Colin Turnbull's

Available at Holland Library:
DT 429 T87

Colin M. Turnbull was born in London, and now lives in Virginia. He was educated at Westminster School and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he studied philosophy and politics. After serving in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve during the War, he held a research grant for two years in the Department of Indian Religion and Philosophy, at Banaras Hindu University, in India, and then returned to Oxford, where he studied anthropology specializing in the African field.

He has made five extended trips to Africa, the last of which was spent mainly in the Republic of Zaire. From these trips he drew the material for his first book, The Forest People, an account of the three years he spent with the Pygmies of Zaire. Both his recent field trips, in Uganda and Zaire, involved him with the process of social change taking place in governments and with other scholars on the problems induced by such change.

Mr. Turnbull is now on the staff of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Virginia Commonwealth University, RIchmond. He is also a Research Associate at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, and a Corresponding Member of Le Musee Royal d'Afrique Centrale.

Excerpt #1
pp. 290-291
The Ik in Comparison with the Modern World

(The Ik) are brought together by self-interest alone, and the system takes care that such association is of a temporary nature and cannot flourish into anything as dysfunctional as affection or trust. Does that sound so very different from our own society? In our own world the very mainstays of of a society based on a truly social sense of mutuality are breaking down, indicating that perhaps society itself as we know it has outworn its usefulness, and that by clinging to an outworn system more proper to the neolithic age we are bringing about our own destruction. We have tinkered with society, patching it up to cope with two thousand years of change, but it shows signs of collapse almost everywhere, and the sign are more violent where the society is more advanced.

Excerpt #2
pp. 133-134
Family Life Devalued in Ik Society

The Ik seem to tell us that the family is not such a fundamental unit as we suppose, that it is not an essential prerequisite for social life except in the biological context. The circumstances that have brought it about, for it certainly was not always so with the Ik, are admittedly extreme, but they are circumstances into which we could all conceivably fall, and the potential for what we might care to call the inhumanity that see in the Ik is within us all. It manifests itself frequently enough everywhere, and with much less justification, but seldom if ever has it attacked the family in a similar way, except at an individual level. But in the crisis of survival facing the Ik, the family was one of the first institutions to go, and the Ik as a society have survived. They still insist on living in villages even though the villages have nothing that could be called a truly social structure, for they encompass no social life, and despite the fact that members of a village mistrust and fear each other more than any others, in direct porportion to their proximity and completely without regard to family and kinship. The mistrust begins within the compound, between a man and his wife, and between each of them and their children.

Excerpt #3
pp. 79-80
Pit Toilet Problems

I was awakened well before dawn by the lowing of cattle and the refreshingly different smell of fresh cattle dung as it overcame the stale odors of old human offal. Some Dodos had arrived to water their herd, water being short almost everywhere else. As dawn broke I saw that htye were not only watering their herd at the edge of the muddy pool, there were also washing themselves and their closths, and evacuating their bladders and bowels all at approximately the same time. I reflected that his was part of the anthropological experience, and in self-defense took out my notebook and told myself that it might all be of the utmost scientific value.

I am sure the psychologists would have something to say about it, but the fact that my field notes are filled with reference to defecation is really no more than a reflection of my zeal in recording everything that I noticed, and, customs being what they were, the phenomenon was open, widespread and highly noticeable. I learned rather early to be equally casual, for there was an old pit toilet nearby where a game warden had once stayed for a few days, and on that second morning, when I bashfully fought my way through a thorn patch to use it and lowered my trousers, the keys to the Land Rover, which I had locked, not knowing the Dodos for the friendly, honest people they were, fell neatly into the mire below. It took me an hour of fishing with a long branch with a forked twig tied to the end as a hook, lying on my stomach with my legs outside the door of the little privy, shining my flashlight down into the murky pit, to recover my keys and make my way back through a cluster of wondering Dodos to the Land Rover, now surrounded by my workers, sitting patiently, pleased at having caught me before I had eaten.

Excerpt #4
pp. 1310-132
Adupa Locked Up in Home to Die

Hunger was indeed more severe than I knew, and the children were the next to go. I was all quite impersonal--even to me, in most cases, since I had been immunized by the Ik themselves against sorrow on their behalf. But Adupa was an exception. Her stomach grew more and more distented, and her legs and arms more spindly. Her madness was such that she did not know just how vicious humans could be, particularly her playmates. She was older than they, and more tolerant. That too was a madness in an Icien world. Even worse, she thought parents were for loving, for giving as well as receiving. Her parents were not given to fantansies, and they had two other children, a boy and a girl who were perfectly normal, so they ignored Adupa, except when she brought them food that she had scrounged from somewhere. They snatched that quickly enough. But when she came for shelter they drove her out, and when she came because she was hungry they laughed that Icien laugh, as if she had made them happy.

Partly through her madness, and partly because she was nearly dead anyway, her reactions became slower and slower. When she managed to find food--fruit peels, skins, bits of bone, half-eaten berries, whatever--she held itin her hand and looked at it with wonder and delight, savoring its taste before she ate it. Her playmates caught on quickly, and used to watch her wandering around, and even put tidbits in her way, and watched her simple drawn little face wrinkle in a smile as she looked at the food and savored it while it was yet in her hand. Then as she raised her hand to her mouth, they set on her with cries of excitement, fun, and laughter, beat her savagely over the head and left her. But that is not how she died. I took to feeding her, which is probably the cruelest thing I could have done, a gross selfishness on my part to try and salve and save, indeed, my own rapidly disappearing conscience. I had to protect her, physically, as I fed her. But the other would beat her anyway, and Adupa cried, not because of the pain in her body, but because of the pain she felt at that great, vast empty wasteland where love should have been.

It was that that killed her. She demanded that her parents love her. She kept going back to their compound, almost next to Atum's and the closest to my own. Finally they took her in, and Adupa was happy and stopped cring. She stopped crying forever, because her parents went away and closed the asak tight behind them, so tight that weak little Adupa could never have moved it if she had tried. But I doubt that she even thought of trying. She waited for them to come back with the food they promised her. When they came back she was still waiting for them. It was a week or ten days later, and her body was already almost too far gone to bury. In a Ik village who would notice the smell? And if she had cried, who would have noticed that? Her parents took what was left o her and threw it out, as one does the riper garbage, a good distance away. They even pulled some stones over it to stop the vultures and hyenas from scattering bits and pieces of their daughter in Atum's field; that would have been offensive, for they were good neighbors and shared the same odok.