By Jill Forshee

Textiles have lengthy been fundamental to the social existence and cosmology of the folks of East Sumba, Indonesia. In contemporary many years, the Sumbanese have entered a bigger global financial system as their textiles have joined the commodity move of a world "ethnic arts" industry, prompted by means of Indonesia's vacationer alternate. As Sumba's villagers reply to an immensely extended trade of their fabric, tensions and ironies emerge among historic and leading edge varieties in either textile and lives. utilizing a story process, Jill Forshee takes readers into varied lives, together with these of villagers touring to Bali and travelers vacationing Sumba, and follows their adventures alongside a number of routes over the years. via own tales of these fascinated about the modern construction and exchange of neighborhood textile, a shiny account emerges of the interior workings of a so-called "traditional" society and its arts responding inventively to many years of foreign amassing. those tales extend anthropological options of the obstacles of areas and the certainties of cultures in ways in which are tangible and fast to the reader. additionally, the booklet illuminates a few previously unexplored stipulations of creative provenance.

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Extra info for Between the Folds: Stories of Cloth, Lives, and Travels from Sumba

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Eastern Sumba has been historically organized socially around a type of system that Levi-Strauss (1969) typifies as a “house society,” with clan homes and their ancestral spirits as central cosmological forces in people’s lives—irrefutably establishing their senses of place in the world, their travel routes and stays, and a shared sense of propriety. This concept of the “house” as a central social category was earlier taken up by van Wouden (1935) in a specifically eastern Indonesian context and further developed by Fox, ed.

Marrying out to other clans is a fundamental movement in women’s lives, dislocating them from their natal villages. Living among husbands’ kin, women then create their own families in new locations and carry on society based in clan alliances. As Hoskins has noted in West Sumba (1989:145), feelings of separation and detachment characterize expressions in women’s lives. Yet there are other avenues that women might choose in the region I examined, and some resist marriage. I knew of numerous situations in eastern Sumba where women willfully remained in their parental homes.

23 Because ideas of social superiority and entitlement are based on local notions of history and geography, people (especially elites) of the island seem able to reassert such distinctions in a politically influential sense only within their regional enclaves. Identity and Trade Until into the twentieth century, established marketplaces were not part of East Sumbanese social life. Exchange of goods (produce, cloth, tools, livestock) was carried out between kin groups—involving wife-givers (yera) and wife-takers (ana kawini)—or between castes in a system of obligations.

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