Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2005

Department

Anthropology

Abstract

In 1953, Alastair Morrison, then acting District Officer for the Bara, traveled to the Kelabit Highlands along with his wife, photographer Hedda Morrison, and ever changing entourage of 'coolie" porters and guides. This journey was part of his regular responsibilities as a District Officer. During such tours, Morrison surveyed longhouse communities and collected information about the local population and spoke to people about government policies, school fees, taxes, the registering of guns, and often sought to resolve local disputes. Such journeys were summarized in formal reports. However, Morrison also kept travel notebooks, which he later used to write his memoir, which summarized the highlights of his life in Sarawak (Morrison 1993). These handwritten travel notebooks from his journeys are preserved, along with his wife's photographs, in the Kroch Rare Book and Manuscript Collection at Cornell University. This article is based on a close reading of Morrison's Kelabit notebooks, where he recorded his daily thoughts during a one month trip on food through the Kelabit Highlands in 1953. Whereas Morrison's published memoir (1993: 86-88) summaries in just over two pages the main issues encountered on the journey, the original notebooks provide much additional information.

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