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Laughing when you shouldn't Being "good" among the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia

Rudge, A; (2019) Laughing when you shouldn't Being "good" among the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia. American Ethnologist , 46 (3) pp. 290-301. 10.1111/amet.12826. Green open access

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Abstract

Batek people describe their many laughter taboos with utmost seriousness, and in ethical terms of good and bad. Despite this, people often get it wrong—sometimes laughing all the more when the taboos forbid it. Because laughter can be ambiguous and impossible to control, being wrong can be accepted without the need for discussion or reflection. People thus act autonomously while holding deeply shared ethical orientations. Here, ethics can be both culturally predefined and shaped by individuals, as when it comes to laughter people draw on individual and shared concerns in an ad hoc, flexible manner. Laughter's tangled contradictions thus demonstrate that people's understandings of being “good” are mutually implicated with their understandings of what it means to be a person in relation to others.

Type: Article
Title: Laughing when you shouldn't Being "good" among the Batek of Peninsular Malaysia
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/amet.12826
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/amet.12826
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: laughter, egalitarianism, taboo, ethics, hunter‐gatherers, Batek, Malaysia, Southeast Asia
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10078697
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