The Paradox of Power in a People's Republic of China Middle School. Martin Schoenhals

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  • B O O K R E V I E W S 607

    and history (as a specific technique and interpretation of how past and present are represented) @p. xiv-xv). Although these definitions may have heuristic value, with- out qualfication they result in an odd distinction made between the past and time (duration) as if they were two quite separate matters. Some chapters titles allot chapters to the past and others to time, but these differences are not clearly maintained in their actual content. The promised articulation of the past and duration is never made explicit, nor is the relation (if any) Hoskins intends between the past in its more general sense, perspectives on the past, and duration.

    Yet cultural formulations of time, such as the calen- dric cycles constituted in the seasonal rites, obviously shape the experiencing of particular relations between past, present, and future. In doing so they intrinsically entail certain perspectives on past events. When Hoskins discusses the calendar ritual as part of the Kodi construal of the past in part 3, from the standpoint of heritage rather than history, this may be what she is driving at. Despite this, the concept of time remains obscure.

    A related problem is that the detachment of the ana- lytic conceptualnation of time from space is belied by cultural material. Much of the book is directly concerned with Kodi political efforts to establish long-term temporal continuities by stabilizing mobile, dispersed, or frag- mented things and spirit components of the dead in par- ticular places or returning them to a localized source. The Kodi elaboration of this familiar Indonesian theme makes it clear that durability and placement cannot be disentan- gled: KO& long-term time is generated in the form of localizing (spatializing) processes. Hoskinss theorization of time thus fails to take account of the implications of her own carefully set out ethnography.

    Her otherwise suggestive examination of time as value gves rise to additional questions. Hoskins argues that for Kodi, biographical and generational time is the key value developed in the sacrificial exchange economy measured in the pigs and buffaloes tusk and horn lengths. The worth of animals in the sacrificial economy is reck- oned in relation to their age, the time spent raising them, and the biographical investment made by their owner. The horns represent a part o f . . . [the owners] own life, given an enduring material form and. . . [kept] for genera- tions @. 203). Hoshns opposes KO& temporal value to value in commodity exchange where time is money @. 219); money encodes short units of work time, not the more inclusive life time.

    However, the argument relating time, value, work, and nioney is unclear. For instance, although the notion of value is hinged to a contrast between work (associated with money) and life time, we learn little about Kodi work. What is the KO& view of work and its part in the other life activities that make up life time? What are the particular practices underneath the abstract glosses biographical

    investment and investment of time? If the buffalo raised for sacrifice is esteemed because of the years of his own life the owner has invested in raising it (p. 212), does this have nothng to do with work? What is the relation be- tween raising an animal and Kodi notions of work?

    Difficulties like these damage the studys theoretical contribution but should not detract from the fact that Hoskins has written a suggestive ethnography with much that is thought-provoking to both Indonesianists and other anthropologists interested in time, exchange, and ap- proaches to historical change.

    The Paradox of Power in a Peoples Republic of Chin.a Middle School. Martin Schoenhals. h o n k , N Y M. E. Sharpe, 1993.215 pp.

    GERARD ROSENFELI) State Univwsitg of New York at Buffalo

    There is considerable value in this unpretentious book; unpretentious not for its lack of insight but for its orderliness and straightforward prose. The author, while in his late 20s, spent 13 months teaching at a middle school in a large northeast city in the Peoples Republic of Chma. He spent much time at a maor university in the city and had opportunity to visit other schools as well. Thus he observed formal and informal cultural transmission pro- cedures in multiple settings. Engaged in formal research, in addition to meeting his responsibilities as a teacher, he acquits himself admirably through the use of several eth- nographic approaches: observation, participation, inter- view, content analysis of historical documents, reference to the topical literature, diaries and other life history material, informal responses, and descriptive instances in cultural context. Overall, it is a well-balanced inquiry. It reminds me of others work in different cultural and ethnic settings (including my own work as a younger man with children in Harlem), where one attempts to fathom the rules by which behavior and thought proceed; to make sense out of seemingly contradictory impressions and representations. Schoenhals succeeds because he works at it. He strives to derive the organizational principles explaining behavior, so that he might, ultimately, articu- late the theoretical formulations reveahng the lives of Chinese students-and aspects of the larger culture.

    If a feature of good ethnography is to give us a key to the intellectual, often unspoken, lives of the observed- namely, what it means to be young and Chmese-we are not bappointed. Yet, this is not a guidebook. It will not tell you how to grip chopsticks or how to merge your bicycle with the human tide of bicyclists traversing Tnnanmen Square. It will tell you, on the other hand, why your Chinese do rman t taught you how to play Chinese chess, but never let you win; or why the polite clerk in the

  • 6 0 8 A M E R I C A N A N T H R O P O L O G I S T V O L . 9 7 , N o . 3 S E P T E M B E R 1 9 9 5

    friendship store didnt rush to your assistance when you were anxious to make a purchase.

