Jerome Rousseau


B. Sc. (Anthropology) Université de Montréal, 1968
M.A. (Anthropology) Université de Montréal, 1969
Ph.D. (Anthropology) University of Cambridge, 1974

Cécile Rousseau, MD

Stephen Leacock Building, Room 812
855 Sherbrooke Street West
Montreal, Quebec, H3A 2T7

Tel.: 514-398-8957
Fax: 514-398-7476
E-Mail: jerome.rousseau [at] (Jérôme Rousseau)

Office Hours

Wednesday: 15:30-16:30

Research Interests


Education and degrees

  • B. Sc. (Anthropology), Université de Montréal, 1968.
  • M. A. (Anthropology), Université de Montréal, 1969 (Thesis: "L'adoption chez les Esquimaux Tununermiut").
  • Ph. D. (Anthropology), University of Cambridge, 1974 (Dissertation: "The social organization of the Baluy Kayan").

Academic employment

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, McGill University, 1973-77.
  • Associate Professor, ibid., 1977 – 1991.
  • Professor, ibid., 1991 – .
  • Directeur d'études invité, École des Hautes Études en Sciences humaines, Paris, May-June 1986.
  • Consultant, State Planning Unit, Government of Sarawak, Malaysia, to evaluate the impact resettling villages affected by the Bakun Hydro-electric project, 1994.

Main administrative and organisational duties

  • Chair, Graduate Committee, Dept. of Anthropology, 1975-77
  • Member, Editorial Board of Anthropologie et Sociétés, 1977-82, 1996-98
  • Member, Aid to Scholarly Publications Committee, Social Sciences Federation of Canada, 1978-79
  • Elected member, Appeals Board (Faculty of Arts), 1978-79
  • Elected member, Nominating Committee (Faculty of Arts), 1978-79
  • Elected member, McGill University Senate, 1980-82
  • Member, Editorial Advisory Board of Pacific Affairs, 1980-98
  • Member, Academic Panel, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, 1980-83
  • Chair, Department of Anthropology, 1981-82
  • Chair, Undergraduate Committee, Dept. of Anthropology, 1982-83
  • Chair, Academic Panel of SSHRC, 1982-83
  • Library Co-ordinator, Dept. of Anthropology, 1984-87
  • Member, Graduate Faculty Fellowships Committee, 1986
  • Chair, Social Sciences sub-committee, Graduate Faculty Fellowships, 1986
  • Chair, Committee on Research, Faculty of Arts, 1986-88
  • Chair, Undergraduate Committee, Dept. of Anthropology, 1988-89
  • Member, Graduate Committee, Dept. of Anthropology, 1989-90
  • Chair, Department of Anthropology, McGill, 1990-94
  • Member, Advisory Board of International Journal of Studies in Religion, 1990-
  • Member, Non-academic Policy Review Committee, 1993-94
  • Member, Committee on Research, Faculty of Arts, 1996-98
  • Chair, Undergraduate Committee, Dept. of Anthropology, 1998-2000
  • Member, Sous-commission 16B (Anthropologie, Sciences politiques, Sociologie, Criminologie, Etudes féministes), Commission des Universités sur les Programmes, 1998-99
  • Member, Advisory Committee for the Selection of a Dean of Arts (elected position), 1999
  • Member, Thérèse Casgrain Fellowship Selection Committee (SSHRC), 2001-03

Membership in professional associations

  • Fellow, Borneo Research Council, 1972-98.
  • Foreign Fellow, American Anthropological Association, 1976-2003.
  • Associate, Current Anthropology, 1975 –
  • Member, Canadian Asian Studies Association, 1976-98.
  • Member, Canadian Anthropology Society, 1977-98.
  • Member, Koninklijk Instituut voor Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde, Leiden, 1979 – 98.
  • Membre associé, Centre de documentation et de recherche sur l'Asie du sud-est et le monde insulindien, Paris, 1980-85.
  • Membre, équipe de recherche "Ethnologie comparative de l'Asie du sud-est", Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences sociales, 1984-90.


