhat more chary, is a woman, possibly his wife; while two naked boys, one of whom flashes the photographer a toothy grin, squat on the bank nearby. Behind them, an older man prepares to enter the water. The subjects of the photograph are by no means unaware of the camera; indeed, they engage with it with a candor that could not have been stage-managed. Equally intriguing is what appears to be a scene from the obstacle race held on the second day of the Marudi Peace Conference (P.41540): an event which, Haddon recalls, "caused great amusement" (1901: 402). in it, a man wearing a full white suit and helmet--possibly Hose or R.S. Douglas, his second-in-command--runs down a small grassy slope with his arms raised, probably in response to a large splash caused by some people who have just jumped from a "crazy staging" (Haddon 1901: 402) into the pond at its base. One man can be seen swimming across the water toward the other bank as other white-suited figures (probably the Expedition members) and a clutch of attendees look on. Photographs such as these punctuate the Haddon Borneo collection, reflecting as strong an interest among the Expedition members in capturing specific, memorable moments and relations on their travels as in producing scientific objects.
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The Borneo photographs: a themed selection
Unlike some of Hose's meticulously staged photographs from the same period (e.g. Wilder 1968: 432) or the photographic re-enactments of myth and past practices which Haddon orchestrated in the Torres Strait (Edwards 1998), many of the Expedition's Bornean images are straightforward records of their trip. Travel itself was a source of considerable interest. There are, for example, several pictures of the small canopied boats which brought Haddon and his colleagues up the narrower stretches of river; these often had to be pulled or paddled vigorously across rapids (P.50172.ACH2; Fig. 2). Their entourage on these journeys, consisting of a mixture of Ibans, Malays and others, also featured in these records, poling boats or taking breaks along the way. As they traveled, the group photographed numerous landscapes and landmarks, including a view of the Limbang River from Ricketts' residence (P.4946.ACH1), various longhouses, such as the one at Long Linai (R5008.ACH1), bazaars (P.50254.ACH2), Brooketon (Muara; P.50224. ACH2), and the fort at Marudi (P.4976.ACH1).
Haddon and his team did of course retain an interest in the people they met as scientific or ethnological specimens. Within the collection are numerous side and frontal portraits of people, mainly men, often sitting on a stool or standing stiffly, sometimes in poses that highlight aspects of their physiognomy or bodily decorations. No picture captures this better than R5075.ACH1 (Fig. 3), which clearly shows the shadow of the photographer falling over the path next to two Punan men. Meanwhile, another photograph (P.50207.ACH2) shows the side profile of a middle-aged man in a loincloth seated on a high wooden stool holding his tattooed right hand up to his cheek. The reverse of the MAA print reads: "Hand and leg tatued of Tingang a Sibop Chief", "1/2 a Kenyah" and "Sarawak." Haddon recounts meeting Tingang in February en route to what was probably Long Julan, (6) when he asked Hose to mediate in a dispute between him and his wife (1901:363-364). There is no mention, however, of Haddon taking any measurements or photographs of Tingang, although at least three exist in the collection. These and other similar images stand as insistent reminders of the power imbalances at play throughout the Expedition's trip. However well-meaning Hose and Haddon were, these encounters were not meetings of equals, but framed within a situation of colonial (or rather, Brooke) rule. Whatever their relations with the government, these subjects probably had very little choice over whether to pose for the Baram Resident's guests.
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The description of Tingang as "1/2 a Kenyah" also reflects a certain "typological zeal" (Durrans 1994: viii) fanned in part, 1 suspect, by Hose. Many inscriptions on the reverse of the original prints refer to--or at least take a good stab at--the ethnic or tribal designation of their subjects. As Hose's impressive taxonomical efforts in The Pagan Tribes of Borneo (1912) reveal, amassing a list of Sarawak's different and often complex ethnicities and tribes was one of his long-standing projects. Yet, as anthropologists and historians have since shown (e.g. Babcock 1974; Boulanger 2009; King 1993; Rousseau 1990), this ambition was challenging at best, and ill-fated at worst. On this "checkerboard pattern of ethnic units distributed randomly through the vagaries of migration," as Rousseau once described central Borneo (1990:1), place names and linguistic groupings overlapped problematically with ethnic and political ones, while people themselves constantly straddled or cut across these apparent boundaries. Nevertheless, Hose's efforts at identifying and demarcating corporate identities--including the "rag-bag category" (Metcalf 2002: 93) of "Klemantan," under which he drew a diverse group of nonMuslim natives who wouldn't fit into his other categories (Hose and McDougall 1993, vol. 1: 42)--appear to have influenced Haddon and his colleagues, who adopted his terminology when labeling their prints. They have thus left us with penciled descriptions such as "Klemantan group, Murik, Sarawak" (P.50248.ACH2), "Barawan, Sarawak" (P.41564), (7) and "Bakang (Dusun) Dyaks" (P.86681.ACH2). In some places, we can also detect a creeping interest in correlating racial and physical traits: the man shown in P.5086.ACH1, for example, has been labeled a "Kayan: only man seen with curly hair."
