By James C. Scott
This booklet examines many of the "everyday" methods peasants may perhaps withstand their oppressors. in particular, the writer studied a small Malaysian peasant village within the overdue Seventies. This electronic variation was once derived from ACLS Humanities E-Book's (http://www.humanitiesebook.org) on-line model of an identical name.
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Extra info for Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance
Here and elsewhere in the text, when it seems important or where reasonable people might differ on the translation, I have included the original Malay in the footnotes. A brief glossary of local Kedah dialect terms that may be unfamiliar to speakers of standard, urban Malay is also provided in appendix D. three. Papakedana. four. Long, rectangular "shingles" stitched together from the stems and leaves of the nipah palm, which constitute the roofs and occasionally the walls of poor houses. Page 3 but only Kamil got the lumber, Rokiah calls Razak an "old liar" and says he would sell his own children. She swears she will never buy anything from him again unless she takes delivery first. As we mounted the ladder to Hamzah's house, I realized that this was the first time I had actually entered his family's oneroom living and sleeping quarters. I never did enter Razak's house or the houses of six of the other poorest families in the village. They chose instead always to receive me outside, where we squatted or sat on simple benches. We remained outside because they were embarrassed about the condition of their houses and because actually entering the house would imply a level of hospitality (coffee, biscuits) that would strain their meager resources. When possible, I made an effort to meet on neutral grounds—in the rice fields, on the path— or perhaps in one of the two small shops in the village or at the twiceweekly nearby market, where I could legitimately play host. For the rich people of the village the problem never arose; they never went to the homes of the poor. Visiting, except between equals, was always done up the status ladder in the village, and particularly so during the ritual visits following the end of the Moslem fasting month. 5 In fact, the pattern of visits served to define the village status hierarchy. This pattern was broken significantly only in the case of grave illness or death in a poor household, when the normal rules of hospitality were suspended out of respect for a more universal human drama. Thus it was that the death of Maznah (Razak's daughter) had opened Hamzah's house to me and to many others. She was lying on a tiny mattress surrounded by mosquito netting strung from the rafters. Her body was wrapped in a new white cloth, and her face was barely visible beneath a lace shawl of the kind women wear for prayer. Beside the netting was incense and a tin plate. Each new visitor would, after lifting the netting to look at the child, place money on the plate: as little as 50¢, or as much as M$2. The contributions to funeral expenses, known as "lightening" or "instant donations,"6 were especially necessary in this case since neither Razak nor many of the other very poor villagers subscribed to a death benefit society that ''insures" for funeral expenses. The money on the plate at the end of the day would provide for at least the minimal decencies. There were perhaps twentyfive villagers, mostly women, sitting on the floor of the bare room talking quietly in small groups.