See/download the final papers at Taylor & Francis Online (subscription required)
See/download the pre-publication open access versions below.

SPECIAL ISSUE

MATTER(S) OF RELATIONS: TRANSFORMATION AND PRESENCE IN MELANESIAN AND AUSTRALIAN LIFE-CYCLE RITUALS
(Guest Editors: Pascale Bonnemère, James Leach and Borut Telban)

  • Pascale Bonnemère, James Leach and Borut Telban: Foreword from the Editors
  • Pascale Bonnemère: The Materiality of Relational Transformations: Propositions for Renewed Analyses of Life-cycle Rituals in Melanesia and Australia
  • Jessica De Largy Healy: ‘This Painting Becomes his Body for Life’: Transforming Relations in Yolŋu Initiation and Funeral Rituals
  • Marika Moisseeff: Setting Free the Son, Setting Free the Widow. Relational Transformation in Arrernte Life-Cycle Rituals (Australia)
  • Eric Venbrux: How the Tiwi Construct the Deceased’s Postself in Mortuary Ritual
  • Arve Sørum: Bedamini Male Initiation and Marriage as Transformation Sequences
  • Johanna Whiteley: “Feeding the Caregiver”: Internal and External Relations in a Matrilineal Life-cycle Ritual, West Gao

 


SPECIAL ISSUE

MATTER(S) OF RELATIONS: TRANSFORMATION AND PRESENCE IN MELANESIAN AND AUSTRALIAN LIFE-CYCLE RITUALS
Guest editors: Pascale Bonnemère, James Leach and Borut Telban

 

 

Pascale Bonnemère1, James Leach1 and Borut Telban2

1: Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, EHESS — CREDO, Marseille
2: Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies Research Center of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Foreword from the Editors

pages 1-2

 

 

Pascale Bonnemère

Aix-Marseille University, CNRS, EHESS — CREDO (UMR 7308), Marseille, France


The Materiality of Relational Transformations: Propositions for Renewed Analyses of Life-cycle Rituals in Melanesia and Australia

pages 3-17

This paper introduces this special issue and analyses Papua New Guinea and Australian initiation and death rituals as moments of relational transformations. Although the general argument is not completely new, it has often remained an undemonstrated statement. The paper hence focuses on the specific ways people make these changes effective and express them in their rituals. It is suggested that an invariant modus operandi is in play in which, for a relation to be transformed, its previous state must first be ritually enacted. Towards the end of the ritual, the new state of the relationship is itself publicly enacted through a manifestation of the form the relation takes after the ritual. The paper suggests that a relationship cannot be transformed in the absence of the persons concerned. The relational components need to be either directly present, such as in initiations, or mediated through objects, such as in death rituals.

 

 

Jessica De Largy Healy

CREDO (Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l’Océanie) (UMR 7308), Marseille, France;
College ofArts, Society & Education, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia;
Département de la recherche et del’enseignement, Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France


‘This Painting Becomes his Body for Life’: Transforming Relations in Yolŋu Initiation and Funeral Rituals

pages 18-33

Among the most striking images produced in north-east Arnhem Land today, are the paintings given to young boys during their first initiation ceremony (dhapi). Skilfully applied on their chest over several hours, while singing and dancing proceeds on the ceremonial grounds nearby, these body paintings act as relational matrixes which locate the initiands within a socio-cosmic web of connections. At the other end of the male ritual life-cycle, the bodies of the deceased undergo a similar process of transfiguration, as they are made to resemble the groups’ most sacred objects, seen to instantiate the powers of specific ancestral beings. In the context of these rituals, the links between clans, places and ancestral beings are expressed by being made visible on and around the body. Pragmatically composed and displayed for all to see, I suggest that Yolŋu ritual images appear as ‘matter(s) of relations’ par excellence, materialising various sets of social relationships. This paper examines the material logics behind this transfiguration process which, by turning people into ancestors, transform the relations between individuals and groups, between humans and non-human beings, and between the living and the spirits of the dead.

