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Some Preliminary Thoughts on Early Anthropology in Borneo

  • Victor T. KingEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Asia in Transition book series (AT, volume 4)

Abstract

The chapter argues that the early post-war study of Borneo, primarily undertaken by anthropologists, and predominantly in what was then the British Crown Colony of Sarawak should not be viewed in narrow, parochial terms. Unfortunately, apart from Sarawak, there was little that was done in modern social science during the first two decades of the post-war era in other parts of Borneo. What was accomplished with regard to the understanding of local social organisation and economies in Sarawak established an agenda for the next generation of researchers. These studies gave Borneo an academic legacy, a profile beyond the island; some publications, findings and the research training of postgraduate students were clearly more significant than others, and this chapter traces that variegated legacy. But importantly those early social scientists then moved on to expand their empirical and theoretical field of vision and link Borneo with major issues which were being debated outside Borneo Studies. Indeed, most of them had already undertaken research and training in other parts of the world prior to their research in Borneo. In that sense this formative research on Borneo was something of a staging post for the further development of our thinking about social and economic transformation in a rapidly changing world. The studies of Edmund Leach, Derek Freeman, William Geddes, Stephen Morris, T’ien Ju-K’ang, Rodney Needham, Tom Harrisson and George Appell, among others, are considered in a preliminary way to set the scene for some of the later chapters.

Keywords

Anthropology Borneo studies Research methodology 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

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