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Corrections to Diss Excerpt #9

As one does, I reviewed my fieldnotes and interviews. As it happens, I wrote some errors or inaccuracies into the re-telling of Baun Bango's settlement history. As one does, I had to revise, which doesn't necessarily mean the new paragraph is free of errors and more accurate. It's merely made more honest about the inaccuracies and omissions through accompanying notes. Some day, when I have the time, I'd love to write about my experiences of the fine line between accuracy and inaccuracy in qualitative research... When I have the time -- wishful thinking! Here's the revised paragraph and some notes that show the existence of many versions of one story, and suggest the complications of trying to put forward only one version (which in the end, may even be the wrong version! Ah, anthropology), which further suggests that one should always question seamless accounts of culture as a unified and unifying whole. But I digress. Below, the paragraph containing corrections.

Over time, many new settlements sprouted up along the Katingan River. Baun Bango was first settled by the family of Miring, a man from the Kapuas River. Miring spent his youth traveling from village to village, stopping in places where he could find work. He married and had children with Sarin, a woman from one of the upriver villages of Katingan. Even after his marriage he continued to travel in search of work. One day, he stopped in a village where he was invited to a feast. People were drinking, dancing, and singing for two days non-stop. By the second day, Miring was so drunk that he slept without getting up from where he was seated. During this time a child was beheaded in the swidden fields surrounding the village. The parents accused Miring of taking their child’s head to use in a tiwah (the secondary mortuary rite and by far one of the most important rituals of the Ngaju). They asked for his head to replace the life of their child. In fact, the beheading was done by a hantuen, a witch, and Miring was falsely accused most likely through the machinations of the guilty hantuen. Miring was given the option to pay a fine, singer, to the couple but he did not have enough money. He inscribed on a bamboo tube a message asking for help and sent it to Mahar, a wealthy relative in Tumbang Ronen.

Notes (which appear as footnotes in the diss):
1. The accounts contradicted each other over the actual village of Miring’s origins. Some contended that he came from Hadohop, a village close to the coast. Others were certain that Miring came from a distant, upriver village. However, they were all in agreement about his being an olo Kapuas, or person of the Kapuas river.
2. Although the false accusation levelled at Miring and suspicions of the dirty work of a hantuen were common elements in the accounts I heard, the details of the murder itself varied in each. Such variations are not unusual in oral histories.


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