 

 

Marika Moisseeff

CNRS, Laboratoire d'anthropologie sociale, PSL Research University, F-75005 Paris, France

 

Setting Free the Son, Setting Free the Widow. Relational Transformation in Arrernte Life-Cycle Rituals (Australia)

pages 34-48

In Australian Aboriginal society, personal identity is an evolving process whose successive mutations derive from a person’s capacity to enter into new relationships. Both initiation rites and funerary practices act to mediate such relational transformations. Drawing on Spencer and Gillen’s material on the Arrernte, this paper establishes a parallel between the procedures put into effect to render a son autonomous from his mother in the course of male initiation, and those undertaken to emancipate a widow from her deceased husband. Both ritual operations introduce a relational distancing within a totality. This totality is composed of two individuals whose antecedent close physical intimacy could thwart these persons’ ability to become an autonomous agent. The rituals make the person capable of entering a new intimate relationship: marriage in the case of a son, and remarriage in the case of a widow.
Both procedures entail the intervention of ritual objects closely connected to an individual’s personal identity: on the one hand, the churinga a man is joined with at the end of his initiation and which allows him to exercise responsibilities in fertility rites, and on the other hand, the decaying, contaminating corpse a husband leaves behind upon his death. 

 

Eric Venbrux

Centre for Thanatology, Faculty of Philosophy, Theology and Religious Studies, Radboud University, Nijmegen, Netherlands

How the Tiwi Construct the Deceased’s Postself in Mortuary Ritual

pages 49-62

In this paper I will discuss Tiwi mortuary rites as a transformative, relational process in which the deceased’s postself is created. The deceased’s self is fashioned and manifested after death through a series of ritual practices performed by specific relatives. This approach allows me not only to stress the concern Tiwi people show about being remembered after death but also how this concern defines each participant’s ceremonial role and constitutes one of the mortuary ritual’s major aims. The deceased will be remembered as portrayed in the final rites.

 

 

Arve Sørum

Department of Social Anthropology, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Bedamini Male Initiation and Marriage as Transformation Sequences

pages 63-76

This essay focuses on how certain social relations among the Bedamini in Papua New Guinea are given their form through ritual at selected moments of the life cycle when relational transformations occur. Ritualised moments in Bedamini male initiation and symbolic bride capture are described as a dynamic agency that changes the existential conditions of persons in non-ritual reality. At those important ritual moments, the direct presence of the agents is required, while relations between them are mediated by acts, objects and moods. The effect intended is the formation, or reformation, of a relational field. Male initiation and marriage are consecutive parts of a sequence of transformations beyond its constituent moments, as initiation functions as a prerequisite to marriage.

 

 

Johanna Whiteley

Independent Scholar

“Feeding the Caregiver”: Internal and External Relations in a Matrilineal Life-cycle Ritual, West Gao

pages 77-93

Due to the rule of matriclan exogamy, a West Gao father belongs to a different matriclan to that of his wife and children. During a feast known as fangamu taego, children present their father with gifts to acknowledge his care. Acting as a pivot within the sequence of life-cycle rituals in West Gao, fangamu taego provides a ritual space in which two opposed modes of relationality are brought together. During the exchanges that constitute the feast, relationships flowing internally to each matriclan are weighed against external relationships forged between matriclans. The relational interplay elaborated during fangamu taego is predicated upon ancestrally mediated relationships of emplacement with regard to a specific territory. This comes into focus during a further set of transactions instigated by the feast involving use rights in land and its organic products. The ‘matter’ of these exchanges participate in two distinct relational modes simultaneously: they both activate pre-existing internal relationships and figure as ‘terms’ in the temporary construction of external relationships. Ultimately, fangamu taego captures an interplay between the relative permanence and impermanence of different relational configurations in the West Gao lived world.

 

See/download the final papers at Taylor & Francis Online (subscription required)
See/download the pre-publication open access versions below.

RESEARCH ARTICLES 

  • Albert Schrauwers: Houses of Worship in Central Sulawesi: Precedence, Hierarchy & Class in the Development of House Ideology
  • Robert Wessing: When the Tutelary Spirit Objected: Conflict and Possession among the Using of East Java, Indonesia
  • Katherine S. Fine-Dare: Hidden Histories of Indigeneity in Urban Andean Ecuador: Transubstantiation, Ceremony, and Intention in Quito
  • Beatriz Santamarina and Oriol Beltran: Heritage and Knowledge: Apparatus, Logic and Strategies in the Formation of Heritage

 

INVOLVING ANTHROPOLOGY 
Special Forum: Environmental and Social Justice? The Ethics of the Anthropological Gaze

