Gregory Forth

Gregory Forth
University of Alberta | UAlberta · Department of Anthropology

Doctor of Philosophy (Oxon.)

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105
Publications
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683
Citations
Citations since 2017
23 Research Items
307 Citations
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201720182019202020212022202301020304050
201720182019202020212022202301020304050

Publications

Publications (105)
Article
Besides their namesake island and several immediately neighboring small islands, Komodo monitors (Varanus komodoensis)better known as Komodo dragonsalso occur on the larger island of Flores to the east. Apart from the extreme western part of Flores, the giant lizards occur along the island's northern coast; but how far eastward they extend remains...
Article
Forty years ago Robert Blust published a comprehensive, comparative analysis of what he called the ‘thunder complex’. Found among linguistically and culturally diverse populations in the Philippines, Indonesia, and peninsular Malaysia, the complex comprises a series of taboos and rites that centre on a belief that certain actions involving a confus...
Article
Languages that divide the five conventional senses into two named categories, one including vision and the other all non-visual senses, occur sporadically around the world. Focusing on Ngadha-Lio, a group of Malayo-Polynesian languages spoken on Flores Island (eastern Indonesia), the present discussion reaches several conclusions. First, Ngadha-Lio...
Article
Full-text available
A Catholic priest and amateur palaeontologist, Father Theodor Verhoeven (SVD) is best known for his discovery of sites on Flores Island (Indonesia) that yielded fossilized remains of Middle Pleistocene stegodons and lithic materials suggesting early occupation by pre-sapiens hominins. Eventually, these finds influenced investigations that resulted...
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On the eastern Indonesian island of Flores, the Lio and neighboring ethno-linguistic groups report rare encounters with freshwater turtles and giant land crabs. Though neither species has yet to be scientifically documented for Flores, local descriptions of these animals closely correspond to Cuora amboinensis, a species of box turtle found elsewhe...
Article
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Drawing on previous publications by the author, this article brings together information on folk classification and symbolic values of bats among the Nage people of the Indonesian island of Flores. This information is supplemented by new data from more recent field-based ethnobiological research in Nage and other parts of Flores, and is analyzed co...
Article
Expanding on recent anthropological writing on cryptozoology, this paper demonstrates how animals perceived as both rare and cosmologically anomalous can be usefully compared with cryptids, “mystery” animals not currently recognized by scientific zoology. The case is advanced with reference to the dugong (Dugong dugon) as experienced by the Lio peo...
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One way birds communicate knowledge to humans and facilitate communication among humans is through metaphors. A recent book discusses animal metaphors, nearly a third of which employ birds as analogy, used by the Nage people of Flores Island (eastern Indonesia). As applied to human beings and human behaviors, bird metaphors reveal considerable over...
Article
In the Lio region of Flores Island patrilineal groups coexist with taboos on animals and plants inherited through females, a combination previously interpreted as reflecting a system of double unilineal descent. Drawing on ethnography from the Lio district of Mego, maternal taboos are shown to accompany similar prohibitions conceived as a property...
Article
This is the first published account of kin classification of Mego, a district in the extreme eastern part of the Lio region of Flores Island. Despite recent changes affecting marriage practices, the terminology survives as a classification of asymmetric alliance. Terminological usage is discussed with reference to traditional social forms and compa...
Article
Although occurring elsewhere in Indonesia, the coconut crab — the only member of the genus Birgus — has yet to be documented on the island of Flores or adjacent islands in the Lesser Sundas. In the Lio region of Flores, however, people in the district of Mego describe a very large entirely terrestrial crab occasionally encountered between 2 and 7 k...
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Full-text available
Coined in 1890, the term “ethnozoology” denotes one of the main branches of ethnobiology. Addressing ways in which humans relate to animals, ethnozoologists investigate knowledge of animals revealed in systems of naming and classification as well as practical, economic, and symbolic uses of animals characteristic of particular societies. Typically,...
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Rites of passage are inextricably associated with Arnold van Gennep. Such rites are most closely associated with initiations of various kinds and with major changes in the life cycle. As Van Gennep showed, changes of social status typically comprise ritual acts distinguishable as “rites of separation,” “rites of transition,” and “rites of incorpora...
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Since the inception of the discipline, anthropologists have endeavored to explain why people the world over develop ideas that lack empirical support and how such ideas are accepted as true. This article deals with a claim found among the Nage people of eastern Indonesia, namely, that extremely elderly people grow tails. The idea is discussed in re...
Article
Sex differentiable terms are lexemes that distinguish sex or gender among both humans and nonhuman animals. Focused linguistically and ethnograph-ically on the island of Flores and neighboring islands in eastern Indonesia, the main topic is sex differentiable terms for animals and how these form distinct patterns in different languages. A pattern w...
