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Symmetric Respect and Memorate Knowledge: The Structure and Ecology of Individualistic Culture Author(s): Peter M.

Symmetric Respect and Memorate Knowledge: The Structure and Ecology of Individualistic Culture Author(s): Peter M. Gardner Reviewed work(s):

Source: Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Winter, 1966), pp. 389-415 Published by: University of New Mexico

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HERE ARE clearlymany kinds of non-food-producing cultures repre-

sented in the ethnographic literature. Attempts to

classify them have

traditionally been based upon subsistence techniques (hunter, fisher, gatherer). And, more recently,gross aspects of social structurehave been taken as the criteriafor differentiation (patrilineal,bilateral;patrilocal,neolocal). However, apart from evolutionaryapproaches which tend to depend on rigid unilineal sequences and simplepolar dichotomies (Steward1955; Service 1962), we have not yet succeededin replacingdescriptive with processualtypology.

If we reviewthe most recent comparativestudy of food gatherers2 we find that Service (1962) has utilized a large numberof criteriain orderto differen- tiate two types of food gatherers. While the index featureis residence, Service's sample is polarizedby additionalunrelatedfeatures.His patrilocalpeoples, for example, exhibit consanguineal kin groups, hierarchic structuring of statuses, and expression of overt aggression; his composite-typepeoples are mainly non- cooperative and non-competitive.Beginning with this dichotomy, Service has suggested that each of the two recurring constellationsof featuresis associated with a different environment, and he has presented these associationsas a com-

prehensiveexplanation of the

tunately for his argument, an enlargedsample of food gatherers demonstrates that lineal organization (including a unilocal residence rule) varies independ- ently of what Service took to be the constellationof correlatedfeatures.Fur- thermore, Serviceattributedboth flexibleresidenceand the other featuresof his composite societies to environmental pressure, whereasit is apparent that it is

necessary to distinguish between different kinds of environmental pressures,

1 Fieldwork leading to this paper was undertaken from 1962 to 1964 under a fellowship granted by the Ford Foundationand administered by the Joint Committee of the Social Science

ResearchCouncil and the American Council of LearnedSocieties.The conclusions,opinions, and other statements are those of the author and not necessarilythose of the Ford Foundation or the Joint Committee. Several of the ideas were developed under the criticism and stimulation

basic differences among food gatherers. Unfor-

of Louis Dumont, Robert M. Netting, insights and disagreements.

and Arthur J. Rubel. I offer my thanks for their

2 The

term "food gatherers" will be used throughout as a convenient shorthand for

"non-food-producing cultures."


VOL. 22, 1966


someof whichaffectresidencewhileothersinfluencethenatureof interpersonal relations.

This paper willbe concernedwith

describing and explaining a common type

a social system that is structuredin

cooperation and competition. This kindof

of food gatheringculture, one whichhas

sucha way that people avoidboth

culture, whichresemblesService's composite-type in all but residence patterns,

might alsobe called individualistic,or, using the termthathasbeen applied in theNorthAmerican sub-Arctic, "atomistic." The termswhichare used in this paper need clarification.In an earlier statement (Gardner1965a) I used the concepts of interpersonalsymmetry (Bateson1935:181) andavoidanceof overt aggression in orderto characterize the culture type to be described. Now, in orderto develop a morerealistic modelforthe Paliyans of SouthIndia (field researchwithwhom suggested the present theoretical approach), thesetwo concepts willbe combinedanddiscussed

jointly as symmetricrespect.Symmetricrespect represents the Paliyan concep-

tualizationof idealsocialrelations. According to this, one shouldavoidboth

aggression (hencecompetition) and dependence(hencecooperation). Memorate knowledge, anotherfundamental concept for the understanding of Paliyan cul-


is a

termfor knowledge whichis heldon the idiosyncraticlevel, the result

being derivedfrom

tradition (Honko 1965hasusedthis concept, butdidnot pro-

of personalexperience andindividual analysis, ratherthan

groupopinion or

videa formal definition). Individualismis another, broader concept whichwillbe

usedin this paper. It encompasses bothsocal phenomena, suchas Paliyansym-

metric respect, and ideational phenomena such as memorate-level-knowledge. This termis usedwith considerablelatitudeof meaning, in keeping with its

normal usage.

