Battle of Cosmologies

The Catholic Church, Adat, and ‘Inculturation’ among Northern Lio, Indonesia

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  • 1 University of Oslo s.l.howell@sai.uio.no
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Abstract

Based on ethnography from Lio, Indonesia, I explore effects on values, categories, and practices that followed the introduction of Catholicism to the area. Hierarchy is treated both as a model of value, conveyed through asymmetrical relations, and as a system of social organization. Hierarchy is employed as a way to order elements of value, to include the social-political sphere of stratification, and as a conceptual tool to analyze the relationship between adat (cosmology) and the Catholic Church. In adat, hierarchical relations constitute a means of social and ritual organization and practice in which the whole is considered superior to the individual, while Catholicism is based on an ideology of egalitarianism. Unlike adat, which pervades every aspect of life, the Catholic religion in Lioland occupies only a delineated niche of religion.

Contributor Notes

Signe Howell is Professor Emeritus of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo. Her fieldwork with the northern Lio on the island of Flores, Indonesia, began in 1984. Her focus has been on the significance of the cosmogenic past in the constitution of social, political, and religious life. Her many articles on the Lio include “Of Persons and Things: Exchange and Valuables among the Lio of Eastern Indonesia” (Man, 1986) and “Nesting, Eclipsing, and Hierarchy: Processes of Gendered Values among Lio” (Social Anthropology, 2002). She is the editor of For the Sake of Our Future: Sacrificing in Eastern Indonesia (1996). Other publications include The Kinning of Foreigners: Transnational Adoption in a Global Perspective (2006) and Society and Cosmos: Chewong of Peninsular Malaysia (1989). She has edited Returns to the Field: Multitemporal Research and Contemporary Anthropology (2013, with Aud Talle).

Social Analysis

The International Journal of Anthropology

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