The Ethnoarchaeology of Traditional Feasting in Tribal Southeast Asia

Resource type
Date created
Author: Adams, Ron
Author: Clarke, Mike
The purpose of this archive is to allow the field data that I and my students collected in Southeast Asia to be made available to future researchers. From 1994 until 2001, I and two graduate students conducted ethnoarchaeological field research among a number of traditional tribal groups in Southeast Asia. Our goal was to investigate traditional feasting in these societies and to relate feasting behavior to practical benefits that hosts expected to derive from holding expensive feasts. Results of this research have been published in a number of journal articles, book chapters, and theses. However, there is additional detail in the field notes that I would like to make available to future researchers since this represents unique research in the world and socioeconomic conditions in Southeast Asian traditional societies are rapidly changing due to world economic, political, and religious impacts. The field notes are hand written. This data base is augmented by extensive photographic documentation which is available at the SFU Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology.

The specific areas involved in this research were located in Northwest Thailand in the Provinces of Chiang Rai (near the Burmese border) and Chiang Mai. The major villages where work was undertaken were the Akha villages of Mae Salep and Sam Song in Chiang Rai. In addition, exploratory work was carried out in Laos and Vietnam, especially among the Ta Oi and Rhadé ethnic groups in the Central Highlands. More intensive research was carried out in the Torajan Highlands in Sulawesi, especially at the Torajan village of Kanan. Further intensive work was carried out in West Sumba in Indonesia.

The field data collected by myself and my students constitutes a unique body of data which may have great utility for future researchers. This research project focused on traditional tribal villages in Southeast Asia. To begin with, the ethnographic studies of such groups in this region are relatively limited. In addition, there are very few studies of traditional feasting and none that try to understand the practical benefits of hosting feasts. Finally, this study conducted a systematic survey of households within each study village to obtain information on each family's participation in feasting and to record their observable material items. To access this data, please contact
Collection period
1990 to 2005
Member of collection