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Not all their subjects, however, behaved as stiff, wooden specimens. As happened in the Torres Strait, photography both reflected and facilitated social relations, and the Expedition members appear to have established a genuine, often friendly, rapport with their subjects. In keeping with earlier practice, Haddon and his colleagues made an effort to record names, relations and places: a testament not only to their documentation methods, but also, I suspect, a real fondness for the people they met. P.50246.ACH2, for example, is Seligman's photograph of Datu, a Balau Iban man, who smiles quite unguardedly in a grassy clearing. Many photographic subjects also feature in Haddon's travel narratives: P.50193.ACH2, for example, gives us a glimpse of Aban Abit, head of the Long Tisam longhouse (Haddon 1901:335-338)whom William Henry Furness, one of Hose's earlier guests, also met (Furness 1902: 55). When Hose, Haddon, McDougall, and Ray visited him, they were able to witness a pig liver divination ceremony and even purchase skulls (Haddon 1901: 336-338; P.45416.ACH2). Later, they visited Tama Bulan's longhouse on the Pata River, where they, like Furness and his colleagues (Furness 1896:320), were much taken with his daughter Bulan (P.5064.ACH1) and her friends Mujang and Sara, all of whom Haddon described as "the friendliest and jolliest damsels I have met in all my travels" (1901:375-376).
The Expedition members also documented a variety of rituals and activities, many of which no longer exist in contemporary Borneo. While visiting Tama Bulan with Hose in November 1898 (Hose 1900: 40), for example, Myers and McDougall photographed several scenes from a ritual dedicated to the"Supreme God" Bali Penyalong (P.5148.ACH1; see Hose and McDougall 1993, vol. 2:52-54). Meanwhile, Haddon has left us with extensive written and photographic evidence of a visit to the house of Jangan, a Sebop chief at Long Puah, a few months later. During this trip, Hose and the Expedition members witnesse--and in some ways precipitated (Haddon 1901:352)--a ceremony involving the transferral of skulls from a hut where they were being held temporarily to the semi-complete new longhouse in which the visitors were to stay. The ceremony began with a group of young men dressed in war gear singing and chanting to the skulls as they were removed from their makeshift abode (P.50223.ACH2), and ended with them being hoisted up to the rafters of the new house in a basket (P.50167.ACH2). To mark their visit, Jangan held a naming ceremony for his first child (P.41557), for whom Haddon was asked to become godfather (Haddon 1901: 353). After pigs and chickens were sacrificed and several speeches made, recalls Haddon, the boy was named "Utang [Untung?] Haddon" (Good luck Haddon), and borak (rice spirits) was passed all round. Among the visitors' photographs of this ceremony is a pictorial reminder of the tensions that could surface in such ethnically diverse settings. R5083.ACH1 (Fig. 5) records a moment in the post-ritual party which Haddon recounts thus: "Great hilarity was caused in succeeding, or failing, as the case might be, in making a few Mohammedans [possibly members of Haddon's party] who were present partake of a liquid that was prohibited to them by the Prophet" (Haddon 1901: 355).
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Even though Haddon and his colleagues appear not to have approached Borneo with the same salvage-oriented zeal that guided their activities in the Tortes Strait, the collection they assembled stands as a rich record of long-vanished lives and landscapes. Apart from the rituals and activities mentioned earlier, there are images of the towering, elaborately-carved coffins of Kayan and Kenyah aristocrats (e.g. P.5176.ACH1; Fig. 6), white European or Chinese crockery dotting their sides (see Hose and McDougall 1993, vol. 2: Plate 152), anthropomorphic canoe prows (R50170.ACH2), ceremonial poles on which had hung enemies' heads and bits of flesh (R5152.ACHl; Haddon 1901: 361362), an effigy of the Kenyah war and omen-bird, Bali Flaki [Pelaki] (P.50216.ACH2), a wooden figurine used in a Kedayan berantu healing ceremony (P.5144.ACHI) and intricate house paintings, such as those on Aban Abit's bedroom partition (P.41561). In contrast to the Tortes Strait, most of these entities were not then in imminent danger of being lost or discarded; yet a century later, they have all but disappeared.