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Among symbolic representations of animals, birds appear to play a disproportionately large part. This paper explores the symbolism of a particular bird, the Russet-capped Stubtail (Tesia everetti), among the Nage of eastern Indonesia. The stubtail features in several contexts of Nage augury, myth, and metaphor but, in each instance, it stands in op...
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p>Based on recent field research on Flores Island, this paper describes the classification of fish found among the Lio people. Formally, Lio fish taxonomy closely resembles that of the Nage of central Flores, discussed in a previous paper (Forth 2012), but differs insofar as several kinds of freshwater fish, all members of the Gobioidei, are subsum...
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Chapter
Colin, The chapter you requested is in a book 'Anthropology and Cryptozoology', ed. Samantha Hurn. I don't have a pdf. Instead I send an article re zoologically undocumented Coconut crabs. G. Forth gforth@ualberta.ca
Book
Full-text available
Paper 978-1-4875-2001-4 $36.95 (£20.99) Cloth 978-1-4875-0004-7 $85.00 (£47.99) eBook 978-1-4875-1006-0 $36.95 (£20.99) Why the Porcupine Is Not a Bird is a comprehensive analysis of knowledge of animals and human-animal relations among the Nage people of central Flores in Indonesia. Gregory Forth's in-depth discussion of how the Nage people concep...
Article
Full-text available
Expanding on previously published research into folk classification of birds in the eastern part of the Indonesian island of Sumba, this article reports new information on bird categories and classification recorded by the author in 2015. New folk taxa are described and identified and scientific identifications for previously reported taxa are adde...
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Variation in folk knowledge of biological kinds among members of a single ethno-linguistic community has long been a focus of ethnobiological attention and interest. Concentrating on variable local understandings of animal names, this paper discusses three forms of binary names applied to animal categories among the Nage of Flores Island, eastern I...
Article
Gugu is one of several names applied to a mystery primate from southern Sumatra, nowadays better known as orang pendek, which was first identified in the European literature over 200 years ago. The article reviews western reports of gugu, paying particular attention to linguistic evidence compiled by the missionary-ethnologist L. W. Jennissen and r...
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The Nage people of Flores island, eastern Indonesia, recognize an unnamed (or “covert”) life-form category comprising several named kinds of lizards as a distinct component of their folk zoological taxonomy, a general purpose classification of animals based primarily on universally observable morphological and behavioral features. Exploring symboli...
Article
This unusual and richly-illustrated book is the story of the relationship between the Nage people of eastern Indonesia and the birds alongside which they co-exist. Based on fieldwork carried out over a period of some fifteen years, it aims for a total view of how a human community interacts with another zoological class, giving birds a chosen place...
Article
In languages of central Flores (eastern Indonesia), domestic goats are labeled with reflexes of the Proto—Malayo-Polynesian (PMP) term for 'deer' (Cervus timorensis). At the same time, deer are named with the same lexeme plus a modifier, being designated in effect as 'forest goats'. This development is best explained as the product of a marking-rev...
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In many parts of the world one encounters a disapprobation of living beings, either animals or humans, walking, jumping, or otherwise crossing a corpse. Nearly as widespread as aversion to the act is one supposed consequence: the corpse is believed to become reanimated. Drawing on a variety of cases, this article describes the distribution of the i...
Article
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Resumen La taxonomie zoologique populaire du peuple Nage, habitant la zone centrale de l'Ile de Flores (Indonésie), classifie les mammifères sauvages dans treize taxons «génériques populaires» («folk generics» sensu Berlin) nommés. De ceux-ci presque la moitié correspondent aux muridés (rats et souris). En plus, les Nages emploient le terme dhéke,...
Article
Full-text available
Speakers of a Central-Malayo-Polynesian language, the Nage inhabit the central region of the eastern Indonesian island of Flores. Their folk taxonomy of animals (ana wa) contains three named life-form taxa, one of which is ika, fish. A review of component folk-generic taxa, however, reveals that Nage do not classify five kinds of freshwater fish as...
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It has been suggested that the newly discovered hominin species Homo floresiensis may have survived on the Indonesian island of Flores so recently as to inform local images of small‐bodied hominoids. Taking an ethnobiological approach, the article discusses how this matter could be resolved empirically, and concludes that this will ultimately requi...
Article
The Nage people of eastern Indonesia prescribe several plant foods believed to initiate the flow of a new mother's milk. Nage assert that a woman should follow the galactogogue prescribed by her husband's clan, thus connecting the practice with a segmentary social organization in what can be seen as the inverse of Nage plant totemism. A review of a...