  • Helen Kopnina: Nobody Likes Dichotomies (But Sometimes You Need Them)
  • Veronica Strang: Comment: Dichotomies: Yes We Need Them, But Not as Much as We Think
  • Thomas Reuter: Comment: Nature and the Self: Liberal Individualism is the Problem, not the Solution
  • Paige West: Comment: An Anthropology for ‘The Assemblage of the Now’
  • Helen Kopnina: Rejoinder: Nobody likes Dichotomies (But Sometimes we Need Them)

RESEARCH ARTICLES

Albert Schrauwers

Department of Anthropology, York University, Toronto, Canada

Houses of Worship in central Sulawesi: Precedence, Hierarchy & Class in the Development of House Ideology

pages 333-354

The social and cultural complexity of the central portion of the island of Sulawesi was well documented by missionary ethnographers at the end of the nineteenth century. Drawing on this extensive corpus of historical material, I sketch out a comparative framework for the analysis of the development of House ideology there. The six coastal kingdoms that encompassed the highlands of central Sulawesi were politically organised in Houses, a kinship strategy first proposed by Claude Lévi-Strauss. Here, I examine the factors that encouraged (or discouraged) the transformation of highland temples associated with headhunting (lobo) into the majestic Houses of aristocrats like the Tongkonan still seen in Tana Toraja. This comparative analysis points to the different political tensions created by the distinct systems of precedence, hierarchy and class in the dualistic Founders’ Cult found across the island as the source of this transformation.

 

Robert Wessing

The Hague, Netherlands


When the Tutelary Spirit Objected: Conflict and Possession among the Using of East Java, Indonesia

pages 355-375

This article discusses a case of possession in East Java that took place in the context of an important customary ritual, the seblang dance. In the course of this ritual, villagers meet their obligations to the spirits of fertility that allowed them to use the land on which their village and fields are located. Considerable stress was caused by a potential dancer who, perhaps for religious reasons, declined to dance although she had been specifically chosen by the spirits. This was an unheard of situation, and was feared to put the welfare of the community at risk. Further stress was caused by perceived interference by government officials whose rejection of an alternate dancer for aesthetic reasons caused the village’s tutelary spirit to become angry, jeopardising the presentation of the ritual and thereby the welfare of the community. After two and a half hours of negotiation, during which narratives reflecting both tradition and the current situation were constructed and reconstructed, the village head resolved the immediate problem by appealing to the spirit’s civic position, though leaving the door open for further problems in the future.

 

Katherine S. Fine-Dare

Fort Lewis College, Durango Colorado


Hidden Histories of Indigeneity in Urban Andean Ecuador: Transubstantiation, Ceremony, and Intention in Quito

pages 376-396

Students of the South American Andes have long noted the extraordinary force of objects to traverse cosmic and psychic distances, fill (or empty) the living with power that is often exhibited through public dance, and serve as ‘transactors’ in senses socioeconomic, psychic, cosmic, and geographical. In this article, I examine substances and actions involved in a modified version of Holy Communion that took place in June of 2012 in a working-class neighbourhood located at the outskirts of Quito, Ecuador, to celebrate the nativity of St. John the Baptist. I argue that this act was specifically designed to expand the celebration of the Eucharist in a way that allowed a type of transubstantiation whereby the relatives and friends of former hacienda peons were able to transform their physical bodies into something some believed had long been hidden from them – their right to live in the city as persons of their own making, ones who could legitimately adopt the identity and corresponding histories, territories, and political rights of indigenous persons.

 

Beatriz Santamarina and Oriol Beltran

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Universitat de València, València, Spain 
Department of Social Anthropology, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.

 

Heritage and Knowledge: Apparatus, Logic and Strategies in the Formation of Heritage

pages 397-414

Heritage as a category reflects diverse political positions. All heritagisation processes imply the creation of hierarchies, selection, ranking, and categorisation of what is worthy or unworthy of being heritage, and all heritage creation involves certain disciplinary processes that confer legitimacy. As a modern invention, heritage was built on two closely related cornerstones: the distinction between nature and culture and the difference between normalised knowledge and marginal knowledge. As a result, refining processes were applied which became strategies to legitimise political domination. In this paper the constituent process of heritage creation and its links to normative knowledge are analysed, illustrating the various relationships between types of knowledge in the heritagisation process with the case of the Albufera Natural Park in Spain. A particular focus is placed on the processes that affect territories and natural resources, modifying the material conditions of the local population. Beyond giving rise to a mere acceptance of imposed expert knowledge, the analysed dynamics reveal the responsiveness of the local actors, as they make use of this knowledge in the context of a counter-hegemonic discourse.

