Exploring the narrative terrains of terror and violence in the Spice Islands

Pannell, Sandra (2003) Exploring the narrative terrains of terror and violence in the Spice Islands. In: Pannell, Sandra, (ed.) A State of Emergency: violence, society and the state in Eastern Indonesia. Northern Territory University Press, Darwin, NT, Australia, pp. 77-103.

[img]
Preview
Image (JPEG) (Book Cover) - Cover Image
Download (128Kb)
[img] PDF (Published Version) - Published Version
Restricted to Repository staff only

Abstract

This publication does not have an abstract. The first two paragraphs of the Introduction are displayed as the abstract.

The anthropologist, Clifford Geertz, once said, "every people loves its own form of violence" (1973:449). According to Geertz, the cockfight provides the Balinese with a 'reflection' upon their own form of violence and, thus, it represents" a story they tell themselves about themselves" (Geertz 1973:448). In this sense, the cockfight can be seen as a 'meta-social commentary' on 'ordinary, everyday experience'. But, as Geertz reminds us, it also functions to display the essential nature of Balinese 'social passions' - "death, masculinity, rage, pride, loss, beneficence, [and] chance" (1973:443). Geertz is at pains to point out the cockfight is only "really real" to the cocks. In his words, the cockfight "makes nothing happen" (1973:443). No one is killed, castrated or able to change their status in this hierarchical society.

In this paper, I want to return to the issue of the relationship between violence and society which Geertz so eloquently dramatised in his essay on the Balinese cockfight. I discuss this relationship against the context of the 'sectarian' fighting and civil unrest reported throughout the eastern Indonesian province of Maluku in the period 1999 - 2001. In particular, I focus upon the way narratives, in the form of popular history, media reports, anthropological writings, official government statements, and a number of local tales from around the province, produce certain 'truths' about violent events. I am interested in the way that these stories mediate the social experience of violence, and in the process, map a narrative terrain of terror. I am also interested in how the very juxtaposition of dissimilar narratives can provide us with "new perceptions of the obvious" (Taussig 1992:45). In this sense, the montage of tales which follows challenges our perception of what is violence, for they are simultaneously stories about violence and victims but are often minus a smoking gun or a discernible corpse.

Item ID: 7300
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 1-876248-81-5
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2010 01:09
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 100%
Downloads: Total: 8
Last 12 Months: 2
More Statistics

Actions (Repository Staff Only)

Item Control Page Item Control Page