Another mainstay of late-nineteenth century Sarawak which has since vanished is, of course, the Brooke Raj. Whether or not they meant to, the Expedition members ended up creating and preserving some intriguing records of Brooke--and more specifically, Hose--rule in Sarawak. This was arguably engineered by Hose himself, who undoubtedly hoped to impress upon Haddon his skill at governance. The latter certainly seems to have been convinced, later attributing the Expedition members' successful Bornean sojourn to Hose's "personal qualities...which awaken a feeling of affection and loyalty in the natives" (1899: 416). Apart from capturing features of life in the Raj's small administrative centers, such as Ricketts' Limbang residence (P.41544) and Hose's Marudi bungalow, its veranda bulging with stuffed animals and packing materials (P.41562), they also showed Hose, the Resident, in action as he conducted his duties. During their stay, these culminated in the great Marudi Peace Conference--an action-packed affair which unfolded over five days. The obstacle race mentioned earlier took place on the second day, shortly after an exhilarating two and a quarter-mile boat race (8) (P.50264.ACH2) which Tama Bulan's people won, narrowly outpacing a Malay boat (Haddon 1901: 402). During the subsequent speeches and toasts--and brief skirmishes between old rivals (Haddon 1901: 403-404)--Hose remained very much in the thick of the things, mediating and generally directing the proceedings. A group shot of him looming in full uniform over several men, including Tama Bulan (P.41539), reminds us of his sheer physical stature: something which he could use to great effect when he wanted.
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11 April saw a tuba fishing event in Logan Ansok (P.50197.ACH2), whereby men, some clad in animal-skinned warcoats and hornbill-feathered rattan caps, roamed the lake in canoes, catching the fish forced to the surface by the intoxicating substance (Haddon 1901: 406-409). Following another boat race the next day, the participants gathered for their final meeting on 13 April: a rousing and convivial affair by all accounts. One of its highlights was a "gigantic gaily painted model of a hornbill, on which a very large number of cigarettes were suspended" (Haddon 1901: 410) (P.50203.ACH2; see Hose and McDougall 1993, vol. 2: 88). For the occasion, three huge sacrificial pigs--one each for the Baram tribes, the Lirongs of the Tinjar, and the Madangs--were provided by the Resident "'for the purpose of swearing peace and friendship" (Haddon 1901 : 410). This accomplished, each pig was then "killed in the usual manner by sticking it in the neck with a spear" (Haddon 1901:411), and its liver examined for divination: a sequence duly captured in photographs by the Expedition members (P.5130.ACH1 : Fig. 7). Further speeches then ensued, with the various leaders affirming their peace with each other and the Government. At the end of this "great palaver" (Haddon 1901: 412), Hose collected taxes of two dollars per family from the leaders (P.41558.ACH2; McDougall 1900 in Hose and McDougall 1993, vol. 2: 289-300; Fig. 8). Thus ended a concerted display of what Haddon would later describe as the "paternal administration of native affairs that is the keynote of the Sarawak system of government" (1899:415).
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Aftermath and future
This article has provided the merest glimpse of Haddon's much larger and varied Bornean photographic collection. For most of its members, the Tortes Strait Expedition was a launch-pad to prominence in their respective fields. Haddon himself went on to become the first Lecturer (later, Reader) in Ethnology at Cambridge (1900), a position which enabled him to take a leading role in establishing anthropology as a full-fledged, fieldwork-based university discipline. Indeed, "it is not coincidental," Rouse notes, "that the rise of anthropological fieldwork occurred at the same time as anthropology began to take root as an academic discipline. That the two were linked owes much to the efforts of Haddon and the Expedition members" (1998: 76).
After their return to England, the Expedition members deposited most of their photographs and artifacts in Cambridge University's Museum of General and Local Archaeology and Ethnology (as MAA was then called). Their personal notes, journals, sketches, correspondence, and other documents were placed in the University Library. Over the next three decades, Haddon and his colleagues gradually transformed their data into six volumes of Reports of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, published between 1901 and 1935. In the meantime, they disseminated their findings via both popular and scientific talks, newspaper and journal articles, lantern slide-shows, and exhibitions (Herle and Rouse 1998: 3). One of these was Haddon's popular travel narrative, Head-Hunters: Black, White and Brown (1901), which he was contractually obliged to produce before publishing any scientific reports (Rouse 1998: 66). Because of the relative paucity of published material on the Expedition's Bornean work, (9) this book has proven an invaluable resource in piecing together the (all too human) circumstances in which the photographs and objects which now lie in the Cambridge Museum were obtained.
