Sina Emde, Ebihara, May Mayko: Svay. A Khmer Village in Cambodia. (Ed. by Andrew Mertha.) Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018. 331 pp. ISBN 978-​1-​5017-​1512-​9. Price: $ 23.95 in:

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Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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satz des Begründers der Bonner Altamerikanistik, Her‐ mann Trimborn, nahe, der in der Nachkriegszeit die sich in der BRD neu herausbildende Altamerikanistik prägte (K. Noack: Museum und Universität. Institutionen der Ethnologie und Authentizität der Objekte. In: M. Kraus und K. Noack [Hrsg.], Quo vadis, Völkerkundemuse‐ um? Bielefeld 2015: 46 f.). Deren gegenwärtige Institutionalisierung bleibt im Band leider eher verschwommen (Schüren: 104), eben‐ so wie das enge verwandtschaftliche Verhältnis, in dem das eigenständige “Kleine Fach” der Altamerikanistik und die Ethnologie Mesoamerikas zueinander stehen: Eine klare, übersichtliche Darstellung, in der sich die Ethnologie Mesoamerikas als Teil der Altamerikanis‐ tik “outet”, fehlt. Verwiesen sei hier auf : Als Zentrum für Altamerikanistik, das die Ethnologie Mesoamerikas einbindet, ist die Abteilung für Altamerikanistik des Instituts für Archäologie und Kulturanthropologie der Universität Bonn genannt, die das Fach sowohl mit einem Spezialisten für Mesoameri‐ ka (Nikolai Grube) als auch einer Spezialistin für Süd‐ amerika (Karoline Noack) einzigartig in Deutschland in Forschung und Lehre (BA- und MA-Studiengänge) ver‐ tritt. Warum solch grundsätzlich wichtige, besonders aber für Studierende relevante Informationen fehlen, bleibt rätselhaft. Ingrid Kreide-Damani ( Ebihara, May Mayko: Svay. A Khmer Village in Cambodia. (Ed. by Andrew Mertha.) Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2018. 331 pp. ISBN 978-1-5017- 1512-9. Price: $ 23.95 This rich ethnography is a voice from the past. It is the posthumously edited dissertation of May Mayko Ebihara and is based on fieldwork in Svay, a village 60 km outside of the capital Phnom Penh, in 1960. For contemporary scholars of Cambodia, and anyone inter‐ ested in the country and her people, it is a treasure. Framed by a wonderful introduction by Ebihara’s former student Judy Ledgerwood and an article May M. Ebihara wrote after her return to Cambodia in 1991, this book is a captive and highly informative read. The more, as the author is in constant dialogue with the find‐ ings of her French contemporaries such as Jean Delvert, François Martini, and Éveline Porée-Maspero who, as she summarizes in Appendix A, provided the most im‐ portant academic studies at that time, albeit none of them was an anthropologist by training. In nine chapters the book takes the reader on a detailed ethnographic journey into life in Cambodia, covering classic themes such as economic organization, religion, lifecycles, and political organisation. To my knowledge it is the only anthropological work of this kind from this period; after independence and before the years of the civil war and the devasting rule of the Khmer Rouge’s Democratic Kampuchea (DK). While the ethnography follows a classic outline, it is refreshing that Appendix B gives us a self-reflective insight about Ebihara’s position in the field and her methodology. The first and second chapter are an overview of Cam‐ bodian history and an introduction to “Cambodia as a Whole” which already lays out the topics of the ethnog‐ raphy: population and demography (census 1958), set‐ tlement patterns, social stratification and economy, reli‐ gion and language. The third chapter introduces us to the setting of the village Svay, especially its West Ham‐ let where the author conducted her fieldwork. Detailed descriptions and drawings introduce us to the 30 houses with 160 inhabitants of the West Hamlet, their bilateral kinship relations and social organisations, and their res‐ idence patterns. Ebihara singles out the nuclear family as the main family unit who is able to call upon wider kin relations in times of need. But kin “has no formal organization; it does not crystallize as a group except in periodic ‘assemblages ad hoc’ of only part of its total possible membership” (77). There is also no strong community organisation besides occasional public works, religious ceremonies, and work exchanges in the planting and harvest season. This is especially interest‐ ing, as many scholars who worked after the Democratic Kampuchea asked specifically about the damage the Khmer Rouge had done to the social fabric of villages and households. But it seems that social units have al‐ ways been rather small even before the Khmer Rouge. In the next ethnographically rich chapter of Svay’s eco‐ nomic organisation, the author vividly depicts the pre‐ valent and highly relevant meaning of rice. Most house‐ holds have only small landholdings and grow rainy sea‐ son rice with a single annual crop for subsistence rather than for the market. Ebihara takes us through the annual cycle of rice and all that is associated with it. Cash in‐ come comes mostly from raising pigs and chickens, but also from temporary employment, mostly in Phnom Penh. Nevertheless, people find it difficult to make ends meet and money lending is a common practice. This vulnerability of peasant’s everyday existence is still an issue until today. Chapter five provides a rich insight in‐ to the entanglement of religious practices, ceremonies, and teachings of Theravada Buddhism, and what the au‐ thor calls Folk religion centering “around belief in a variety of supernatural beings and essentially magical rituals and other practices” (175). The author shows the pivotal meaning of Buddhism for village life and for the education and coming of age of young men. But it is in‐ teresting that in 1960 the author witnessed a decline in men joining the wat (temple), as secular options of edu‐ cation and employment came into the reach of village life, albeit more for men than women. The chapter in‐ cludes a fascinatingly detailed description of different kinds of spirits and their presence among and meaning for the living. Chapter six guides us through the different stages in an individual’s life, from pregnancy to old age and fu‐ nerals. Each stage is accompanied by specific ceremon‐ ies and rites of passage and the author