The body

of the paper will comprise a description of the socialand idea-

followed by a survey of food gatherers,

concludewith a tentative ecological and psychological ex-

tionalcultureof Paliyans. This willbe

and the paper will

planation of individualisticculture.


The Paliyans liveonthelowereastern slope of thehillswhichdivideMadras

the majority of the 30 million people of Madras State,Paliyans

from Kerala; thesehillsforma 5,000 to 8,000 foot highspine downthe south- ernmost extremity of India.While they speak a dialectof plainsTamil, the

language of

are physically distinctfrom their Tamil-speakingneighbors of the plains. Their



various physicaltypes fall withinthe range of South and SoutheastAsian

Australoid types,formerly termed Negrito,Malid,Veddid, and proto-Austra- loid. They are physically most similarto the Semang of Malaya and other

Indian gatherers(see

Schebesta 1927; Skeat and

especially Evans 1937; Fiirer-Haimendorf 1945:35-37;

Blagden 1906. See also Coon 1958:29; Fiirer-

Haimendorf 1943:17; Olivier 1961:274-275; Sharma 1963). Culturallytoo,

they resemblethe Semang, as wellas the Kadar,Malapandaram, andChenchu

of India. Today,only a few of the some 3,000Paliyans arenot involvedin contract

labor or agriculture. These few continuein subsistence pursuits,gathering Dioscorea yams,sago,honey, and small, slow game. The Paliyans areat present, and werefor centuries, underextreme pressure from economicallyexploitative


characterizethemas refugees who are still retreating. One should,therefore,

bearin mindthat isolated, conservative Paliyans do not necessarilyrepresent greaterpristineprimitivity thantheirmore economically advancedfellows.The datafor this paper arederivedfrom Paliyanswho,although not yet established in intensiveexternal labor, arein the process of emerging fromthe forest. In the sectionsto follow,Paliyaninterpersonal relationswill be discussed

from four

social control; individualismin theideational sphere thenwill be examined.

socially dominant plains Tamils (Gardner1965a:76-107). It is correctto

standpoints:socialization,non-cooperation,non-competition, and


During the first stage of Paliyan child rearingindulgence is very prominent.

Specifically, if Whiting and Child'sfive areasof socialization (oral, anal,

sexual,dependence, and

7, with7 as indulgent), the Paliyans wouldbe givenratings(6

areaswhichareso extremethat they havean

thatof anygroup in the Whiting andChild sample(Whiting andChild1953:

56-57,69-70,73-74,77-93,98-102, 103). Examples of Paliyanindulgence are notedbelow.

or 7) in all five

aggression) areusedandif we followtheirscale (1 to

overallinitial indulgencebeyond

The most inappropriate

elimination accidents, such as in a grandparent's

fireplace, arouseno concern.Thereareno sexualrestraintsin the earlyyears:

thereis no clothing, no segregation of the sexes, andno punishment or disap-

proval of

and waking hoursin direct physical contactwithits mother's body, in the day-

time resting on herleft hip in a sling formedfromher upper saricloth.The mother gives herbreastto thechildat the slightestwhimper, as oftenas fouror

manipulation. The child spends mostof its sleeping

genital interestor


fivetimesanhour. Denial, even during the night, wouldbe inconceivable.There is a great amountof maternalwarmth during these earlyyears, andmuchcon- cernis expressed for the infant.Outburstsof anger are avertedor appeased quickly, if possible. The second stage of child rearing is one of transition. Coincidingroughly with weaning at the age of 2 or 21/, thechildis put downmoreoftenor even

left in the village with a relativewhilethe motherworkselsewhereall

Facing situationswithoutcontinuousmaternal guidance and indulgence for the

first time, the childreceivesits firstreal punishment, a food or striking otherchildren. During this period the

tempts to ignore herchild'sdemands.Whenthe child presses for attention, it

is a common sight to

her eyes. Whenthis occurs, the child

cally,pulls its hair, and stamps its feet, while remaining in

whichremindsone of the child's

mother's hip. Sometimesit curls upon its sideandsobs loudly. A

or aunt may on occasion pickup the childin an attempt to pacifyit, but it will

seldombe calmedin less than 10 to 20 minutes.Suchtantrums may continue

untilthechildis 4 or 5; in onecasethe episodespersisted until10 years of age.