    What do we learn from this book? In our own ver- nacular, what you see is not always what you get. Beneath the gentle and polite exteriors of the Chmese there is a propensity for constant evaluation and criticism of others behavior. Persons are ranked and scrutinized, at all levels. Merit is that whch one strives for through moral and responsible behavior rather than through status and ma- terial pursuits. (The extent to which this holds up in the face of modernization and democratization remains an open question.) Indeed, the paradox of power of which Schoenhals speaks emanates from the fact that the more meritorious a person becomes the more one is likely to be held to higher standards of conduct, and the more one has to lose by any transgression. The bigger they are the harder they fall. All this is tied to face: the humiliation that results from incompetence, immorality, or extreme bad judgment. This is why the Chinese do not give in to outside force, why parents and children must respect one another (at least in public), why the group comes before the individual, and why the student democracy movement was strongly put down in the now infamous battle be- tween students and the army in Tiananmen Square. If the Chmese resist outside force, they will certainly resist inside force, lest they lose face by failing to do so. It will take more than wearing jeans and drinlung Coca-Cola for the Chinese to abandon the centuries-old tradition of respect for the elderly by the young.

    In America we inspire in our youth a sense of ind- vidualism and independence. Succeed in school, get a job, and move out. In later life, independence and indvidual- ism often translate into isolation and loneliness, espe- cially as families disperse and ties weaken over time and space. The Chineses own competitiveness to succeed and the abiding concern with face and public performance (coupled with the mandatory one-child family) may well leave the individual reliant mostly on oneself, a guarded member of The Lonely Crowd. One looks to Chmese scholars themselves and promising researchers like Schoenhals to enlighten the rest of us on these issues in the near future.

    Halmahera and Beyond: Social Science Research in the Moluccas. Leontine Visser, ed. Leiden: KITLV Press, 1994. 249 pp.

    CHRISTOIIIER R. DIWAN Yale University

    This book draws together papers written for the Rfth International Workshop on Indonesian Studies held in Leiden in 1990, which focused on social science research in the province of Maluku (the Moluccas) in eastern Indo- nesia The volume contains twelve papers, ten in English

    and one each in Dutch and Indonesian, as well as an introduction and a bibliography of recent works on the Moluccas.

    The first three articles survey the history and lasting influence of the regions former sultanates. A. B. Lapian discusses the history of the Bacan Sultanate arguing that in fact Bacan, not Ternate, was the earliest power in the region. Ch. F. van Fraassen then examines the extent of the Ternate Sultanates control over its dependencies, concluding that Temates power and position rested not only on military ndght but on nunierous other factors, especially its role as a source of trade goods and coveted knowledge. The importance of external knowledge is also emphasized in James Bakers analysis of state-derived descent categories from the Tidore Sultanate still used by villagers on mdore today; he notes that continued use of these descent categories, which some villagers claim have an external origin, is connected to their value in maintain- ing the ritual values of ancestral traditions. Barbara Grimes then offers a discussion of how the people of Bun1 have also incorporated external political systems and titles, some dating from precolonial times, into their own social and political structures.

    The next three essays focus on kinship and social organization. Simonne Pauwels examines kinshp in Tanimbar, analyzing sibling relationships and how they reflect on the category of the house. Cecile Barrauds contribution, the only comparative paper in the collec- tion, contrasts the kinshp vocabularies of the Galela of northern Halmahera with that of the Kei Islands. Haryo Martodirho follows with an intriguing discussion oflugu- ti1 social organization exploring Tugutil identities, ranging from the people of one household (o tau moi) to those of one jungle (0 hongana moi).

    D. J. Nijland, producer of a film on the Tobelo of Halmahera, discusses the importance to the study of non- verbal communication of making ethnographic films and showing the finished film to participants for their reac- tions. Dirk Teljeur examines the influence of Islam on the life-cycle rituals of the Girn6.n of Halmahera Valerio Valeris contribution focuses on the different genres of knowledge among the Huaulu of Seram, paying particular attention to the role of multilinguahsm. E. K M. Masinam- bow offers a retrospective critique of the larger Halma- hera Research Project, which resulted in this and previous conferences. The concluding paper, by Leontine Visser, addresses issues of social science research policy in the Moluccas and its role in development. Rnally, Vissers bibliography of recent works on the Moluccas updates earlier standard bibliographies.

    The two goals of the Halmahera Research Project were to acquire basic knowledge of an area on which little had been written since the end of the Second World War, and secondly to see how regional development might benefit from such knowledge (p. 218). T ~ E book and the

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