- About the Author
In 1985, Dr Nigel Barley, then senior anthropologist at The British Museum, taught himself Indonesian and set off for the relatively unknown Indonesian island of Sulawesi. Here he hoped to find unsullied cultures to study and unspoilt natives to investigate. Barley soon found plenty to wonder at and plenty to admire among the Toraja, a vastly interesting people whose culture includes headhunting, transvestite priests and the massacre of buffalo. In witty and finely crafted prose, Barley offers fascinating insight into the people of Sulawesi and their lifestyles, and he recounts hilarious tales of the many memorable characters he meets there, not least the four Torajan woodcarvers the author invites back to London to construct an Indonesian rice barn in The British Museum. This quartet of Indonesian Marx Brothers soon discover the joys of pornographic films and the London Zoo, although they never get to grips with turning off bathroom taps.
Nigel Barley was born in Kingston upon Thames in 1947. He gained his bachelor's degree in modern languages at Cambridge University, and his doctorate in social anthropology at Oxford University. He worked for some years as an academic at London University and then served from 1980 to 2003 as an assistant keeper of Ethnography at the British Museum.
Barley's first travel book, The Innocent Anthropologist (1983), gave a popular account of anthropological fieldwork among the Dowayo people of Cameroon. Barley then worked as an anthropologist in Indonesia. His first book based on his time there was the humorous Not a Hazardous Sport (1989) describing his anthropological experiences in Tana Toraja in the mountains of central Sulawesi.
Barley has written on many other subjects including Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, and Sir James Brooke, the "white rajah" of Sarawak. He has been twice nominated for the Travelex Writer of the Year Award. In 2002, he won the Foreign Press Association prize for travel writing.
Cover Type: Paperback
Page Count: 240
Year Published: 2011