Community in the Balance presents a fresh perspective on some classic social science issues. It examines the conflicts and tensions that permeate day-to-day interactions of a people in a remote region of the eastern Indonesian province of Maluku. The Maneo openly tout the pleasures of living alone in the forests of Seram away from the demands of kith and kin and the scrutiny that comes from life in villages in close proximity. The option is real. Yet while the incessant social demands and low-level enmities they attribute to village life are also felt, most acutely in the peril of sorcery, the accounts of strife are exaggerated to help establish the mutuality of the terms on which people do associate-as a collective sacrifice and virtue. Drawing on Aristotelian ideas of morality and exploring the modalities of recognition, desire, and displacement, the book focuses on the strategies of negotiation and obfuscation Maneo employ to foster community life. As volition is central to moral practice, the book's analysis of the subsequent religious conflagration that swept the province between 1999 and 2002 illuminates how fears and rumors of attack narrowed options that might otherwise have enabled enough people to opt out, condemn the violence, and perhaps contain it.
“In Hagen’s Community in the Balance, one finds both a fine and deeply empathetic ethnography of a marginal hill-people in Eastern Indonesia and a subtle meditation on the fragility of this, and indeed any, human community. … One of the rewards of this book is that its meditation on community is greatly enriched by a wide reading of contemporary and classical philosophy. … an amazingly rich and subtly argued ethnography.”
—James C. Scott, Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University, in Comparative Studies in Society and History
Dedication. List of Figures. List of Tables. Introduction. Maneo History and Settlement. Reckoning Kinship. Espousal, Choice, and Desire. Marriage, Gender, and the Conditions of Sociality. The Good behind the Gift. Between Faith and Reason. Community in the Visible Spectrum. In the Crucible of Violence.