Article
Speakers of a Central-Malayo-Polynesian language, the Nage of Flores Island, Indonesia, name five folk generic categories of lizards. Ethnographic questioning and observed speech indicate that Nage additionally recognize a more inclusive, but unnamed, taxon glossable as ‘lizard’. Evidence for this taxon has further been generated by a modified form...
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Recent writing on hominoid images from Flores Island reveals local conceptions of creatures, now mostly regarded as extinct, which seem zoologically realistic, or natural rather than supernatural. Drawing partly on narratives from the Rajong district recorded by J.A.J. Verheijen, this article explores an attribute that adds to this realism, and hen...
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Central to Rodney Needham's writing on symbolism was 'symbolic classification', an analytical category which, although often associated with Durkheim and Mauss, was demonstrably Needham's own coinage. This article traces the development of the usage from its first appearance in 1959 to Needham's later expression of doubt as to its meaning. Followin...
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The world's largest lizard, the Komodo dragon, occurs not only on its namesake island but also on the far larger eastern Indonesian island of Flores. Since it first became known to western science in the early 20th century, local people have provided information on the species, its ecology, and distribution on Flores. While the lizard's occurrence...
Article
In this paper the A. explores instances of parallelism encountered in the mundane speech of the Nage people of central Flores. These mundane speech forms he describes as 'lexical pairing', partly in order to distinguish them from the parallelistic expressions of Nage ceremonial language
Article
Apres avoir repris la definition du shamanisme de Wilken, l'A. compare les praticiens mystiques (« toa mali ») et les personnes qui entrent en transe (« ata ta'a hitu ») chez les Nage des Flores centrales afin de comprendre leurs pratiques spirituelles. Si les deux s'engagent dans des voyages de l'esprit, ils s'opposent dans les methodes (reve/tran...
Article
Previous analysis of sex differentiable terms (or SDTs, words that distinguish sexes in humans and nonhuman animals) has shown how they can coincide with folk zoological life-form taxa and, at the same time, provide evidence of covert taxa, notably a category of "mammals." In this article, the system of SDTs employed by the Nage of eastern Indonesi...
Article
In 2006 drilling by an Indonesian oil company precipitated an eruption of volcanic mud which has rendered a large area in East Java uninhabitable. Failed attempts to stop the eruption gave rise to a rumour that Javanese were scouring other islands in search of numerous human heads in order to quell the mud flow. While the circumstances are novel, t...
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Full-text available
Speakers of a Central-Malayo-Polynesian language, the Nage of central Flores possess three terms for ‘person, people’ and ‘human being’: ata, hoga, and kita ata. The paper explores various semantic and social contexts in which the terms are differentially employed. Further discussed are lexical connections and semantic parallels with terms in other...
Article
Among the Nage of eastern Indonesia, a sizeable minority of clans maintain totemic atti- tudes towards trees and other plants whose names they share. Tree totemism is mostly expressed in taboos on burning the wood and using the timber in construction. In addition, there is the idea that all Nage people should not burn wood of the Tamarind (Nage) tr...
Article
Cet article s'intéresse aux termes liés aux «oiseaux (en général)» dans les langues indonésiennes et vérifie à quel point ces termes renvoient de façon systématique à des taxons de la catégorie forme-de-vie. Toutes les langues appartiennent au groupe malayo-polynésien central. Elles font ressortir quatre façons de désigner la catégorie générale «oi...
Article
In central Flores, local people represent obligatory exchanges of objects at funerals as signalling a cessation of relations between affinally related groups, thus contradicting a well-established local principle whereby affinal relationships transcend the lives of individual participants. Illuminating this contrast is a mortuary context that compr...
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Ethnobiologists and anthropologists have long recognized a distinction between "general purpose" ethnotaxonomies and specialized ways of classifying plants and animals, such as "symbolic classification." This article on the folk ornithology of an eastern Indonesian society distinguishes between ethnotaxonomy and symbolic classification in order to...
Article
The book examines 'wildmen', images of hairy humanlike creatures known to rural villagers and other local people in Southeast Asia and elsewhere. Sometimes described in considerable detail, the creatures are reported as still living or as having survived until recent times. The aim of the book is to discover the source of these representations and...
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The Miwok of California stand out as the sole North American society classified by Rodney Needham (1962) as practicing asymmetric prescriptive marriage alliance. This essay reviews evidence from Gifford, the sole ethnographic source on Miwok marriage, and how later commentators (including Le~vi-Strauss, Murdock, Kroeber, and Leach) employed Gifford...
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In a recent article (Forth 2005) I discussed possible implications for several sorts of anthropology of the discovery, on the eastern Indonesian island of Flores, of skeletal remains interpreted as a new species of Homo – Homo floresiensis. The discovery was, and remains, controversial, not least because the creature so classified, interpreted by t...
