Not a Hazardous Sport
Not a Hazardous Sport
Nigel Barley travels to the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia in order to live amongst the Torajan people, reknowned for their spectacular buildings and elaborate ancestor cults. With his customary wit and delight in telling detail, he entertains the reader who is taken on a tour deep into this complex but adaptable society with its labyrinthine structure of mutual feasting. His affection and admiration for the Torajan’s is never in doubt.
The honesty of these friendships also allows Barley to reverse the habitual patterns of anthropology at the end of this book. For Barley becomes host to four Torajan carvers who are invited to live in London while they build a traditional rice barn at the British Museum. The observer is stripped of his anthropological authority and now become the observed, and it is Barley’s turn to explain the absurd complexities of an English city to his bemused but tolerant guests.
This provides a magnificently irreverent and funny finale with which to end a trilogy of anthropological journeys that began with The Innocent Anthropologist, continued with A Plague of Caterpillars and concludes with Not a Hazardous Sport.
‘Another triumph’ Redmond O’Hanlon
‘By turns hilarious, touching and occasionally plain terrifying.’ Evening Standard
Not a Hazardous Sport: Misadventures of an Anthropologist in Indonesia
Format: 192pp demi pb
Nigel Barley, was born in Kingston-on-Thames in 1947 and studied Modern Languages at Cambridge before completing a doctorate in Social Anthropology at Oxford. He taught at University College London and the Slade School of Art before joining The Department of Ethnography at the British Museum in 1988 where he remained for some twenty years. After several academic works, he wrote The Innocent Anthropologist in 1983. It contradicted so many cherished assumptions that it led to calls for his expulsion from the professional body of anthropologists. He remained,however, and now the book has been translated into some twenty-five languages and is often the first work embraced by students of anthropology in their studies. He left the Museum in 2002 and is now a professional writer,living in London and Indonesia. His most recent work is Island of Demons, a fictionalised treatment of the life of the painter Walter Spies.