Undergraduate teaching

(in italics, currently taught)

  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Political Anthropology
  • Social Organization
  • Modernization in Malaysia
  • Mathematical methods in anthropology
  • Cognitive anthropology
  • Social inequality
  • Peoples and cultures of Southeast Asia
  • Social evolution
  • The anthropology of meaning (Previously Symbol systems and ideologies)

Graduate teaching

  • Anthropology of religion
  • The study of ideology
  • Sperber's Rethinking Symbolism
  • Inequality in pre-capitalist societies
  • Marxist approaches in Anthropology
  • The articulation of modes of production
  • Cognitive anthropology
  • Workshop on presenting papers
  • Culture and ethnicity
  • Contemporary anthropological theory
  • Basic concepts of the social sciences
  • Nationalism and ethnic identity
  • Social inequality in stateless societies and the first civilizations (with Bruce Trigger)
  • Gender inequality in small-scale societies
  • The evolution of chiefdoms
  • Complexity theory
  • Anthropological theory
  • The basic concepts of the social sciences
  • Thinking through basic social science concepts
  • Research methods

M.A. students directed to completion

  • Barnett Richling: Sectarian ideology and change in Amana
  • Stephen Katz: Marxism, social class and Africa: A test of relevant hypotheses
  • Donna Winslow: Cotton: A cooperative reality in Sholapur district
  • Ayse Simsek-Hekimoglu: The Greywolves: A study of a nationalist ideology in Turkey
  • Wallace Zane: Surfers of southern California: Structures of identity
  • David Macaulay: Word, sound and power: Rastafari and conceptions of musical meaning in roots reggae music
  • David Houston: Rethinking marriage: The “gay marriage” problem
  • Christine Lapierre: Shop-Floor Society: Work and Social Relations on the North Shore of Québec

Ph.D. students directed to completion

  • Nels Johnson: Uthman's shirt: Aspects of Palestinian refugee ideology in Kuwait
  • Barnett Richling: Hard times them times: An interpretative ethnohistory of Inuit and Settlers in the Hopedale district of northern Labrador, 1752-1977
  • Carole Yawney: Lions in Babylon: The Rastafarians of Jamaica as a visionary movement
  • Chester Gabriel: Communication of the spirits: Umbanda, regional cults and the dynamics of mediumistic trance in Manaus, Brazil
  • Rebecca Aiken: Montreal Chinese property ownership and occupational change
  • Thomas Dunk: It's a working man's town: The dialectic of class, ethnicity and culture in Northwestern Ontario
  • Sima Aprahamian: The inhabitants of Haouch Moussa: From stratified society through classlessness to the re-appearance of social classes
  • Aditya Kumar Dewan: Class and ethnicity in the Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh
  • Anne Brydon: Concepts of the self in contemporary Iceland
  • Ayse Simsek-Caglar: German Turks in Berlin: Migration and their quest for social mobility
  • Ross Higgins: A sense of belonging: Pre-liberation space, symbolics, and leadership in gay Montreal
  • Iik Arifin Mansurnoor (Islamic Studies): The response to social change of ulama' in Madura. (Co-chair with Charles J. Adams)
  • Csilla Dallos: Identity and opportunity: Asymmetrical household integration among the Lanoh, newly sedentary hunter-gatherers and forest collectors, Peninsular Malaysia

Research Interests

Research Interests

Social Inequality in Middle-Range Societies. To date, anthropological studies of the evolution of societies have focused primarily on either: a) the balance of equality and inequality among hunter-gathers or, b) the development of state organizations. My research is designed to fill a gap by focusing on small-scale sedentary societies, which occupy an intermediate position between hunter-gatherers and large-scale societies: hunter-gatherers do not have the need or means to achieve these features, and state societies have either modified or discarded them. Evolution is not a linear process from simplicity to complexity. On the contrary, middle-range societies demonstrate a greater diversity of social systems than either hunter-gatherers or state societies. Such diversity is particulary evident in relation to social inequality. I look at gender, kinship, age categories, hierarchy, leadership, violence within the group and warfare between groups, and the importance of group identity.