mild slap for stealing mother frequently at-

seethemother busy her hands,tighten her lips, andavert

usually becomes enraged, cries spasmodi-

position and range

a squattingposition

of movementson the



child's independencedevelopsfairlyrapidly;by age 4, the basicsocial

years of age the child playsquietly withothers

beingsocially skilledandself-confident.The transi-

rulesareseldomviolated. By 5

and gives the impression of

tion stage has been passed and the

after, change is only a matterof degree, for there are no furtherradical

childmoves slowly into adulthood.Here-


achievedat different ages in the variousbehavorial spheres:

emotional independence is reached first, followed by technologicalskills,

then by social independence. A

and, in fact, is not underthe

the childis 13 or 14 yearsold, thereis full independence in economicmatters.

Independence is


childof 8

or 9 seemsto be beyondpunishment

authority of any other person.Finally, whenthe

self-relianceare reinforced by

year old child mayplay

of a tree.In one

The child's attempts at independence and

adult expectations andlack of supervision. A 2 or 3

on roof tops or withbill hookswithout supervision fromadult relativeswho

are present, anda 5

case, whena boy of 9 returnedfroma

prepared the foodfor cooking.

Only a few instancesof parentalsupervisionappear in my 18 months'record of Paliyan activities.

food, his5 year old sisterstarteda firewhilehe

year old may climbunwatchedto the


plantation withhis day'searnings of



The markedfeaturesof child rearing are initial



tinuity at the age of 2 or 2/2, especially as regardsdependence and aggression training, and early smooth assumption of adultrolesafterthe turbulenttransi-

tional period is over.The fatheris friendly and

otherrelativesdo enterthe picture, it is the mother'swarmthandsudden rejec-


warm throughoutand,



Nuclearfamiliesconstitutethe only unitsof Paliyansociety characterized

by co-operation. Even so, withinthe family, divisionof laboris not marked,

and marriage is regarded as a


elderly, livealoneforextended periods.Normally,however, themarital pair con-

stitutesthe coreof a

distinct familygroup. Andthemarital pair is thelocusof sharing in thesevarious

areas.On the other hand,marriage(kalyanam)may involveno sharing, as

shown by oneinstancein whicha

no foodin fourmonths.Each spouse had

bothhad helped feedthe children.In a caseof polygamy or polyandry or when

the householdincludesadditionaladult relatives, the exclusivenessof some aspects of marital sharingmayequally wellbeabsent.

provided hisor herown food,though

necessityonly for thosewhoareunableto provide

conspicuous numberof people never marry and many, eventhe

residentially,sexually,procreatively, and economically

couple,thoughlivingtogether, had exchanged

Marriage is founded upon egalitarianism, breachof whichis grounds for

separation.Indeed,fragile, short-term marriages arealmostthe ruleas a result

of inevitableconflicts.In


mally lives only in a village in whichoneof the

in residence, a village or bandwould correspond to a shapeless, unstructured

aggregation of those persons whoare together at a given time.What is more,


tivitiesandare economicallyindependent of cies.Even then,only certain primary bonds

grownchild)oblige a memberof

of another.Thereareno kin groupslarger thanthe nuclear family so thatthe village lacks organized subunitsother than these minimalsocial units. No

corporate functionsare associatedwith

funeralsare likely to be the

formalized ways of uniting, either

timesof crisis.For example, a snake huntingparty formedwhenthereis an

thesame way that marriagepartnerships are continually

flux, so alsois villagemembership. If it werenot that a Paliyancouple nor-

partners hasa primary relative

nuclear families,althoughusuallyrelated,engage in separate,parallel ac-

oneanother except in real emergen-


onenuclear family to extendaid to a member



only marriages and

focusof shared,village-wideactivity. Thereareno

"democratically" or under leaders,during


alarmnearthe village showslittle organization or cohesion.As often as not, the ring of people aboutthe snakeis left incomplete, and it is allowedto escape.

