Rebirth of Reason

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Thursday, December 6 - 8:07amSanction this postReply

This relates to a young man in a remote, primitive village who indiscreetly flirted with a woman already betrothed to another young man absent from the village at the time.  His aunt learned of this, and she later lied to the tribal elders about her nephew hitting the lying aunt on the cheek so she could "get" him for threatening the sanctity of betrothal.  It was all a lie and everyone knew it, but he pled guilty anyway because the elders wanted "some" way to enforce the sanctity of betrothal.  As the authors make clear, the economics of remote, non-industrial societies make protection of betrothal and marriage literally a matter of life or death.  It was a very interesting read.


I still get this huge feeling of anti-collectivist nausea when I read this quote.  Ick!  Ick!  Blech!


(Edited by Luke Setzer on 12/06, 8:15am)

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Thursday, December 6 - 5:21pmSanction this postReply

This raises doubts. What was the society? What language did they speak? They have a fairly sophisticated notion of ownership, and they are montheistic. The speaker espouses the kind of collectivism that originated in nineteenth-century Europe.


At best this is a very free translation, refracted through the translator's own habits of thought. Earlier, more primitive people might have believed something like this tacitly, but they wouldn't have identified it as clearly as this. At worst it's a fabrication, like Hilary Clinton's "it takes a village to raise a child", which allegedly came from some African tribe but was in fact a modern, western coinage (not necessarily Clinton's).

Post 2

Friday, December 7 - 4:13amSanction this postReply

"The Dou Donggo, however, had remained outside the Bimanese kingdom while it was a Hindu kingdom, and became part of the Muslim Sultanate of Bima only much later and by treaty rather than by conquest. They were able to retain their relative independence in part because they had a reputation as fierce warriors and in part because their mountainous territory was relatively easy to defend (Dou Donggo means ‘Mountain People’). ... By the time of Peter’s first survey trip to Donggo (as the district is most sensibly called) most Dou Donggo had accepted either Islam or Christianity, although as the local Roman Catholic catechist put it, ‘The people are 70 per cent Muslim, 30 per cent Catholic, and 90 per cent kaffir [pagan].’ Studying religious beliefs became a major focus of Peter’s fieldwork as did studying the way the people went about resolving disputes."


Monaghan, John. Social and Cultural Anthropology: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (p. 6). OUP Oxford. Kindle Edition. 

Post 3

Sunday, December 9 - 12:48amSanction this postReply

I'm struck by the irony how they define ownership: I belong to something else - not something else belongs to me ;)

It's not just a cultural / societal thing either - I actually belong to the state and in part society by law: I'm not entitled to make decisions about my life per se and I'm forced to donate a (greater or lesser) part of my life to the country / society I live in. Thus I'm the property of this state / society / family who dispose of my life and and my actions as they see fit.

Do you happen to know a country, society, family, even a hermit, no matter how remote or far in the past, where an individual belonged only to itself and did not have to fear repercussions from others? Repercussions usually of the violent sort, as that seems to be the universal mode of enforcing ownership ;)

If I do not have that basic ownership over myself, then everything else is just a matter of degree of ownership by others ... or how much force I can muster to keep them off :P


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