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GIBSON, Thomas and Kenneth SILLANDER, eds.- Anarchic Solidarity: Autonomy, Equality and Fellowship in Southeast Asia
Article published on 20 January 2015

by r-c.
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Yale Southeast Asia Studies Monograph #60. 310p. Paper : ISBN 978-0-938692-94-2 ;
Cloth ISBN 978-0-938692-95-9

This volume analyzes a group of Southeast Asian societies that have in common a mode of sociality that maximizes personal autonomy, political egalitarianism, and inclusive forms of social solidarity. Their members make their livings as nomadic hunter-gatherers, shifting cultivators, sea nomads, and peasants embedded in market economies. While political anarchy and radical equality appear in many societies as utopian ideals, these societies provide examples of actually existing, viable forms of "anarchy." This book documents the mechanisms that enable these societies to maintain their life-ways and suggests some moral and political lessons that those who appreciate them might apply to their own societies.

Thomas Gibson is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Rochester. He began fieldwork among the Buid of Mindoro, Philippines, in 1979, and among the Makassar of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, in 1988.

Kenneth Sillander is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki. He has done fieldwork among the Bentian of Indonesian Borneo since 1993.

Table of Contents

- Introduction. Thomas Gibson and Kenneth Sillander

1. A theoretical overview of anarchic solidarity
Charles Macdonald

2. Sources of sociality in a cosmological frame: Chewong, Peninsular Malaysia
Signe Howell

3. Cooperative autonomy: social solidarity among the Batek of Malaysia
Kirk Endicott

4. Childhood, familiarity and social life among East Semai
Robert Dentan

5. Kinship and fellowship among the Palawan
Charles Macdonald

6. Kinship and the dialectics of autonomy and solidarity among the Bentian of Borneo
Kenneth Sillander

7. Egalitarianism and ranking in the Malay world
Geoffrey Benjamin

8. Encapsulation and solidarity in northeast Borneo: Punan of the Malinau area
Lars Kaskija

9. Mending nets of relatedness: words and gifts as sources of solidarity in a Sama Dilaut fishing community
Clifford Sather

10. Nicknames at work and at play: sociality and social cohesion among the Cuyonon of the Philippines
James Eder

11. Egalitarian islands in a predatory sea
Thomas Gibson

This collection marks an epochal leap in anthropological studies of egalitarianism. Rather than engage in the usual quixotic and rather pointless debate over whether it is possible to find a truly "egalitarian society," the authors start from the much more sensible assumption that we must begin by considering egalitarianism as a form of moral commitment, and conclude that those places where that moral commitment is strongest are precisely those places where "society," as we usually conceive it, can least be said to exist. This volume should become a model for future research.
- David Graeber, Reader in Anthropology, University of London

How do anarchic, egalitarian societies maintain their shape and values in a world of hierarchy? Here in Anarchic Solidarity, Gibson and Sillander have brought together the most experienced and sophisticated scholars to brilliantly illuminate the social, economic, geographic and ritual foundations and practices that underwrite individual autonomy and coordination without hierarchy. Unsurpassed and bound to be influential far beyond regional studies.
- James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University


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