The Empty Seashell

Witchcraft and Doubt on an Indonesian Island

Author: Nils Bubandt

Publisher: Cornell University Press

ISBN: 0801471966

Category: Social Science

Page: 320

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The Empty Seashell explores what it is like to live in a world where cannibal witches are undeniably real, yet too ephemeral and contradictory to be an object of belief. In a book based on more than three years of fieldwork between 1991 and 2011, Nils Bubandt argues that cannibal witches for people in the coastal, and predominantly Christian, community of Buli in the Indonesian province of North Maluku are both corporeally real and fundamentally unknowable. Witches (known as gua in the Buli language or as suanggi in regional Malay) appear to be ordinary humans but sometimes, especially at night, they take other forms and attack people in order to kill them and eat their livers. They are seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time. The reality of gua, therefore, can never be pinned down. The title of the book comes from the empty nautilus shells that regularly drift ashore around Buli village. Convention has it that if you find a live nautilus, you are a gua. Like the empty shells, witchcraft always seems to recede from experience. Bubandt begins the book by recounting his own confusion and frustration in coming to terms with the contradictory and inaccessible nature of witchcraft realities in Buli. A detailed ethnography of the encompassing inaccessibility of Buli witchcraft leads him to the conclusion that much of the anthropological literature, which views witchcraft as a system of beliefs with genuine explanatory power, is off the mark. Witchcraft for the Buli people doesn’t explain anything. In fact, it does the opposite: it confuses, obfuscates, and frustrates. Drawing upon Jacques Derrida’s concept of aporia—an interminable experience that remains continuously in doubt—Bubandt suggests the need to take seriously people’s experiential and epistemological doubts about witchcraft, and outlines, by extension, a novel way of thinking about witchcraft and its relation to modernity.
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Feelings at the Margins

Dealing with Violence, Stigma and Isolation in Indonesia

Author: Thomas Stodulka,Birgitt Röttger-Rössler

Publisher: Campus Verlag

ISBN: 3593500051

Category: Social Science

Page: 234

View: 7109

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This book integrates social anthropological, political, and historical perspectives on the emotional impact of marginalization, stigmatization and violence in present-day Indonesia. The authors' combined focus on regional particularities and universal dimensions of experiencing and dealing with social, economic and psychological adversities targets scholars who share regional interest in the archipelago and researchers concerned with theoretical aspects of the interplay between power asymmetries, agency, emotion and culture.
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Magic: The Basics

Author: Michael D. Bailey

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1317610660

Category: History

Page: 184

View: 1196

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Magic: The Basics is a concise and engaging introduction to magic in world history and contemporary societies. Presenting magic as a global phenomenon which has manifested in all human cultures, this book takes a thematic approach which explores the historical, social, and cultural aspects of magic. Key features include: attempts to define magic either in universal or more particular terms, and to contrast it with other broad and potentially fluid categories such as religion and science; an examination of different forms of magical practice and the purposes for which magic has been used; debates about magic’s effectiveness, its reality, and its morality; an exploration of magic’s association with certain social factors, such as gender, ethnicity and education, among others. Offering a global perspective of magic from antiquity through to the modern era and including a glossary of key terms, suggestions for further reading and case studies throughout, Magic: The Basics is essential reading for anyone seeking to learn more about the academic study of magic.
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Cultures of Witchcraft in Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present

Author: Jonathan Barry,Owen Davies,Cornelie Usborne

Publisher: Springer

ISBN: 3319637843

Category: History

Page: 283

View: 7307

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This volume is a collection based on the contributions to witchcraft studies of Willem de Blécourt, to whom it is dedicated, and who provides the opening chapter, setting out a methodological and conceptual agenda for the study of cultures of witchcraft (broadly defined) in Europe since the Middle Ages. It includes contributions from historians, anthropologists, literary scholars and folklorists who have collaborated closely with De Blécourt. Essays pick up some or all of the themes and approaches he pioneered, and apply them to cases which range in time and space across all the main regions of Europe since the thirteenth century until the present day. While some draw heavily on texts, others on archival sources, and others on field research, they all share a commitment to reconstructing the meaning and lived experience of witchcraft (and its related phenomena) to Europeans at all levels, respecting the many varieties and ambiguities in such meanings and experiences and resisting attempts to reduce them to master narratives or simple causal models. The chapter 'News from the Invisible World: The Publishing History of Tales of the Supernatural c.1660-1832' is available open access under a CC BY 4.0 license at link.springer.com.
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Democracy, Corruption and the Politics of Spirits in Contemporary Indonesia

Author: Nils Bubandt

Publisher: Routledge

ISBN: 1317682513

Category: Political Science

Page: 162

View: 1295

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Indonesia has been an electoral democracy for more than a decade, and yet the political landscape of the world’s third-largest democracy is as complex and enigmatic as ever. The country has achieved a successful transition to democracy and yet Indonesian democracy continues to be flawed, illiberal, and predatory. This book suggests that this and other paradoxes of democracy in Indonesia often assume occult forms in the Indonesian political imagination, and that the spirit-like character of democracy and corruption traverses into the national media and the political elite. Through a series of biographical accounts of political entrepreneurs, all of whom employ spirits in various, but always highly contested, ways, the book seeks to provide a portrait of Indonesia’s contradictory democracy, contending that the contradictions that haunt democracy in Indonesia also infect democracy globally. Exploring the intimate ways in which the world of politics and the world of spirits are entangled, it argues that Indonesia’s seemingly peculiar problems with democracy and spirits in fact reflect a set of contradictions within democracy itself. Engaging with recent attempts to look at contemporary politics through the lens of the occult, Democracy, Corruption and the Politics of Spirits in Contemporary Indonesia will be of interest to academics in the fields of Asian Studies, Anthropology and Political Science and relevant for the study of Indonesian politics and for debates about democracy in Asia and beyond.
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