An Anthropological Investigation of Suicide in the Southern Philippines
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: University of Hawai'i Press
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I would not have been able to conduct this investigation or accomplish the many field trips during which I gathered the data on which this book is based without the support of the National Center for Scientific Research, France (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifi que [CNRS]), where I am a Senior Research Fellow (Directeur de Recherche). The French Ministry of Foreign Aﬀairs and ...
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My acquaintance with the Palawan people of Palawan Island in the Philippines dates from 1970. I conducted fieldwork from 1970 to 1972 in the central highlands near Brooke’s Point, in the Mekagwaq and Tamlang River basins . I gathered there most of the data I used for my PhD dissertation and further publications...
Part One Palawan Culture and Society
1. The Kulbi-Kenipaqan River Basin and Its People
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The narrow and elongated island of Palawan is home to several autochthonous groups, namely the Tagbanuwa, the Bataks, and the Palawan people (spelled variously as Pala’wan, Pala-wan, Pelawan, etc.).1 In the southern part of the island, stretching over 150 kilometers, live 40 to 50,000 Palawan people.2 They share their homeland with a number of other groups as well, both Muslim and ...
2. Material Culture and the Symbolic Structure of Everyday Life
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This chapter briefly describes the material and economic basis of the Kulbi- Kenipaqan society. Many of the objects and techniques observed in this area are similar or even identical to those found in other areas, and various accounts have already been published (among others Macdonald 1977b, 1987a, 1988a, 1994b; Revel 1990), including a detailed catalogue...
3. Social Organization
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In chapter 1, I discussed one major dimension of the Palawan social order—the creation of stable local groups. This aggregation of individuals forming a local group results from a strategy largely based on bonds of kinship . Uxorilocality, as we have seen, is a basic rule accounting for the special kind of spatial alignment observed in one form or another in all hamlets and local settlement s among the ...
4. The Spiritual World of the Kulbi People
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In this chapter I shall discuss matters that are usually considered part of what is called “religion. ” In the Palawan language the word for “religion,” egama, is of Sanskrit origin and should probably be considered a foreign notion applying to world religions, like Islam and Christianity , and ill adapted to belief system s of the kind discussed here. When asked about their beliefs and ritual practices, ...
5. Personhood, Emotions, and Moral Values
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Since the major concern of this book is suicide, there is a need to look at one section of Palawan ethnography that we have only touched on in the preceding chapters and that has not been fully considered yet: the realm of ideas concerning the structure of the person, the emotional and moral life as conceptualized locally. By discussing this we will then be in a better position to see how suicide ...
Part Two Suicide
6. Sumling’s Death
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Sumling, a young woman in her late twenties and married to Durmin, hanged herself on August 9, 1989, in Tegpen, shortly before my arrival in Kulbi that year . Durmin, whom I knew well, described to me the circumstances of her death . At about noon that day, Sumling went to the river to wash clothes, or so she announced. She did not say anything about committing suicide, nor did ...
7. Suicide: Case Studies
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The cases described in this chapter have been documented after the fact based on information from respondents who knew the victims well or had firsthand knowledge of the circumstances or a recollection of events as reported to them. I collected these data from interviews conducted during fieldwork from 1989 onwards. My main informant and collaborator, Taya Ransawi, provided himself ...
8. Profiles in Suicide
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Looking at such an exceptionally high number of suicides, one is tempted to draw conclusions and define a pattern that would hold for the whole population. Is there one typical profile of the suicide victim? Is there one variable or dimension that overrides all others? One would like to come up with a quick answer to the question of why people commit suicide so often. But inevitably ...
9. The Anthropological Study of Suicide
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In this chapter I shall review a number of anthropological approaches to suicide concerning premodern, non-industrial, or tribal societies. I do not include works dealing with urban and industrial societies, such as Japan, although obviously anthropological approaches can and have been conducted on them (see Iga 1986). However, studies on industrial and urban societies are mostly sociological ...
10. Explaining Suicide: Concluding Remarks
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The dozen or so approaches to suicide and the explanatory models that have so far been summarized and commented on here may not represent all actual anthropological studies of suicide, but they form a significant cross-section, and some valid inferences can be made as to the kinds of assumptions, methodology , At the outset of this survey one is aware that anthropologists can choose two ...
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Publication Year: 2007