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The People of Alor

The People of Alor: A Social-Psychological Study of an East Indian Island

Copyright Date: 1944
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 706
  • Book Info
    The People of Alor
    Book Description:

    The People of Alor was first published in 1944. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions. A trained psychologist and anthropologist, Dr. Cora Du Bois spent a year and a half on Alor, a Netherlands East Indies island, collecting the material presented in this volume. On her arrival on Alor Du Bois, already equipped with a working knowledge of Dutch and Malay, quickly learned the language of the Alorese and, by administering simple medical aid, gained the confidence and interest of the villagers. An important feature of Du Bois’ work is the use of modern psychological techniques, among which are the Porteus Maze tests and the Rorschach test. During her stay on Alor, Dr. Du Bois obtained detailed autobiographies of eight Alorese men and women – filling what Dr. Abram Kardiner calls “the lamentable gap in the study of the relationship between personality and culture.” Aided by grants from both the American Council of Learned Societies and the Coolidge Foundation, the publication of Du Bois’ study represents a contribution not only to anthropology, but to psychology and, less directly but significantly, to economics and political science. Enlightened administrators of the post-war era will also find this study of value, offering as it does, background for the better psychological understanding of primitive people.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3772-4
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  3. Part 1. Introduction

    • Chapter 1 The Problem
      (pp. 1-13)

      STUDIES of primitive peoples have been put to almost as many uses as there are theories in the social and psychological sciences. Essentially the problems of anthropology are the same as those of the other sciences dealing with human beings. Anthropology differs from these only in its subject matter, which is primarily the cultures of nonliterate peoples. This subject matter is of paramount importance, however, since it presents a series of independent attempts by men to live gregariously.

      No culture values equally all human potentialities; rather every culture selects certain of them and rejects others in order to create its...

    • Chapter 2 The Setting
      (pp. 14-27)

      ALOR is a small and obscure island in the Netherlands East Indies. It lies directly north of central Timor at the end of that long string of land fragments called the Lesser Sundas. More specifically, it is 8 degrees south of the equator and between 124 degrees and 125 degrees longitude east of Greenwich. This places it about halfway between Java and New Guinea in an east-west line and about halfway between Australia and Celebes in a north-south line.

      Alor’s climate and vegetation reflect its proximity to the Australian land mass. There are prevailing southeast and northwest winds, with severe...

  4. Part 2. Psycho-Cultural Synthesis

    • Chapter 3 Infancy: From Birth to Walking
      (pp. 28-38)

      THE physiological theories of conception and fetal life in Atimelang will be discussed later in a section on sexual behavior and attitudes. Parental attitudes and behavior immediately before, during, and subsequent to birth will be described here only in so far as they impinge on the development of the infant. Within the infancy period Atimelangers recognize a series of stages: from birth to the first smile, from the first smile to sitting up alone or crawling, from crawling to walking. The actual age in months or years is of no concern. In fact, it is very difficult for the average...

    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. None)
    • Chapter 4 Early Childhood: From Walking to Wearing a Loincloth
      (pp. 39-54)

      THIS period covers the time from the first walking to about the age of five or six, when children are referred to as “young” (fila). It may well be the period of greatest stress for the Atimelang child.

      When a child begins to walk about with some show of steadiness, it is no longer carried so constantly in a shawl, although the break is obviously not sharp and complete. Padafan, for example, began toddling at about sixteen months, and from then on, most of his day was spent out of the shawl. However, when he was taken any distance, he...

    • Chapter 5 Late Childhood: From Loincloth to Thoughts of Marriage
      (pp. 55-79)

      WHEN an Alorese child is given his loincloth, he has taken the first step toward adult status. This marks the beginning of late childhood, a period that lasts from the age of five or six years until adolescence. Children between these ages are called moku. At the beginning of this stage the prolonged and violent temper tantrums begin to disappear, and with some exceptions they completely die out in the course of two or three years. I should suggest that the disappearance of these tantrums is explicable in terms of the data contained in the preceding chapter. Tantrums are not...

    • Chapter 6 Adolescence, Marriage, and Sex
      (pp. 80-115)

      THE problems of adolescence are very different for boys and girls. One of the most marked differences is the greater prolongation of the period for boys. Neither sex has any ritually or socially recognized crisis rites to dramatize the passage from childhood to adulthood. It is basically an individual and personal transition that must be made. There are no men’s clubs, no secret societies, no tribal initiation for boys. For girls there are absolutely no first menses ceremonies or even restrictions.

      The closest approach to a symbolic recognition of adulthood offered by the society is tattooing for girls, letting the...