not looked upon

shortcoming.Rather,self-sufficiency is expected of all, from youths to the

aged. To fail in this regard is to interferewiththe rights of others.Justas they


as a

The general lackof co-operation in the practicalsphere is


the Paliyans alsoavoidcloseemotionalties:

sex partners meet hastily andwithout fondling or verbal expressions of endear-

ment; mothers permit themselves only two

children;and, for reasonsto be madeclear later,friendships are socially un-

acceptable. Thus independence and lack of socialinvolvement may be saidto

beof psychological

yearsunqualified attentionto their

aswellassocial significance

to the Paliyans.


recapitulate,Paliyans workandlivein

parallel ratherthan joint fashion

andexhibitlittle co-operation outsidetheirratherloosenuclearfamilies. They

are hesitantto become emotionally involvedwithothersand equally reluctant to unitetoward practicalgoals. Thereis a verystrongexpectation for autonomy.


The Paliyans are very quick to assert a code of non-violence.As one man

expressed it: "If struckon one side of the face, you turn the other side toward


On a lesser order,competition in games is ruled out. Though the Paliyans have borrowedthe game of prisoner's base from their neighbors,complete with the verbalized "rules," the real rules, which are taken for granted and actually followed, are quite different. By the Paliyans' actual rules, both the elements

of cooperation and competition are ruled out; the game becomes, in effect, a ballet with as many prima donnas as participants. No one catches anyone else and, in fact, no player expresses much interestin another's performance.

Egalitarianism describeswell one aspect of the non-competitive roles within Paliyan society. While there are persons set off from others by their status as

"headmen" (nattame), statusesare not ranked, and ferencesbetween any two people other than parent

spring. Egalitarianism with respect to sex, generation, and age is a conscious ideal, frequentlyexpressed in discussingkinship behavior.Bateson's concept of

symmetrical, as against complementary, roles is most this phenomenon(Bateson1935). Balance or equality must be maintained by those

receive. First, donors (of material goods, affection, or any other commodity)

attacker."Avoidanceof overt aggression is consideredto be their first


there are no authority dif- and socially immatureoff-

appropriate for labelling

who give and those who



must respect others among their kin by avoiding unnecessarypreferences or priorities. Excessiveattentionto one person is an infringement on the rights of

others,friendshipbeing seen as a discriminatory or aggressive act becauseof the undesirable implication that othersarenot friends.3 Secondly, recipients of materialwealth and goodwill feel equal pressure to conform. Social or economic differences must be minimized or denied and

Paliyans are self-consciousabout receivinganything which sets them off others. For example, when it was noted that Virappan had gathered far

soap nuts than anyone else for a forest contractorand would be paid

squirmeduncomfortably and deniedit. Then he smiled,placed his hand on the next man'sshoulderand in effectsaid that tomorrowthe otherman would collect morethanhe.

Disrespect, whether resulting from actual overt aggression or from role structuring which merely hints at competition, is strictlyprohibited. The Paliyan term for disrespect is tarakkorava.This can be compared with standardTamil tarakkuraivay,from taram,status, and kuraiv3y, "to diminish,dwindle, be re-


," (Burrow and Emeneau 1961: entry 1537) the combinedform

being translatedas "to loweror diminishstatus."The concept is best explained

by a few observed examples.



more, he


1. A youth frequently

who was


with his

motherand stepfather had sexual


and the





she was fetching


returning Subban



as man and

accusationsof disrespect,

Rajamma talked angrily of


only biological



fatherleft home for two weeks.On his returnthe


entire family followedhimthere.

with his mother. She became

realizedthe situation.An argument ensued.As the offended party, the












for a week.On




scarce, Old


youth movedto a nearbyplantation to locatea job,

with anotherman while

Case2. Subbansaw his wife

water.When Subbanaccusedher of flirting she became

in return.Hurt

found his formerwife still


wife. As the

marital realignmentgave no furtherbasisfor

harmony wasrestored.

by her words, he left



with his parents, but she had been


her formerlover



the man at the


time when food was

leaving her



defenseof his

husbandbecausehe was

old man did not

particularly attentiveto

of food to the


two-year-old. She accusedhim of

to his wife'sharshverbalattacklest a

respect. The

position be furtherevidenceof his partiality,deepening the insult.