Thanks to its status as a "'founding moment" in the history of the discipline, the Torres Strait Expedition has been widely described and commemorated: in 1998, for example, MAA held a major exhibition to mark its centenary, while in 2001-2002 it sent about sixty objects from Haddon's collection to Australia as part of a traveling exhibition on the Expedition. These activities have generated close links between the Museum and contemporary Torres Strait communities: the 1998 exhibition, for example, was preceded by two years of consultation with political leaders and cultural experts from the Islands, while several groups of Islanders have since visited the Museum to study Haddon's collections and share their expertise and memories. This relationship between Museum and community is not unique, but it is certainly one of MAA's strongest and most successful examples. (10)
By comparison to his Tortes Strait material, Haddon's Borneo collection has received far less use and attention; as the more casual appendage to the main expedition, the Borneo trip was not a groundbreaking affair of the same ilk. For Sarawak, however, its significance is indisputable. The images which have now been deposited in the Baram Regional Museum are not merely copies of 110 year-old photographs, but slices of Sarawak's history. In returning them to the areas and communities in which they were first taken, I hope that they will serve not only as important historical and communal resources, but also as new--or renewed--bridges between Sarawak and Cambridge. Given Sarawak's long-obscured place in the now-fabled Torres Strait Expedition, this would certainly be a fitting tribute to all those--native and foreign--who were a part of Haddon's Bornean visit.
Babcock, Tim G. 1974 Indigenous Ethnicity in Sarawak. Sarawak Museum Journal XXII(43): 191-202.
Boulanger, Clare L. 2009 A Sleeping Tiger: Ethnicity, Class, and New Dayak Dreams in Urban Sarawak. Lanham, Boulder: University Press of America.
Durrans, Brian 1994 Introduction. In: Charles Hose, Fifty Years of Romance and Research in Borneo, pp. v-xxiv. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.
Edwards, Elizabeth 1998 Performing Science: Still Photography and the Torres Strait Expedition. In: Anita Herle and Sandra Rouse, eds, Cambridge and the Torres Strait, pp. 106-135. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Furness, William Henry III 1896 Glimpses of Borneo. Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 35(153): 309-320.
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Herle, Anita 2004 Objects, Agency and Museums: Continuing Dialogues between the Torres Strait and Cambridge. In: Laura Peers and Alison K. Brown, eds., Museums and source communities, pp. 194-207. Routledge: London.
Herle, Anita, and Sandra Rouse 1998 Introduction: Cambridge and the Torres Strait. in: Anita Herle and Sandra Rouse, eds., Cambridge and the Torres Strait, pp. 1-22. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Research Fellow in Social Anthropology
Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge
CB2 1TA, United Kingdom
(1) The title of the expedition reflected the fact that the bulk of its funding came from the University of Cambridge's Worts Fund; extra financial support was provided by the Queensland government, the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the Royal Society, the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Dublin Society, among others (Rouse 1998: 58).
(2) It is currently impossible to pinpoint the exact number of photographs in this collection. Because they were never comprehensively catalogued or provenanced. not all of them have appeared on database searches. In February 2010. for example, nearly two hundred more prints and glass-plate negatives from the trip were discovered: I am hoping to catalogue them in the near future.
(3) This does not mean that they had had no prior contact with Euro-Americans. In 1896 and 1897, Hose was visited by the American doctor William Henry Furness III and his party (Furness 1896, 1902: Hiller 1896; Wilder 1968), who spent long stretches of time visiting and staying with various longhouse communities, including Tama Bulan's. Emphasizing the undiscovered, remote nature of the upriver groups was probably a useful persuasive strategy for Hose, who "'was able to hold sway with little competition" in the area where he was stationed (Durrans 1994: x).
(4) In this paper, I largely retain Haddon's spelling of names and place-names in his travel narrative, Head-hunters. Black. White and Brown (1901). Where possible, I have included their contemporary incarnations in brackets.
(5) Named as Aban Avit by Furness (1902).
(6) This name has caused some confusion, having been listed in Haddon's records and publications as "Long Sulan.'" Participants at the Marudi conference in August 2009. however, suggested that this was probably Long Julan. all important stop along the Dapoi River.
(7) The woman in this picture has been identified on the reverse of another print (P.50184.ACH2), taken by Myers, as Tina, a Berawan woman.
(8) This race was devised as "a sort of local Henley" which would enable young men to expend their natural energy with "some other equally violent, but less disastrous, activity" (Hose 1926:148); the race has since become a biennial affair, the Baram Regatta.
(9) A notable exception being Haddon and Start's book on Iban fabrics, based on photographs and collections made in Sarawak (1936). Haddon, Myers, Seligman. and Rivers also published a few .journal articles based on their time in Borneo.
(10) For further information, see Herle 2004.
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|Publication:||Borneo Research Bulletin|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2009|
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