cover of book

The Forest of Taboos: Morality, Hunting, and Identity among the Huaulu of the Moluccas
by Valerio Valeri
University of Wisconsin Press, 2000
Cloth: 978-0-299-16210-8 | Paper: 978-0-299-16214-6
Library of Congress Classification DS646.66.H82V35 1999
Dewey Decimal Classification 306.0899922


The Forest of Taboos may be considered among the most important books ever written by an anthropologist. Valeri writes superbly, and this book makes a fundamental contribution to one of the most central lines of thought in twentieth-century anthropology. He shows that taboo is finally comprehensible.”—John Stephen Lansing, University of Michigan
The Forest of Taboos is no conventional ethnography, more an extended meditative essay on its subject, erudite, rich in ideas and data, wide-ranging in its theoretical inspiration, and self-consciously literary in form. It is a fitting memorial to an author whose life was so tragically cut short.”—Roy Ellen, University of Kent at Canterbury

This eloquent and profound book, completed by Valerio Valeri shortly before his death in 1998, contends that the ambivalence felt by all humans about sex, death, and eating other animals can be explained by a set of coordinated principles that are expressed in taboos. In elegant prose, Valeri evokes the world of the Huaulu, forest hunters of Indonesia. The hidden attractions of the animal world, which invades the human world in perilous ways, he shows, also delineate that which the Huaulu regard as most human about themselves.

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