3 Normally, moderatedemonstrationsof friendship are

permitted between primary kin

or between secondary relativeswhoarelinked aflinally, suchas a womanandherhusband's

motherora manandhissister'shusband.


These three examples of disrespect are all rather unusual. They are pre-

sented in order to show that disrespect is given more

than the variousothersocialbreachesreferredto in the aboveaccounts.In many cases, including the first two given here, it appears that authoritarianbehavior whichtakes the form of angry adviceis the real basis for charges of disrespect. This behavioralso may be thought of as competitive. But while Paliyan avoidance of competition is directed exclusively toward avoiding disrespect, it is not the only form of disrespect. As shown in the precedingsection, lack of self-suffi- ciency is regarded as a breachof the rights of othersand thereforeconstitutes disrespect.Symmetricrespect has two componentsthen, proscribingcompetition or other acts thought to be aggressive and disallowingdependence.

attention by the Paliyan


Social mechanismsfor problemsolving in an individualistic society are not


social controlsor joint, group-administered controls.Within such a framework, there are,however, six maincontroldevices.

discerned. Paliyan premisespreclude either superordinately administered


The ideal for Paliyans is that overt

aggression or grossdisrespect of any

said by the people to

otherkind will not occur.The

be the ruleaboveall otherrules.As noted earlier, childreninternalizethis valueat




anger a tranquilizer is available, the sirupanipu, or laughing flower (which has not

beenidentified botanically); thisis crushedon the forehead by an angered individual.

Understandably, there is


proscription of aggression is

early age. The Paliyansattempt

to prevent outburstsof hostilitieswhichhave

suppressed or repressed.Consequently,drinking of alcoholis carefully avoided

intoxicants permit the

expression of aggression. To

much tensionwhen the rule of

symmetricrespect con-

expressanger or hostility. One notes especially

fantasysphere,particularlyenjoying the violent aspect

power overothers.

(2) When frictiondoes arise,

persons called "headmen," of whomthere may

be severalin


imposition of authority

flictswiththe needsof individualsto

that Paliyans have an active

of Tamil-language filmsand dreaming of

matureindividuals frequentlystep forwardand

talk to the parties in conflict,joking with them or soothing their feelings. These

a village or,

are the

in a few villages, none at all. Their role is best describedas that of

whichare in con-

reducing frictionbetween symmetricalcomponents of the society

flict. The effortsof the conciliatorsare acted out without

from above, for the headmenhave no mandateto order,arbitrate, or even suggest

more appropriate behavior.

(3) If, despiteconciliation, conflictis not suppressed or averted, the two parties

must separate.Separation, as a

child, slapped too hard by

the rest of the day by anotherwomanwho was not even a relativeand who had

example, a

the mother, was removedfrom the latterand fed for

social mechanism, is widely

used. For


several dependants of her own. This case,and othersof a similarnaturestandout



in serial

unions, each of whichwas

separation as a form of social

forestfor two weeks.



extraordinaryexamples of actual cooperation between

samenuclear family.Spousesseparate at

marriages. For example, one girl

after each

persons not membersof

the first quarrel, whichoften results

of fifteen rotatedbetweenthree men,

quarrel; she had experiencedeight

referredto as a marriage. In anotherinstanceof

control, a villageargument led to half a villageretiring to the

Paliyan discretiondictatesthe avoidanceof

exploitative and aggressive. This deviceof


and promiscuous in hisown community.

outsiders, mostof whom they regard as separation to avertconflicthas led to the

vis-a-visthe outsideworldand unstable

stereotype of the tribal Paliyan:shy

(4) On rareoccasionsaccusationsof sorcery are overheard.The suggestion is

that sorceryprovides a covertmeansof retaliationfor thosewhohavebeenoffended. Fearof suchretaliationconstitutes good reasonfor controlledbehaviortowardthose

with whom conflict alreadyprevails;indeed, even accusationsare not voiced too loudly.

arereferredto as tata,"grand-

father," and are asked for adviceand protection. Advice is sought at times of

unusual personalproblems or when the entire


during timesof drought when yams aredifficultto

godspossess and speakthrough the living.


