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From A Shattered Sun
Hierarchy, Gender, and Alliance in the Tanimbar Islands
Susan McKinnon


"McKinnon's brilliant analysis confronts a central problem: how to understand a structure which is at once hierarchical and egalitarian. This book may change the face of anthropology."
—David M. Schneider

Among a growing number of ethnographies of eastern Indonesia that deal with cosmology, exchange, and kinship, From a Shattered Sun is the first to address squarely issues originally broached by Edmund Leach and Claude Lévi-Strauss concerning the relation between hierarchy and equality in asymmetric systems of marriage.

On the basis of extensive fieldwork in the Tamimbar islands, Susan McKinnon analyzes the simultaneous presence of both closed, asymmetric cycles and open, asymmetric pathways of alliance-of both egalitarian and hierarchical configurations. In addition, Tamimbarese society is marked by the existence of multiple, differentially valued forms of marriage, affiliation, and residence. Rather than seeing these various forms as analytically separable types, McKinnon demonstrates that it is only by viewing them as integrally related-in terms of culturally specific understandings of "houses," gender, and exchange-that one can perceive the processes through which hierarchy and equality are created.

Susan McKinnon is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Virginia.


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December 1991

LC: 91-50325 DS
352 pp. 6 x 9
28 halftones, 24 line illustrations,
2 maps

Book icon Paper $24.95 x
ISBN 978-0-299-13154-8
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