FORUM FOR ANTHROPOLOGY AND CULTURE

ANTROPOLOGICHESKIJ FORUM
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Antropologicheskij forum, 2018, no. 38

 

“SWINE TURN”: A Review of JON HENRIK ZIEGLER REMMEPIGS AND PERSONS IN THE PHILIPPINES. HUMAN-ANIMAL ENTANGLEMENTS IN IFUGAO RITUAL. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2014, 161 pp.

Maria V. Stanyukovich
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera), Russian Academy of Sciences
3 Universitetskaya Emb., St Petersburg, Russia
mstan()kunstkamera.ru

Abstract: This much-anticipated book on Ifugao ethnography, regrettably, appears to be rather disappointing. It claims theoretical novelty while failing to substantiate it, and at the same time fails to acknowledge regional literature and to go deeper into the sources to verify claims and facts. In my view, it is indicative of an alarming broader trend to disregard existing scholarship in present-day anthropology. It appears as though the success of a publication hinges upon opposing oneself to the previous research tradition and presenting one’s research out of its context. Systematically tracing the role of pigs in all spheres of life in Batad (a touristic centre of the Ifugao province), following the longstanding research tradition of the Austronesian area, but in terms of human-animal relations studies, J. Remme claims that his approach is totally innovative, having “opened up a new avenue to understanding the Ifugao and their lives”. He reduces the previous tradition of Ifugao studies to being “rice-field-centered”, whereas in fact century-long Ifugao studies have until recently focused mostly on mythology, ritual and its traditional religious system, with abundant discourse and data on exchange and sacrifice of objects and animals. Traditional culture is a multi-channel system; the “pig code” is just one of many cultural codes. Laudable as it is, its study should not be proclaimed supreme or serve to understate the importance of other avenues of research. The conclusions are often based on factual mistakes. For example, Remme claims that dogs and water buffalos are never sacrificed (p. 9) in Ifugao, while we have multiple evidences of the latter (buffalo sacrifice being one of the markers of Southeast Asian cultures in general) and several solid evidences of the former in early and present-day Ifugao culture. The discussion of pigs and gender (pp. 100–106) based on terminology for male and female age groups of pigs completely falls apart in case the reader can etymologise the untranslated Ifugao terms given by the author. The claim that wild animals are never sacrificed is equally wrong. Remme exoticises the people that he studies and expands his conclusions based on Batad material to the whole province of the Ifugao, failing to contextualise his own fieldwork.

Keywords: Ifugao ethnography, human-animal relations, the Philippines.

To cite: Stanyukovich M., ‘“Swine Turn”: A Review of Jon Henrik Ziegler Remme, Pigs and Persons in the Philippines. Human-Animal Entanglements in Ifugao Ritual. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2014, 161 pp.’, Antropologicheskij forum, 2018, no. 38, pp. 229–251.

doi: 10.31250/1815-8870-2018-14-38-229-251

URL: http://anthropologie.kunstkamera.ru/files/pdf/038/stanyukovich.pdf