In seriouscrisesand situationsin whichauthoritativedecisionsare needed,



community faces crises, such as The


as this if he has

disabilityusually is attributedto the attackof spirits.

only a boil,

emphasizes his dependenceby exaggerated

use of a


and facialdistress.With

authoritativedecisionscan be made and reassurance

symmetric rolesand self-

dancing and speech

laughingbystanders offer worship. When they possessmen, the


and commandsare voiced in

a mannerthat would

at timesof illness, The

displays of weakness; a staggeringstance,

the gods in a guardianrole,

found without interfering with purely human patterns of

reliance.Catharsisis achievedas childrenand eldersimitatethe

of the gods while

gods are cursedand


patient, even

disrespectful-sufficiently so to requireseparation-if a person were addressed.

(6) Incest,theft, andmurder (of

the last, no casesare on

record) are expected


to drawdirect supernaturalpunishment in the formof an accidentor


So far, this discussionhas centered upon the social side of Paliyan culture. In the ideational sphere there are some interesting expressions of the same individualism.

Three Paliyans sat around a healthy bush with plentiful leaves and fruit, the wood of which is one of five used for digging sticks. They gave me three differentnames for the bush and argued among themselvesover the name for several minutes becausethe alternativeswere not synonymous.Finally, one of them laughed, turnedto me, and said, 'Well, we all know how to use it!" This would have little significanceas an isolated case, but many similar incidents


were recorded.For coveredto be one of

example, a snake mis-identified by a young the threelethal vipers of South India.4

Just as Paliyans have problems with natural taxonomy,they

man was dis-

manifest diffi-

culty providing models or rules to describesocial practices such as residence. They often speak as if generalizing, but their statements always reflect what

has happened most recently in the experiential world of themselvesor of their immediatefamilies. Virtually all of the verbal formulaswhich I elicited from them pertain to the culture contact sphere-for example, the verbalizedbut disregarded rules for prisoner'sbase, and the equally disregarded rules for marriagepreference-which are symbols of orthopraxy, and hence respectability, from the standpoint of the plains Tamils (Gardner 1965a). In the purely intracommunalcontext there are no formal verbalizedrules except those per- taining to non-violence. Field investigation revealedthat informantslackedeitherthe ability or desire

to repeat songs, prayers, or rituals verbatim.I ascertainedthat there tabu on repetition; the informants provided a unique versioneach time

they placed no value on a set or traditionalversion.This type of individualism recurredin other spheres: therewereno formalizedbodiesof knowledge;greater respect was not accordedthose who had accumulatedlore with age (in fact, of

the many herbalistsin

ing did not exist; and traditional usages and concernwith precedents were sub- ordinatedto individual, ad hoc, rational decision making. It is worth noting that Paliyans communicate very little at all times and becomealmost silent by

the age

often as offensive. Gossip is practically non-existent. Malinowski, half a centuryago, madethe distinctionbetween privateopinion

and social belief (Malinowski1954:237-242). Honko has recently revivedthese concepts, but he uses the terms"memorate"and "general" belief (Honko 1965:

9-10). While these two authors merely wishedto distinguish differentlevels of knowledge within a given culture, Durkheim once raised some interesting

was no


one small village, most were quite young); formalteach-

of 40. Verbal, communicative persons are regarded as abnormaland

thoughts aboutthe same phenomena.


representations are the result of an immense co-operation, which

stretchesout not only into space but into time as well; to make them, a multitude

of mindshave associated, unitedandcombinedtheirideasandsentiments;for them,

4 Although

thereis no reasonfor all culturesto havethe sameor evensimilartaxonomic

universes,Paliyan culturestands out in lacking color categories. This and other unusual

featuresof Paliyan ethno-scienceareto be describedin detail in a separatepaper.



long generations have accumulatedtheir experience and their knowledge(Durk- heim

If men did not agree on theseessentialideasat everymoment, if they did not


have the same conception of time, space,cause,number,etc., all contactbetween


not abandonthe categories to the free choiceof the individualwithout abandoning

itself (Durkheim1915:17).