    • Chapter 7 Adults and Institutions
      (pp. 116-151)

      THE foregoing chapters have searched for the possible genesis of the modal personality in Atimelang and simultaneously have tried to indicate how that personality is both the product of social forms and the active agent in them. In this section the attempt will be made to search further for the interrelated forms and forces of personality as they manifest themselves in institutions, values, and everyday modes of emotional expression and behavior among adults.

      In the formation of personality the devices furnished by the society for placing oneself in relation to other individuals are important. In other words, the status forms...

    • Chapter 8 Some Psychological Aspects of Religion
      (pp. 152-175)

      IN a study of the relationship between modal personality and culture, the field of religion is one of the most significant because it is often, although not inevitably, one of the areas in which fantasy may be given fullest play. It is also an area where the selection and rejection of diffused traits may manifest themselves with the greatest degree of independence from other determinants like environment, economic production, and technical effectiveness. Ideally a description of life in Atimelang should bring out religious aspects in connection with each of its personal or institutional concomitants, and religion should not be given...

    • Chapter 9 Some Personality Determinants in Alorese Culture
      (pp. 176-190)

      ALORESE culture is not polarized sharply in any one direction. There is no great subsistence difficulty to supply us with a focus. Therefore, instead of leading off from one particular feature of the culture, it is perhaps best to work from the life cycle of the individual and see what successive integrational systems we can identify.

      In evaluating the kind of care the mother is able to give the child we must bear in mind the economic duties of the mother during the time of the infant’s growth. The child is left at home while the mother goes out to...

  5. Part 3. Autobiographies

    • Procedure and Presentation
      (pp. 191-193)

      THIS part consists of eight autobiographies, each of which is followed by Dr. Kardiner’s analysis of it. The chart on the next page gives in condensed form certain information about the subjects. Preceding each autobiography is a genealogy. These lists do not pretend to be complete, but they do include the names of the kinsmen most frequently mentioned. They serve to give some idea of the size and nature of the kin group in which each subject grew up. A glance will reveal the difference between Fantan and Tilapada in wealth of close relatives. This is important among a people...

    • Chapter 10 Mangma the Genealogist
      (pp. 193-232)

      [What was the first thing he could remember?] When I was still very small and couldn’t yet talk clearly, I remember there was a hungry period. Mother and father went to the woods and took the roots of wild bananas and brought them home to eat. Mother was pounding them up in a mortar, and a little bit fell over the edge. I grabbed it up and ate it, saying, “This is my tuber [referring to an esteemed sort, grown locally].”

      When I was still small I was sitting on a mortar. It was the time that corn was ripening....

    • Chapter 11 Rilpada the Seer
      (pp. 233-291)

      When I was about eight years old, my mother and father quarreled. Then my father went to live with his second wife, Kolkalieta. My mother cried because just then her older sister [classificatory] died in Atimelang. She cried very hard. I asked, “Why is this? I am still small, and my father goes to stay with his other wife, and you are crying for a dead kin? What shall we roast for her death feast?” I took my bow and arrow and went to Lenmasang. Lonmale’s pig was in the pen and I shot it. His son Simon threw stones...

    • Chapter 12 Malelaka the Prophet
      (pp. 292-348)

      Malelaka’s claim to fame rested on his supernatural relationships to Good Beings. In 1929 he had predicted the imminent arrival of these Beings, whose presence in the village would put an end to death and illness. The people were very much excited by his prophecies and were willing to build special houses in which to lodge the supernatural guests. The government was suspicious of these activities and sent troops to demolish the houses and arrest Malelaka.

      At the time that Malelaka gave his autobiography he was once more cautiously predicting the arrival of Good Beings, but the people were far...

    • Chapter 13 Fantan the Interpreter
      (pp. 349-395)

      The beginning of this autobiography was collected in the usual manner. It was the first of the eight secured, and I suggested that Fantan tell me his life story so that he could understand the kind of information I hoped to get. The last pan is a combination of Fantan’s own casual accounts of his daily affairs and my observations on the difficulties he encountered. This latter part is written in the third person instead of the first and consists partly of casual jottings on Fantan’s behavior and attitudes made in connection with other topics.

      [I suggested that Fantan begin...

    • Chapter 14 Tilapada
      (pp. 396-437)

      Tonight I dreamed that my soul went to my mother and father. They asked, “Why are you here?” I said, “I have just come to see my mother and father.” They said I must go back. Father stayed, but mother brought me part of the way. Then we flew to the boundary of Talemang, where we fell into a treetop. We ran from there to Montoti. In a short time we were at Fanalugi. Then mother turned back and I came on alone.

