Resource title

Static crosses and working spirits: anti-syncretism and agricultural animism in Catholic West Flores

Resource image

image for OpenScout resource :: Static crosses and working spirits: anti-syncretism and agricultural animism in Catholic West Flores

Resource description

In southern Manggarai, in the west of the Indonesian island of Flores, Catholicism has a long history and people assert the importance of their identity as Catholics. Nevertheless, they also continue to engage, both pragmatically and in ritual contexts, with a landscape that they experience and describe as full of spirits and energies. As an example of this, I consider a ritual to renew the fertility of a river feeding into wet-rice fields. Despite attempts by the Catholic Church to 'inculturate' the faith in Manggarai, many people adopt an attitude best described as anti-syncretism, in which they reject the possibility of a fully Catholic landscape. I argue that the resilience of this anti-syncretic spiritual landscape can be explained both by the particular nature of the Catholic mission on Flores and local adherence to a strict separation of 'religion' (agama) from the 'custom' (adat) associated with the land. Drawing on recent literature reviving the concept of animism, I suggest that Manggarai people's engagements with their spiritual landscape are a form of 'agricultural animism'. However, like all animisms, this has a specific history, including responses to shifts in spiritual potency occasioned by state-sponsored resettlement.

Resource author

Resource publisher

Resource publish date

Resource language

en

Resource content type

application/pdf

Resource resource URL

http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/26783/1/Static_Crosses_%28LSERO%29.pdf

Resource license