|Non-stipendiary||Peter dot Varney at uea dot ac dot uk|
In 1958 I was posted to the island of Labuan in North Borneo during Royal Air Force National Service. From there I had the opportunity to accompany an Anglican priest on a visit to Ibans who had recently moved to the interior of Brunei. The beginning of my interest in Borneo.
Ten years later I began field work in Sarawak, focussing on Anglican work with the Iban. As an Anglican priest I had ready access to longhouse communities. Two papers based on this research were published in 1968 and 1969. A further article in 2010 focussed on the changing response of missionaries to Iban understanding of afterlife beliefs.
Later work included training VSOs and others preparing to work overseas. I worked with the Africa Centre in London, assisting students to find appropriate courses of study in the UK. I have also worked as a hospital and prison chaplain.
I am a fellow of the Borneo Research Council and chairman of the Borneo Mission Association, which has supported Anglican work since 1909.
B.A. Geography, Durham 1961
Dip Theology , Birmingham 1963
A World Council of Churches studentship at the University of Ibadan, 1963-64, gave me the opportunity to live alongside students adjusting to Nigerian independence and reframing their religious identity. My research was the basis of my 1969 article in the Journal of Religion in Africa.
M.A. Social Anthropology, Durham. A study of religious life in rural Norfolk, published in 1970.
Further qualifications in Counselling at the Lincoln Clinic, and Psychological Testing at South bank University, assisted me in my work with African and other students.
Traditional Religion; Christianity; Eschatology; Anglican history
Borneo; Sarawak; Ibans; Internal Migration; Urbanisation; Identity
My work considers processes of development and change amongst the Iban of Sarawak, Malaysia.
I have taken historical and social anthropological approaches.
My regional expertise is on Borneo, with a particular focus on southern Sarawak.
My main work, so far, has been to consider the impact of Anglicanism on the traditional beliefs and practices of the Iban. The Ibans were known as headhunters and anthropologists discovered their systems of inheritance and leadership differed from other swidden cultivators. My historical studies supplement existing studies of Iban society which have largely ignored the influence of missionary activity.
I have published papers on aspects of this historical narrative. I am currently completing a book on the period from 1848 to 1968, the period of Colonial rule and the first five years of Malaysia.
My current research is on Iban internal migration and the results of urbanisation.
I am analysing interviews made in 2011 with Iban Christians in Sarawak’s capital city, Kuching. The focus is on the ways in which Iban identity is changing and developing and the hybridisation of burial rites and afterlife belief. Giving grave goods and employing traditional wailers continue in spite of Anglican proscription.
I am a research associate of the Sarawak Museum in Kuching, and a Fellow of the Borneo Research Council. I contributed to the Borneo Research Council conference in 2010 with a paper on changes in afterlife belief based on mission archives.
I would welcome contact with those with an interest in S E Asia; social and religious change; internal migration and changing identities.
The Anglican Church in Sarawak from 1848 to 1852, Sarawak Museum Journal, 16 33, 377-406.
Sabayan-Life after death in Borneo, Frontier, 11(4), 275-278.
Religion in a West African University, Journal of Religion in Africa, Vol. 2, Fasc. 1 . 1-42
Some early Iban leaders in the Anglican Church in Sarawak, Sarawak Museum Journal, 17 35, 273-293.
Religion in Rural Norfolk, A Sociological Yearbook of Religion in Britain, 3, eds David Alfred Martin and Michael Hill, London: SCM Press, 65-77.
The Anglican Church 150 Years Ago: McDougall becomes Borneo’s first bishop, Borneo Chronicle, Vol 50, No 12, 318-340 .
150 years ago: Bishop McDougall’s part in the Chinese rebellion of 1856, Borneo Chronicle, Vol 50, No 15, 26-28.
Iban Leaders in the Anglican Church in Sarawak, 1848 to 2010. Occasional Paper 6
The Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia: Singapore.
Sabayan: Iban belief about the afterlife and the Anglican mission in Sarawak 1848-1968. Sarawak Museum Journal, Vol LXVII No 88 New Series. December 2010. 1-23.
100 Years Ago: The Anglican Church during Bishop Mounsey’s Episcopate, with special reference to work amongst the Iban in the second division of Sarawak, Borneo Chronicle.
Part 1 Vol 50, No 19, 8-13 2009; Part 2 Vol 50, No 20, 14-20, 2009; Part 3 Vol 51, No 1, 29-34, 2010
Iban Christians, Anglican Mission and the Ibans of Sarawak, 1848-1968, Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia.
The Methodist Church in Sarawak and its work amongst the Iban from 1939 to 1968,
Borneo Research Council Research Bulletin, 2012
Conference Papers and Lectures
Borneo Research Council 2010
Sabayan: change, continuity and hybridisation in Iban beliefs about the afterlife following Anglican work in Sarawak during the period of Brooke and colonial rule, 1848-1968
Royal Geographical Society 2010
The social impact of Anglican missionary activity amongst the Iban in rural and urban Sarawak
Sarawak Museum 2011
Iban Burial Customs and Beliefs in Modern Kuching
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