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The Rungus are a people of Sabah, Malaysia. It is useful to divide Rungus history into three periods: the pre-British period; the period of British colonialism; and the period of post-colonialism. The pre-British period lasted up until the end of the 19th century. In the second period there were two phases of British colonialism. In the first phase the British North Borneo Company governed the area, and this lasted up until World War II. Following the occupation of the Japanese during the war, North Borneo was again governed by the British, but this time as a colony under the jurisdiction of the colonial office. This lasted up until the formation of Malaysia in 1963, when the Colony of North Borneo was incorporated into Malaysia as the State of Sabah, and the post-colonial period began.

Accounts we collected of the pre-British period indicate that among the Rungus there was considerable fear of attack and looting of villages by other ethnic groups.1 Each Rungus village had a champion, who fought attackers and in turn went to villages of distant ethnic groups to kill their champions. Headhunting was based on obtaining the head of the opposing champion and was not a prominent feature of Rungus society or its religion. This type of warfare appears to have ceased by the time of the British arrival. However, the sacrifice of human captives purchased from coastal Muslim groups for the purpose of obtaining village fertility was still practiced up until World War I or shortly afterwards. Also during the Pre-British period the accounts we have collected indicate that there was always the fear that the customary law would be upset by aggressive, powerful men who would take the law into their own hands.

Our first period of research among the Rungus in 1959-60 and 1961-63 took place during the second phase of British colonialism. At that time the Rungus modal personality can be characterized as being intropunitive, which is frequently found with peoples under colonial rule where the fear of the strong external sanctions of the colonial power inhibits the expression of aggressive acts.

We were not permitted by the Sabah government to continue our research until the summer of 1986, which was well into the post-colonial period. Then in 1987 we worked with two informants brought to the United States. In the summer of 1990 we again returned to the field.

By the time we were able to continue our research in 1986 the internal controls of Rungus culture had broken down. Most of the Rungus had become Christian by then, and their fear of supernatural sanctions from localized spirits, wandering spirits, and other deities no longer existed. As L. W. R. Appell in this volume has pointed out, the fear of illicit sexual behavior was originally founded on a variety of religious sanctions. However, during the period of post-colonialism these religious sanctions were generally superseded by Christian beliefs. Christianity, it is believed, protects the individual from malevolent or angered spirits and deities. Also during the British colonial period there were supernatural sanctions against aggressive behavior within the village. Again these have been eroded by Christianity.

It is important to note that some of our data on sexual behavior and aggression come from this period of post-colonialism where both the drives of sex and aggression are under less traditional control than previously. Thus, during our original field work in the British colonial period it was exceedingly difficult to get data on sexual behavior because of religious sanctions and what was considered to be proper behavior. Rungus at that time were very reserved about talking about sexual matters (see L. R. W. Appell in this volume). And it wasn't until our field work in the post-colonial period that we began to get data in depth. While the Rungus still are reserved about discussing sexual matters, with the erosion of traditional sanctions the etiquette of talking about such matters has also loosened.

Consequently, in the analysis of our data we have had to be constantly alert to the possibility that some of our data reflect assessments colored by social change.

However, by the end of 1987, after almost four years of working with a variety of Rungus informants, we were certain enough of our data to conclude in an earlier version of this manuscript that the Rungus both conceptually and behaviorally did not have forced intercourse and that sex and aggression were highly individuated in Rungus society. In 1987 we elicited a story that indicated some sexual violence, but we thought it was a myth or legend. Nevertheless, this sowed a seed of doubt so that when we returned to the field in 1990 we interviewed explicitly on the theme of sex and aggression, and as a result I have had to radically revise the preliminary manuscript. The Rungus do have the concept of forced intercourse, although we were unable to collect any clear-cut jural case material of this. And women deny that it ever could happen, as they always maintain the right to refuse any attempts at intercourse.

I include this cautionary tale to illustrate that ethnography is a difficult profession, full of many pitfalls, but most importantly, significant and reliable conclusions on many topics cannot be reached on the basis of a year or two in the field.

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