The Potent Dead: Ancestors, Saints and Heroes in Contemporary Indonesia

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Hardback: $36.00 $3.00
ISBN-13: 9780824825553
Published: March 2002

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269 pages
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  • About the Book
  • The dead are potent and omnipresent in modern Indonesia. Presidents and peasants alike meditate before sacred graves to exploit the power they confer, and mediums do good business curing the sick by interpreting the wishes of deceased forebears. Among non-Muslims there are ritual reburials of the bones of the dead in monuments both magnificent and modest.

    This is the first book to assess the indigenous systems of belief in the spirits of ancestors. A unique team of anthropologists, historians, and literary scholars from Europe, Australia, and North America demonstrate the continuing importance of the potent dead for understanding contemporary Indonesia. At the same time, they help us understand historic processes of conversion to Islam and Christianity by examining the continuing interactions of the spirit world with formal religion.

    The Potent Dead is a collection of studies by leading scholars of Indonesian culture, history, and anthropology that examines the death practices and rituals of tribal groups in Indonesia. It covers an important area of cultural and social history in Indonesia, with pieces linking the death practices of so-called tribal groups with historical changes in the country, from on-going changes in Islam to the roles of forms of modernity.

    Contributors: Henri Chambert-Loir, Elizabeth Coville, James Fox, Danielle Geirnaert, Rodolfo Giambelli, Claude Guillot, Christian Pelras, George Quinn, Anthony Reid, Minako Sakai, Anne Schiller, Bernard Sellato, Klaus Shreiner.For sale in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand by NUS Press (Singapore)