does not only de‐ pict these in detail, but also manages to tease out the Book Reviews 213 Anthropos 115.2020 gendered differences of these various life stages. Chapter seven discusses local political organisation as well as the official administrative units implemented first by the colonial power and then taken over by the independent state; province (khayt), subdistrict (khum), and village (phum). Most interesting are the government programs as agents of social and economic change in that period. But my attention was caught by a small sec‐ tion in this chapter on the Issarak, a militantly national‐ ist and very violent independence movement with a communist fraction that later on was often seen as a pre‐ decessor to the Khmer Rouge. Throughout the ethno‐ graphy, Svay is portrayed as a very peaceful and harmo‐ nious village, and its inhabitants as rather inward look‐ ing and not very interested in the politics of the wider world. The only time, argues the author, where national political factionalism occurred was when people joined the Issarak movement during World War II and prior to independence. After independence “West Svay returned to its normal placidity and passivity concerning political affairs” (221). I could not help but wonder if, under the peace and harmony, conflicts did exist that could be de‐ ployed for political mobilisation, just as it had happened not much later with the Khmer Rouge. The last chapter looks at the relations of the village with the wider world. Due to the improved infrastruc‐ ture the village became connected to the capital Phnom Penh, but the most frequent contacts happen with nearby villages. For young people with access to educa‐ tion the city becomes a reference point for future dreams of a life outside the village, whereas for older people it is a place that invites misbehaviour and mis‐ conduct. In general, the outer world is viewed with sus‐ picion. What is striking from a present viewpoint is the distrust of strangers that Ebihara describes as well as the animosity towards certain ethnic groups, especially the Vietnamese. Both have been successfully deployed in political propaganda during the civil war and the Khmer Rouge to rally support for the communist revolution. Reading Ebihara through the political lens of today, the reader sometimes gets an uncanny feeling that there already might have been more conflicts than the anthro‐ pologist acknowledged. If there is any theory in this rich ethnographic work, it is in the conclusion. Here, the author compares her findings to other ethnographies of mainland Southeast Asia and, in the theoretical spirit of that time, tries to re‐ late her insights to debates about the concept of the peasantry. Given the political meaning of the concept of the peasant in Communist movements throughout main‐ land Southeast Asia in the late 1960 s and 70 s, I would have wished she would have come back to this concept in the essay that ends the book. Here Ebihara reflects her return to Svay in 1989, during which she did a de‐ tailed research on what had happened to the people of the village, relying on her census data of 1960. She got a devastating insight of loss as half of the village had died. Ebihara shows how the memories of past violence are inscribed in the landscape of Svay and the bodies of its inhabitants. But she also shows the resilience of people as they returned to Svay and rebuilt their worlds – as peasants. Sina Emde ( Eriksen, Annelin, Ruy Llera Blanes, and Michelle MacCarthy: Going to Pentecost. An Experimental Ap‐ proach to Studies in Pentecostalism. New York: Berghahn Books, 2019. 227 pp. ISBN 978-1-78920- 139-0. (Ethnography, Theory, Experiment, 7) Price: $ 120.00 “Going to Pentecost” is co-authored by three anthro‐ pologists with ethnographic research on Pentecostalism conducted in Vanuatu, Angola, and Papua New Guinea. The book is organized around four sections. The first in‐ cludes a methodological and theoretical exploration on an experimental approach for examining Pentecostalism that is simultaneously about place and space, local and global, territorial and non-territorial, rooted in the ev‐ eryday of the local but somehow transcendent as a cul‐ tural understanding of the world. The second section of‐ fers three ethnographic descriptions from each of the authors’ work about healing, prosperity, and the social ordering of urban settings. Part three follows with a more analytical and theoretical reflection on questions about borders and boundaries, neoliberalism and pros‐ perity, and individualism, absolutism, and pluralism. The final section is a series of reviews by prominent scholars including Matei Candea, Joel Robbins, Bjørn Enge Bertelsen, Knut Rio, and Birgit Meyer (the re‐ viewer did not read this section until after writing the review). The overall construction of the book is excel‐ lent, considering it is a multi-authored, multi-sited, ethnographic study of Pentecostalism that attempts to capture the non-territorial qualities of Pentecost. It is rich in description, theory, methodology, and analysis. It can be read in a variety of ways including a traditional linear fashion, or across each section with attention giv‐ en to one of the places and topics, or within one of the sections, such as part two and its detailed descriptions or part three with the extended analytical discussion. Having read the book in a more traditional manner, my review will continue with observations and discussions on three chapters from different sections for the ques‐ tions they raise. First, I offer some comment about the theoretical and methodological claims set out in the introductory sec‐ tion. The entire book rests on the assumptions of the au‐ thors and the claim to offer an experimental approach for researching religion generally, and Pentecostalism particularly. The argument revolves around a series of questions about the relationship between local/global and territorial/non-territorial approaches to globalization and religion. More specifically, they ask, how can we rethink the local by looking at the non-territorial aspects of Pentecostalism? The objectives, according to the au‐ thors, are to challenge territorial methodology, to exam‐ ine religion in a more wholistic way, and through com‐ 214 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.