Representative Publications


Year Title
2006 Rethinking social evolution: The perspective from middle-range societies. Montreal: McGill-Queens Press. (Paperback 2007)
2002 “The Old Kayan Religion and the Bungan Religious Reform,” by Lake’ Baling, Translated and annotated by Jérôme Rousseau. Kuching: Universiti Malaysia Sarawak. Dayak Studies. Oral Literature Series.
1998 Kayan religion: Ritual life and religious reform in Central Borneo. Leiden: KITLV Press.
1990 Central Borneo: Ethnic identity and social life in a stratified society. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
1988 Central Borneo: A bibliography. Special monograph no. 5. Kuching: Sarawak Museum.
1974 The Peoples of central Borneo. J. Rousseau (ed.). Special issue of the Sarawak Museum Journal, vol. 22. Kuching: Sarawak Museum.
1970 L'adoption chez les Esquimaux Tununermiut. Québec: Centre d'Etudes Nordiques, Université Laval. Travaux divers no. 28.

Journal Articles, Chapters In Books:

Year Title
In press What are the bases of domain specificity? IN Human Expeditions: Inspired by Bruce Trigger, Stephen Chrisomalis & André Costopoulos (eds).
In press Brief encounter: Reciprocity between Inuit hunters and Martin Frobisher. Cambridge Anthropology Journal (2010)
2008 Is the notion of mode of production universally relevant? Social Evolution and History 7(2): 135-148.
2007 Ten Kenyah paintings given to the Sarawak Museum. Borneo Research Bulletin 37: 195-216 (with Jayl Langub and with the collaboration of Ding Seling and Henry Belawing).
2001 Hereditary stratification in middle-range societies. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 7: 115-129.
1996 The Bakun hydroelectric project and resettlement: A failure of planning. In Power Play: Why the Bakun hydroelectric project is damned. Kuala Lumpur: INSAN, pp. 91-104.
1995 The subject of knowledge. In The order of the text: Asceticism and violence in the interpretation of culture. G. Bibeau & E. Corin (eds). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 289-302.
1994 The Kayan. In World within: The ethnic groups of Borneo, V.T. King (ed.). Kuala Lumpur: S. Abdul Majeed, pp. 101-119. [Second printing of a 1978 paper]
1993 From shamans to priests: Towards the professionalization of religious specialists among the Kayan. In The seen and the unseen: Shamanism and spirit mediums in Borneo, R. Winzeler (ed.). Borneo Research Council Monograph Series no. 2, pp. 131-150.
1991 Gender and class in central Borneo. In Female and male in Borneo. V. Sutlive (ed.). Williamsburg, Va.: The Borneo Research Council Monograph series, vol. 1, pp. 403-413.
1989 The people of central Borneo. Sarawak Museum Journal 40(3): 7-17.
1989 Central Borneo and its relations with coastal Malay sultanates. In Outwitting the state, P. Skalník (ed.). Political Anthropology, vol. 7. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, pp. 41-50.
1987 Knowledge and sacredness. Culture 7(2): 23-29.
1987 Débat sur le concept de maison, In Charles Macdonald et al. (eds) De la hutte au palais; Sociétés "à maison" en Asie du sud-est insulaire. Paris: Ateliers de l'Equipe de recherche "Ethnologie comparative de l'Asie du Sud-est", Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, pp. 179-191.
1987 Writing blocks and how to solve them. Anthropology Newsletter 28(8): 24, 22.
1987 Kayan land tenure. Borneo Research Bulletin 19: 47-56.
1985 The ideological prerequisites of inequality. In H. Claessen, E. Smith and P. van de Velde (eds). Development and decline; The evolution of sociopolitical organization. South Hadley, Mass.: Bergin and Garvey, pp. 36-45.
1984 Review article: Four theses on the nomads of central Borneo. Borneo Research Bulletin 16: 85-95.

