This important study upsets the popular assumption that human relations in small-scale societies are based on shared experience. In a theoretically innovative account of the lives of the Korowai of West Papua, Indonesia, Rupert Stasch shows that in this society, people organize their connections to each another around otherness. Analyzing the Korowai people's famous 'tree house' dwellings, their patterns of living far apart, and their practices of kinship, marriage, and childbearing and rearing, Stasch argues that the Korowai actively make relations not out of what they have in common, but out of what divides them. "Society of Others", the first anthropological book about the Korowai, offers a picture of Korowai lives sharply at odds with stereotypes of 'tribal' societies.
Rupert Stasch is Associate Professor in the Department of Anthropology at University of California, San Diego.
List of Illustrations ix Acknowledgments xi Note on Language xv Introduction: Otherness as a Relation 1 1. A Dispersed Society: Place Ownership and the Crossing of Spatial Margins 25 2. Pairing and Avoidance: An Otherness-Focused Approach to Social Ties 73 3. Strange Kin: Maternal Uncles and the Spectrum of Relatives 105 4. Children and the Contingency of Attachment 140 5. Marriage as Disruption and Creation of Belonging 173 6. Dialectics of Contact and Separation in Mourning 208 Conclusion 255 Notes 277 References 291 Index 303