Was it not an actual case of this individualismwhich led Levi-Straussto report, "I had been looking for a society reduced to its simplest expression. The society of the Nambikwara had been reduced to the point at which I found nothing but human beings" (1961:310). Cultureis possible in whichthe cooperationleading to conformity is replaced by individualism, in which most knowledge is held on the opinion or memorate level, and in which formality and taxonomic precision are maximallyidiosyn- craticand minimally valued.

impossible, and with that, all life

together. Thus society could


The main feature of Paliyan social structurefrom both the Paliyan and an

outsider's viewpoint is symmetricrespect. Socialcontroldevices permit this

individualistic society to have order, even though deities must be recruitedto


provide an importantpart of the governance. In the section on sorializationit

was commentedthat childrenare prepared for their individualism by an push towards autonomy and self-control.The emotional disaffection, as

distrustof others, whichadult Paliyans manifesttowardeach otherand outsiders is consonantwith Whiting and Child's expectations in situationsof early, severe

aggressiontraining (Whiting and Child 1953:281). Idiosyncratichandling of the ideational sphere is in no less harmony with the rest of the culture. Given


dispersal and population flux on the one hand, and becauseof mutual disaffec-

tion on the other, collationand systematization of the sum of the experiences of

those in a group will be

vail for lack of alternatives. The origins of these variousfeaturesof Paliyan culturewill not be discussed

full until cross-culturalevidencehas been presented.However, it is relevant note that the Paliyans are refugeesinhabiting a narrow,inhospitable,thorny,



dry, stonystrip along the lower slope of the hills. They are caught betweentwo

aggressive agriculturalpopulations and are subject to continual bullying, ex- ploitation, and contempt. There is historicalevidenceto support the idea that




low level of communicationwhich Paliyans achieve becauseof geographic

limited severely. Idiosyncraticconceptualizationspre-


this contact pattern is centuriesor even millenia old (Gardner 1965a). It is possible to obtainsome idea of the origin of the Paliyan concernwith individual autonomy by taking into account both their chronic exposure to threats of extinctionand the circumstanceswhich made withdrawalor subserviencemore realisticthan attempts at retaliation.


In this section a sample of the world's food gatherers will be reviewedin orderto provide a furtherbasis for understanding and explaining the emphases found in Paliyan culture. Similarities and dissimilaritiesin the culture and ecology of other food gatherers will allow us to talk with more certainty about causality.


The following 26 cultures,representing the majority of the food gathering culture areasof the world, comprise the sample used for comparative analysis:

Africa, !Kung and Mbuti; South Asia,Chenchu,Kadar,Malapandaram, Vedda,

and Yanadi; Southeast Asia, Andamanese, Phi Tong Luang, and Semang;

Australia, Murgin

and Walbiri; North America, Caribou Eskimo, Coastal

Alaskan Eskimo, Kaska (at two time periods), Northern Shoshoni, Polar

Eskimo,Saulteaux,Tlingit, Western Shoshoniand Southern Paiute, and Win-

tun; SouthAmerica, Nambikuara,Ona,Siriono, and Yahgan.5


Although sufficientdetailsfor a completepicture areseldom provided, it is clearthat 8 of the 12 food gathering cultureson whichwe havesomechild

5 The sources of

ethnographic data and contextual information are as follows: !Kung,

Marshall 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961, Thomas 1959; Mbuti, Gusinde 1942, Putnam 1948, Turn-

bull 1960, 1961,

Rangachari1909; Kadar, Ehrenfels 1952; Malapandaram, Fiirer-Haimendorf 1960, Luiz 1962;

Vedda, Bailey 1863, Seligmann and Seligmann 1911; Yanadi, Aiyappan 1948, Raghaviah 1962; Andamanese, Man 1882, Radcliffe-Brown 1922, Temple 1903; Phi Tong Luang, Ber- natzik 1951, Burling 1965; Semang, Evans 1937, Forde 1934, Schebesta 1927, Skeat and Blagden 1906; Murngin, Thompson 1949, Warner 1958; Walbiri, Meggitt 1962; Caribou Eskimo, Birket-Smith 1929, Weyer 1932; Coastal Alaskan Eskimo, Lantis 1946, Larsen and