Kayan personal names. Sarawak Museum Journal 32: 251-272.

1983 The Research Grants Programme of SSHRC/Le Programme de bourses de recherche du CRSH. CESCE Bulletin, Autumn 1983, pp. 1-9.
1980 Ethnicity, nationalism and social classes. In Canadian Ethnology Society, Papers from the Fifth Annual Congress, J. Ryan (ed.). National Museum of Man, Mercury Series, Canadian Ethnology Service, Paper no. 62, pp. 106-107.
1980 Iban inequality.Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 136: 52-63.

Transformations religieuses dans le centre de Bornéo. Anthropologie et Sociétés 3(3): 127-140.

1979 L'organisation sociale. In Perspectives anthropologiques, L.-J. Dorais et R. Hirbour (eds). Montréal: Editions du Renouveau pédagogique, pp. 119-127.
1979 Kayan stratification. Man 14: 215-236.
1979 Stratification and chiefship: A comparison of Kwakiutl and Kayan. In Challenging Anthropology, G.A. Smith and D. Turner (eds). Toronto: McGraw-Hill, pp. 229-244.

Quel est l'objet de l'anthropologie religieuse? Recherches Amérindiennes au Québec 8: 99-111.

1978 The Kayan. In Essays on Borneo Societies, V.T. King (ed.). Hull Monographs on Southeast Asia, no. 7: 78-91. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
1978 Classe et ethnicité. Anthropologie et Sociétés 2(1): 61-69.
1978 On estates and castes. Dialectical Anthropology 3: 85-95.
1977 Kayan agriculture. Sarawak Museum Journal 25: 129-156.
1977 The Usun Apau: Development and land claims in central Borneo. Borneo Research Bulletin 9: 30-33.

Ethnic identity and social relations in central Borneo. In Pluralism in Malaysia: myth and reality, J. A. Nagata (ed.). Contributions to Asian Studies, vol. 7. Leiden: E.J. Brill, pp. 32-49.


A vocabulary of Baluy Kayan. In The Peoples of central Borneo, pp. 93-152.


The Baluy area. In The Peoples of central Borneo, pp. 17-27.

1974 Introduction to The Peoples of central Borneo, pp. 1-3.
1973 Kayan. In Peoples of the Earth, vol. 10: Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia. London: Danbury Press. Pp. 124-131.
1972 The Belaga district of Sarawak. Borneo Research Bulletin 4: 3-8.
1971 Les Indiens du Canada. Encyclopaedia Universalis, pp. 896-900.
1970 Bibliography of Borneo bibliographies. Borneo Research Bulletin 2: 35-36.

Book Reviews:

Year Title
2006 Widlok, Thomas, and Wolde Gossa Tadesse, eds, Property and equality, Vol. 1: Ritualisation, sharing, egalitarianism, Vol. 2: Encapsulation, commercialisation, discrimination. Anthropological Forum 17(1): 102-106.
2004 Helliwell, Christine, ‘Never stand alone’: A study of Borneo sociality. Anthropological Forum 14(1):89-91.
2001 Condominas, Georges (ed.) Formes extrêmes de dépendance: Contributions à l'esclavage en Asie du Sud-Est. Anthropologie et Sociétés 25(2): 177-179.
1998 Jay H. Bernstein, Spirits captured in stone: Shamanism & traditional medicine among the Taman of Borneo. Journal of Asian Studies 57: 271-272.
1997 Tan Chee Beng, Communal associations of the indigenous communities of Sarawak: A study of ethnicity and national integration. Pacific Affairs 70: 152-153.
1995 Bernard Sellato, Nomads of the Borneo rainforest; The economics, politics, and ideology of settling down. Journal of Asian Studies, pp. 636-637.
1994 Vom Roy, The migration of the Kenyah Badeng. Pacific Affairs 67: 485.
1994 Vinson H. Sutlive, Tun Jugah of Sarawak; Colonialism and Iban response. Pacific Affairs 67: 145-146.