      I dreamed again. I held some rice in my hand and my husband said, “That rice is...

    • Chapter 15 Lomani
      (pp. 438-470)

      My father died when I was small, so I don’t know him. Then mother took us to Padavi [a fieldsite]. We lived there and then came back to Hiengmang [another fieldsite]. Then we went to live in Old Atimelang. We made a lean-to [tolang, a very poor sort of house] at Kamangmelang. Mother herself made the house and put a little thatch on it, and we slept there. Mother raised a pig for my grandfather’s death feast. After we had given the feast, mother died. When we were a little bigger we hunted husbands. Then I went to my husband’s...

    • Chapter 16 Kolangkalieta
      (pp. 471-500)

      When I was about twelve or fourteen, my mother and father gave a large death feast [Ato] for my grandparents.

      I played with Tunmai, Fuimai, Koimani, and Maraluka [all girls]. Once Tunmai said her beans were more than mine in the bean game, so I fought with her.

      I also fought with Kolmakani over a bean game, because I won more than she. She started to fight with me and I got angry and said, “It looks as though you were brave.” We started to exchange blows. My mother came and said, “You must not fight,” and grabbed me so...

    • Chapter 17 Kolmani the Seeress
      (pp. 501-547)

      The informant talked freely and herself suggested that she give her autobiography. She spoke in briefer paragraphs than the others and stopped to see that her words were written down. After the first day these pauses are indicated with the wordStopin brackets.

      Father I never knew. He died when I could just crawl. After that mother died when I was only two. Grandmother took care of me. I stayed there a long time and then went to live with various mothers [classificatory]. One mother had a child, Maleta, for whom I cared; then she became pregnant and had...

    • Chapter 18 Conclusions to the Autobiographies
      (pp. 548-551)

      ONE might well ask, after perusal of the autobiographies of the four men, whether the concept of basic personality structure is validated by these studies. The concept is essentially a check oninstitutionsand not oncharacter. What we see in each of the four men is a highly individual character. Each has some features of the basic personality structure, but each is in turn molded by the specific factors in his individual fate.

      Institutions are of interest to us in the study of personality because they define specific goals of behavior. If we consider one institutionalized set of behavior...

  6. Part 4. Descriptive Norms and Ranges

    • Chapter 19 Results of the Porteus Maze Tests
      (pp. 552-555)

      DR. PORTEUS was kind enough to score and comment upon the fifty-five tests bearing his name that were used in Alor. The Porteus Maze Tests explore the problem-solving intelligence of subjects by means of labyrinth designs of increasing complexity. In addition, Dr. Porteus believes that certain personal characteristics can be determined from the manner in which a subject performs.

      Sample scores of two subjects from whom autobiographies were obtained are given to show the manner of grading and commenting on the tests. The roman numerals represent the standardized mental age for the test used.

      Malelaka(male, approximately 45 years old)...

    • Chapter 20 Word Associations
      (pp. 556-565)

      AFTER a year in Atimelang I compiled a list of one hundred words in Abui, selecting those words which seemed to me to be charged with emotional connotations in daily life or those which occurred frequently in dreams and autobiographies. These were interspersed with words which are often strongly colored in our own society, for example sexual and excretory terms. Lastly, words were interspersed which seemed in both societies to have a neutral emotional tone, for example landscape terms. This list, needless to say, was selected purely on the basis of impressions. The stimulus words are given on page 564....

    • Chapter 21 Children’s Drawings
      (pp. 566-587)

      IN our own culture children’s drawings have been used diagnostically in connection with case histories or as therapeutic self-expression. For many years anthropologists have been collecting drawings by children and adults from nonliterate peoples. With the exception of Margaret Mead’s work such collections have too often been aimless and sporadic by-products of field work. So far no techniques for the comparative evaluation of children’s drawings have been worked out, yet even a casual inspection of collections from different cultures suggests that they may throw much light on the culturally determined phases of personality structure among children. The material which follows...

    • Chapter 22 Rorschach’s Experiment and the Alorese
      (pp. 588-640)

      The following summary covers: (1) procedure, (2) quantitative results of the test findings, (3) interpretation of affectivity, (4) variability and the individual, (5) sex differences.

      The test was given by the ethnographer to thirty-seven Alorese, seventeen males and twenty females. The scoring of the records and their computations, their interpretations and the evaluation of the findings, were made subsequently by me in New York.

      I hesitated to undertake this task for more than one reason. Not only was I confronted for the first time with the tests of individuals other than Europeans and Americans, but I did not know the...

    • [Illustration]
      (pp. None)
  7. Index A Note on the Pronunciation of Personal and Place Names
    (pp. 641-654)