Rainey 1948, Spencer 1959, Weyer 1932; Kaska, Honigmann 1949, 1954, 1960; Northern Shoshoni, Oliver 1962, Steward 1938; Polar Eskimo, Rasmussen 1908, Weyer 1932; Saulteaux, Callender 1962, Dunning 1959, Hallowell 1955, Landes 1937; Tlingit, Krause 1956; Western

1950; Wintun, Goldschmidt

Shoshoni and Southern Paiute, Steward 1938, B. B. Whiting

1948, McKem 1922; Nambikuara, Livi-Strauss 1961; Ona, Cooper1946a, Lothrop1928;

1946c, Gusinde 1961, Lothrop

1965; Chenchu, Aiyappan 1948, Fiirer-Haimendorf 1943, Thurston and

Siriono, Holmberg 1950; Yahgan, Bird 1946, Cooper 1946b,




rearing information closely resemblethe Paliyans, whereasthe remaining four are markedly different. For the most part the available information pertains only to presence or absenceof initial indulgence, whichis only part of the child rearingpattern. For the Sirionowe find indulgence in the areasof cleanliness, elimination, and feeding, with late weaning. There is a familiar lack of both "teaching" and corporalpunishment and when they have expressedaggression

against their children, "mothersalmost always cry

77). The last phenomenon has often been noted among Paliyans. Holmberg reports a period of tantrums, and early self-reliance (1950:77-79). The Kaska are described similarly as regards absenceof authoritarian parental roles and an

early push towards self-sufficiency (Honigmann 1949:310-311). The

cultureswhichresemble Paliyans are the Yanadi, Semang, Shoshoniand Paiute,

Chenchu, and CaribouEskimo. In contrast, the Andamanese,Walbiri, Kaska (based on Honigmann's reconstruction,1954), and Tlingit structure parent- child relationships in a harsher, moreauthoritarian way.

." (Holmberg 1950:75-



Non-cooperation is expressed in the literaturein a numberof ways: by terms such as social or psychological "atomism"or "intense individualism,"by ref- erence to economicallyindependent nuclear families, and by description of various practices such as abandoning the aged or expecting self-relianceeven of the physically unfit. With only a few ambiguouscases, our sample breaks downinto cooperative and non-cooperative cultures. The term "atomism"has been applied particularly in the North American sub-Arctic.Two culturesfrom this region, Kaska (Honigmann 1949:208-209)

and Saulteaux (Hallowell 1955:105), have been described vividly in these terms. Honigmann uses the concept of atomism in the sense of social and

economic self-sufficiency, and Hallowell as centering on emotional disaffection, but one findsbothsortsof atomismin bothsocieties.6 Good data are availablefor the Siriono, who are depictedby Holmberg as being "intensely" individualistic (1950:60). The same peoples characterizedas

individualistic usually also have the nuclear family as sive) economicunit.

the basic (if not exclu-

Most important for our purposes are cases which show non-cooperation in

the extreme.Dramaticevidenceof

a demand for self-sufficiency is forthcoming

6 The phenomena which could be labelled atomistic in Paliyan society, similarly, are both social and psychological. Taking the concept in its broadest sense, we find atomism in either or both the social and psychologicalspheres in a number of the cultures in our sample.


from the !Kung,Mbuti, WesternShoshoni, Siriono, and CaribouEskimo. Eskimoevictionof thoseunableto care for themselvesbecauseof incompe-

tenceor infirmity(Birket-Smith 1929:1 258, 264-265) is well knownbut by no meansunique.The Mbuti, Shoshoni,and Sirionoalso abandonthe aged (Turbull 1961:34-36; Steward 1938:240;Holmberg1950:85). In curiously

similar episodes, boththe !Kung andSirionofailedto

individualslost near

eachof theseculturesthe abandoned person is expected to look afterhimself

so as not to interferewiththe rights of others.This is a


respond to the criesof

camp (Thomas1959:122-123;Holmberg1950:98). In

perfectparallel to one

thetwo components of the Paliyanconcept of symmetricrespect. The contrastbetween gathering