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Hunting tfie Wren: Transformation of Bird to Symbol. Elizabeth Atwood Lawrence. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1997. 234 pp.
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Conceiving Spirits: Birth Rituals and Contested Identities among Laujé of Indonesia. Jennifer W. Nourse. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1999. vii. 308 pp., photographs, notes, glossary, references, index.
Article
Originally a figure of folklore, the European wildman gained prominence as a literary and artistic figure in the late Middle Ages, and in this form has commonly been interpreted as exercising a definite influence on later European representations of non-western peoples, non-human primates, and pre-sapiens hominids. Comparing the European image with...
Article
Like several other Malayo-Polynesian speaking peoples, the Nage of central Flores apply a word meaning ‘taboo’ to certain undesirable behaviours by animals. Since ‘taboo’ is usually understood to incorporate the idea of prohibition and thus to refer specifically to human action, this application might appear to reflect either a polysemous usage, su...
Article
An earlier analysis of eastern Indonesian myths concerning the origin of death and the origin of temporal alternation (Forth 1992) has subsequently been informed and substantially augmented by more recent research into the folk ornithology of birds that figure as the myths' central characters. In this further exploration of the tradition, it is sho...
Article
• Details of the discovery were first published on 28 October 2004 in the journal Nature, in an article and three shorter pieces. See Mirazon Lahr and Foley 2004, Brown et al. 2004, Morwood et al. 2004, Dalton 2004. • With regard to finds of Homo erectus on Java, this position is argued at some length in a semi-popular book by Curtis et al. (2000)....
Article
Like other eastern Indonesians, the Nage of central Flores possess a rich tradition of parallelistic ritual speaking. This article introduces the Nage genre by way of an analysis of three texts. While two texts exemplify a form of military oratory, the third replicates a compact between an immigrant group and its land-granting hosts. All three text...
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A recent revival of anthropological interest in kinship has evidently extended even as f ar as such long-standing questions as the universality of 'marriage'. More particularly, Cai Hua (2001) has argued that marriage is encountered in all societies except one: the matrilineal Na or Moso of southern China, who ensure biological and social reproduct...
Article
According to the Nage of eastern Indonesia, certain animals regularly transform into animals of another kind. Similar beliefs—specified here as notions of ‘contemporary zoological transformation’—have been documented for Malays and at least one other Indonesian society, as well as for the Kalam and Rofaifo of New Guinea. Referring to interpretation...
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Contributors 1. Introduction: headhunting as practice and trope Janet Hoskins 2. Lyric, history, and allegory, or the end of headhunting ritual in upland Sulawesi Kenneth M. George 3. Headtaking and the consolidation of political power in the early Brunei state Allen R. Maxwell 4. Severed heads that germinate the state: history, politics, and headh...
Article
This essay describes the classification of birds found among the Nage people of Flores, Indonesia. Consisting partly of bird names given in free recall, the evidence indicates a classification of avifauna founded primarily on perceptual, and especially visual, criteria that is distinct from other classificatory schemes comprising ethnoornithologica...
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‘Oddly enough, in backward, antiquated Flores there was a district — keo by name — where even now it is allowed for girls to engage in intercourse any man, and the most outstanding among them — outstanding in satisfying men — are in great demand for marriage.’(Sukarno, in C. Adams 1965: 130)
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Paper 978-1-4875-2001-4 $36.95 (£20.99) Cloth 978-1-4875-0004-7 $85.00 (£47.99) eBook 978-1-4875-1006-0 $36.95 (£20.99) Why the Porcupine Is Not a Bird is a comprehensive analysis of knowledge of animals and human-animal relations among the Nage people of central Flores in Indonesia. Gregory Forth's in-depth discussion of how the Nage people concep...
Article
In a recent contribution to Oceania (59:269-79, 1989), R.A. Drake analyses a kidnapping rumour that has regularly appeared in Borneo during the last 90 or more years. According to the rumour, agents of the state require a human sacrifice, and especially a human head, to place beneath the foundation of a bridge or other modern structure that is bein...
Chapter
This collection of essays is a major contribution to the study of oral composition and ritual communication, and in particular to the use of 'parallelism' (the poetic ordering of words and phrases in alternative, duplicate form). The introduction by James J. Fox sets the topic in historical perspective, beginning with Robert Lowth's introduction of...
Article
In one area of the ritual life of an eastern Indonesian community, marked variation in practice between component groups co-exists with a common set of associated ideas. The rites in question, of which there are two, are employed when conferring a name upon a newborn child, and the ideas refer to the nature of proper names and, particularly, the re...

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Project
My new book, published by Pegasus in New York, and to appear on 3 May, reviews local reports of mystery hominoids on Flores, including reports by eyewitnesses, that closely conform to reconstructions of the fossil hominin Home floresiensis.