|Seminar and Symposium at KURCPI
What's Coming Up?
- Research Seminar No.176, 13 March 2017
16:30-, The Interdivisional Education and Research Building , 5th Floor
「What Makes Me Study Headhunting?」
YAMADA Hitoshi (Graduate School of Arts and Letters, Tohoku University)
After a brief overview of my book, Religious Ethnology of Headhunting (Chikuma Shobô, 2015), I will discuss the development of headhunting studies
after its publication, and then talk about my own motivation for, and the
significance of, this sort of studies. As might be astonishing, the custom
of headhunting was extremely rare among hunter-gatherers, while quite common
among horticulturalists in both Continental and Insular Southeast Asia.
The basic idea was to secure by this act the fertility of crops and women,
success of hunting, and warding off of diseases. In Japanese history we
have apparently similar acts in times of wars, as is shown in K. Shimizu,
Japanese History of Cutting Off Ears and Noses, and K. Muroi, Mounts of Head, Body, and Thousand People (both Yôsensha, 2015). F. Larson's Severed (Japanese translation: Kawade Shobô Shinsha, 2015) mentions the so-called shrunken heads of the Jibaro or Shuar in South America, which share interesting features with headhunting in Southeast Asia. What drives me towards such studies? It’s because I believe things very remote from our own common sense can reveal the essence of human kind — it is almost incredible how much the notion on the value of human life has changed and varied both over the long history and among the wide range of cultures.
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