Haunted Houses and Ghostly Encounters: Ethnography and Animism in East Timor, 1860–1975

Hardback: $68.00
ISBN-13: 9780824878672
Published: April 2019

Additional Information

352 pages | 21 b&w illustrations, 4 maps
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  • About the Book
  • Haunted Houses and Ghostly Encounters: Ethnography and Animism in East Timor, 1860–1975 presents a history of Western ethnography of animism in East Timor during the Portuguese period. The book consists of ten chapters, each one a narrative of the work and experience of a particular ethnographer. Part One deals with colonial ethnography and Part Two with professional anthropology. Covering a selection of seminal nineteenth- and twentieth-century ethnographies, the author explores the relationship between spiritual beliefs, colonial administration, ethnographic interests, and fieldwork experience. It is argued that the presence of outsiders precipitated a new “transformative animism” as colonial control over Portuguese Timor was consolidated. This came about because increasingly powerful outsiders posed threats and offered rewards to the Timorese just as the powerful ancestor spirits had long done; consequently, the Timorese ritualized their dealings with outsiders following their established model for appealing to spirits. Bringing colonial and professional ethnography into the one frame of reference, it is shown that ethnographers of both types not only bore witness to these processes of transformative animism, they also exemplified them. The book presents an original synthesis of East Timor’s history, culture, and anthropology.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Christopher J. Shepherd, Author

      Christopher J. Shepherd researches the indigenous populations of Peru and East Timor and their encounter with Western science, development and, now, colonialism and ethnography.