C.W. Watson and Roy Ellen (eds)Understanding witchcraft and sorcery in Southeast Asia. Transcultural Psychiatric Research Review 31: 300-302.

1993 Gehan Wijeyewardene (ed.), Ethnic groups across national boundaries in Mainland Southeast Asia. Canadian Ethnic Studies 25(1): 105-107.
1993 James J. Fox (ed.), The heritage of traditional agriculture among the western Austronesians. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 148: 547-548.
1992 Burhan Magenda, East Kalimantan; the decline of a commercial aristocracy. Pacific Affairs 65: 605.
1989/90 Bernard Sellato, Nomades et sédentarisation à Bornéo; Histoire économique et sociale.Culture 9(1): 95-96 and Southeast Asian Review of Social Sciences 21(1): 226-227.
1989 James G. Flanagan and Steve Rayner (eds), Rules, decisions and inequality in egalitarian societies. Anthropologica 31: 266-268.
1987 Rodolphe De Koninck et Jean Nadeau (eds), Ressources, problêmes et défis de l'Asie du Sud-Est. Cahiers de Géographie du Québec 31(82): 106-107.
1987 Karl L. Hutterer, A. Terry Rambo, and George Lovelace (eds), Cultural values and human ecology in Southeast Asia. Pacific Affairs 60: 533-535.
1987 Alain Testart, Le communisme primitif; I. Economie et idéologie. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 143: 185-187.
1987 Victor T. King, The Maloh of West Kalimantan; An ethnographic study of social inequality and social change among an Indonesian Borneo people.Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 143: 183-185.
1986 Serge Bouez, Reciprocité et hiérarchie; L'alliance chez les Ho et les Santal de l'Inde. Culture 6(1): 77.

Tom Harrisson, World within; A Borneo story.Pacific Affairs 58: 564-565.

1985 Jeannine Koubi, Rambu Solo', "la fumée descend"; le culte des morts chez les Toradja du Sud.Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 141: 171-172.
1984 Harmut K. Hildebrand, Die Wildbeutergruppen Borneos. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 140: 367-368.

Alain Testart, Les chasseurs-cueilleurs ou l'origine des inégalités, Culture 3(2): 91.

1982 Hetty Nooy-Palm, The Sa'dan Toraja: a study of their social life and religion. 1: Organization, symbols and beliefs. Man 17: 377-378.
1981 P.E. de Josselin de Jong, Minangkabau and Negri Sembilan; socio-political structure in Indonesia. Man 16: 494-495.
1980 W.F. Schneeberger, Contributions to the ethnology of central Borneo (parts of Kalimantan, Sarawak and Sabah). Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 136: 525-526.
1976 André Béteille, Six Essays in Comparative Sociology. International Journal of Comparative Sociology 17(1-2): 110-111.

Unpublished Reports:

  • Discussion paper for a five-year plan. Submitted to the Social Science and Humanities Research Council on behalf of the Academic Panel, 42 pp., 1983.
  • Survey of the Anthropological Holdings of McLennan Library. Mary Mason, Rebecca Aiken and Jérôme Rousseau. 1984.
  • Research conditions in the Faculty of Arts: a crisis situation. Report of the Committee on Research, Faculty of Arts, with M. Bristol, G. Grantham and R. Schultz, 1987.
  • The Bakun project: Review of socio-economic studies and preliminary recommendations for the resettlement of the Kayan and Lahanan of the upper Balui. A report submitted to the State Planning Unit, Jabatan Ketua Menteri, Sarawak, Malaysia, 1994. 49 pp.
  • Social aspects of the Bakun hydro-electric project. Report submitted January 2000 to Comalco, a private company that decided not to invest in Sarawak on the basis of this report. 46 pp.


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