 

Involving Anthropology

Special Forum: Environmental and Social Justice? The Ethics of the Anthropological Gaze

 

 

Helen Kopnina

Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Universiteit Leiden

Nobody Likes Dichotomies (but sometimes you need them)

pages 415-429

Environmental anthropologists attempt to accommodate social justice while seeking to reconcile more-than-human relations and responsibilities towards their habitats. This article acknowledges areas of tension between local livelihoods and international conservation efforts, between indigenous peoples and wildlife, between traditional lifeways and development, and finally between different types of ethical assumptions that underlie anthropological advocacy. A number of dichotomies that are inherent in these tensions are discussed. With regard to the ecocentric/anthropocentric dichotomy, I argue that while human and environmental interests are sometimes intertwined, ecocentrism is necessary if non-humans are to be protected outside of utilitarian interests. With regard to the ‘neoliberal conservation/local communities’ dichotomy, I argue that blaming conservation for the violation of social justice depoliticises the issue of ecological injustice. Through a critical discussion of these dichotomies, this article examines the role of environmental anthropology in addressing today’s pressing environmental issues, particularly the loss of biodiversity, with respect to the ‘conservation’ of communities and that of protected areas.

 

Veronica Strang

Anthropology, University of Durham

Comment: Dichotomies: Yes We Need Them, But Not as Much as We Think

pages 430-434

Thomas Reuter

Asia Institute, University of Melbourne

Comment: Nature and the Self: Liberal Individualism is the Problem, not the Solution

pages 434-438

 

Paige West

Anthropology, Barnard College and Columbia University

Comment: An Anthropology for ‘The Assemblage of the Now’

pages 438-445

 

Helen Kopnina

Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Universiteit Leiden

Rejoinder: Nobody likes Dichotomies (But Sometimes we Need Them)

pages 445-449

 

 

See/download the final papers at Taylor & Francis Online (subscription required)
See/download the pre-publication open access versions below.

 

SPECIAL ISSUE: FOOD SOVEREIGNTY AND THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD: ETHNOGRAPHIC APPROACHES TO POLICY AND PRACTICE (Guest Editor: Graeme MacRae)

  • Graeme MacRae: Food Sovereignty and the Anthropology of Food: Ethnographic Approaches to Policy and Practice
  • Jacqueline A. C. Vel, John F. Mccarthy And Zahari Zen: The Conflicted Nature of Food Security Policy: Balancing Rice, Sugar and Palm Oil in Indonesia
  • Ramesh Sunam and Jagannath Adhikari: How does Transnational Labour Migration Shape Food Security and Food Sovereignty? Insights from Nepal
  • Graeme MacRae: Himalayan Agricultures, Ecologies and Local Food Sovereignties
  • Wakako Takeda, Cathy Banwell and Jane Dixon: Advancing Food Sovereignty or Nostalgia: The Construction of Japanese Diets in the National Shokuiku Policy
  • Isa Ritchie: Food Sovereignty in Whaingaroa: Perspectives of Food Providers in a Small, Coastal New Zealand Township

 

REGULAR ARTICLES: Involving Anthropology

  • Tim Ingold: A Naturalist Abroad in The Museum of Ontology: Philippe Descola’s Beyond Nature and Culture
  • Philippe Descola: Biolatry: A Surrender of Understanding (Response to Ingold's A Naturalist Abroad in the Museum of Ontology)
  • Tim Ingold: Rejoinder to Descola’s Biolatry: A Surrender of Understanding

See/download the final papers at Taylor & Francis Online (subscription required)
See/download the pre-publication open access versions below.

  • Dirk J. Steenbergen & Leontine E. Visser: Caught Between Mediation and Local Dependence: Understanding the Role of Non-government Organisations in Co-management of Coastal Resources in Eastern Indonesia
  • C. Banwell, M. Kelly, J. Dixon, S-A. Seubsman & A. Sleigh: Trust: The Missing Dimension in the Food Retail Transition in Thailand
  • Jared Mackley-Crump: From Private Performance to the Public Stage: Reconsidering ‘Staged Authenticity’ and ‘Traditional’ Performances at the Pasifika Festival
  • Monika Winarnita: The Not-so-gentle Makassarese Fan Dance: Misperformance Challenging Indonesian-Australian Transnational Femininity