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Julius Bautista. editor The Spirit of Things Materiality and Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia SOUTHEAST ASIA PROGRAM PUBLICATIONS Southeast Asia Program Cornell University Ithaca. New York 2012 .

electronic or mechanical. 58 introduction: Materiality in a Problematically Plural Southeast Asia fulius Bautista and Anthony Reid © 2012 Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications 1. Icon. reprinted with permission. Ruth 129 9. Art Commodity: Are Objects Still Agents in Vietnam? All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review. and Materiality in Southeast Asia Julius Bautista Studies on Southeast Asia No. Printed in the United States of America ISBN: he 978-0-87727-788-6 ISBN: pb 978-0-87727-758-3 Cover: designed by Kat Dalton Cover image: Vietnamese spirit medium in a temple from which the statues were removed during an anti-superstition campaign. The Problem with "Empty Crosses": Thinking through Materiality in Bidayuh Religious Practices Liana Clzua 111 8. including photocopying and recording. vii 1 11 Laurel Kendall. Material Religion and Ethnic Identity: Buddhist Visual Culture and the Burmanization of the Eastern Shan State Klemens Karlsson 61 5. Holy Water and Material Religion in a Pilgrimage Shrine in Malaysia Yeah Seng Gumz 79 6. A Spirit Medium as Architect: Caodaism's Visual Theology Janet Hoskins 43 4. Iconoclasm. Ithaca. no part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means. Dressing for Modern War in Old-Fashioned Magic: Traditional Protective Charms of Thailand's Forces in the Vietnam War Richard A. Anderson Anne Blackburn Thak Chaloemtiarana Tamara Loos TABLE OF CONTENTS Kaja McGowan Keith Taylor Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications 640 Stewart Avenue. and MPVs: Car Culture among Middle-Class Malays in Suburban Malaysia Johan Fischer 27 3. Devotion. Mercedes. "The Land of the Great Image" and the Test of Time: The Making of Buddha Images in Arakan (Burma/Myanmar) Alexmzdra de Mersan 95 7. Concentrating People and Endogenous Potency at the Southeast Asian Periphery: The Case of the Longan House Altar of the Bentian of indonesian Borneo Kenneth Sillander 147 . and Nguyin Thj Thu Hwmg 2.Editorial Board Benedict R. O'G. NY 14850-3857 Preface: Motion. without permission in writing from the Cornell Southeast Asia Program. or by any information storage or retrieval system. Photograph by Laurel Kendall. Vti Thf Thanh Tdm. Of Proton.

as much as it was by the central problematic that compelled it. burnings performed at one's home altars are an essential part of lifting up petitions to the ancestors and deities. when the spirits who wander through the gates of Hell are appeased by burning material objects like paper money or joss sticks throughout the seventh month of the lunar year. the regulations were consistent with the state's approach to inter-religious relations. new regulations. more significantly. Collectively. mandated town councils to provide public bins to contain all bumings. While the use of the government bins for discarding burned material has gained some acceptance. "the bigger the joss sticks. and the region itself. particularly in the context of religiously diverse states where the demands of citizenship and nationalism often place great strain on religious belief and practice. even if it means imposing penalties to mitigate potential flash points of contestation. In March 1998. Turner and Professor Lily Kong. a significant number of people still choose to disregard them. But. Europe. 14. p. Our gathering coincided with the Hungry Ghost Festival in Singapore. DEVOTION. as well as the administrative staff of the Asia Research Institute who facilitated the smooth running of the event. In Daoism." 1 More recently. AND MATERIALITY IN SOUTHEAST ASIA Sandra Cate and Leedom Lefferts 11. punishable by fines. The measures were taken in response to complaints about unsightly ash spots on public spaces. however. this ritual has become subjected to increasing governmental control. as well as to prevent fire and environmental hazards. Becoming Active/ Active Becoming: Prince Vessantara Scrolls and the Creation of a Moral Community 165 PREFACE: MOTION. the contributors spoke about the diverse ways in which materiality is crucial to the crafting of personhood and belonging. Bodies for the Gods: Image Worship in Chinese Popular Religion 197 Julius Bautista Margaret Chan 13.viii The Spirit of Things 10. Performativity. Contributors 217 The chapters in this volume are based on invited papers delivered during a conference entitled "New Directions in the Study of Material Religion in Southeast Asia. As Tong Chee Kiong and Lily Kong put it. which seeks to uphold the ideological commitment to religious co-existence. . "Religion and Modernity: Ritual Transformations and the Reconstruction of Space and Time. The Potency of Poon: Religious Sculpture. The conference featured Southeast Asianists from universities and museums in the United States. The gathering was inspired by the time and place in which it was held. and the Mahal na Senyor of Lucban 183 Cecilia De La Paz 12. the greater the lift. We acknowledge the generous assistance and participation of Professor Bryan S. After 1 Tong Chee Kiong and Lily Kong." unpublished manuscript." which was held at the National University of Singapore in August 2008.

kitchen cupboards. and displayed on car dashboards. architecture. sold. this is evident even where the vicissitudes of nationhood and religious pluralism call for the management or even restriction of the possession. replicas are not generally expected to have an exalted place in a grand altar of communal worship. While religious institutions offer formal compliance with government norms. The objects that move in "locomotive sociality" or are circulated in a "pious economy" are easily transportable. But not all religious objects can traverse physical space so freely and readily. whether individual and communal. The various contributors' concerns are quite similar to each other in that they trace the ways in which religious materiality make it possible for the faithful to negotiate the challenges of citizenship or nationhood. in turn. What had been highlighted in our gathering was not simply the nature. 2010). clay. literally) "ring fenced" in a field of competing religious discourses. Julius Bautista. infusing spaces and things with spiritual potency. however. These three permutations of motion and devotion---each of them facilitated through objects. respective original on which they are modeled. and a wide variety of kinesthetic engagements with representations of the divine. or use of religious materials. people's emotions and sensibilities are likewise placed in motion. 34--37. forming the basis for specific kinds of social relationships. Unlike the original model. Thus. for the buyer. notions of belief and peity are. this is often accompanied by a variety of calculated subaltern agencies that material things make possible in a religiously plural landscape. What kind of dynamism did immovable objects inspire and encourage.1 (2000): 29-44. where I have conducted my own ethnographic research. such as large statues or visual displays. and draw a circle of chalk or tea around ritual objects so that the deities can recognize their respective offerings. In this context. and frequency of an object's actual movement. In our group. Others may affect how the human body itself moves. and photographs of Sanskritic and folk Hindu deities are bought and sold in a frenetically dynamic marketplace. Secondly. as described by one of the panelists in the conference. however. either through the agency of the faithful or through the perception of an object's own agency. how would individual ancestors know which offering is for them if all burnt objects are "mixed up"? Many Singaporeans use their own bins to perform the burnings. This does not mean.' What is interesting is that such new and recalcitrant engagements with religious materiality have arisen in reaction to modern day. the discussion of these themes pivoted around the concept of motion. but how kinetic energies are generated in and around objects that stay put. animate bodies. This is demonstrated. These energies. It is with these kinds of agencies that the papers in this volume are concerned.viii Introduction Julius Bautista ix all. facilitates a highly individualized connection with deities and the divine. as one practitioner put it. direction. or the actual movement of an object of veneration in a social and public capacity. . "Religion and Modernity: Ritual Transformations and the Reconstruction of Space and Time." Social & Cultural Geography 1. for example. or traded? One of the most immediately striking aspects of religious objects traded in the market is the effect of mass production and multiplication on the spiritual meanings of things. spirit possession. In Cebu City. an action that. bedside tables. or bronze statues. When objects move. In Southeast Asia. in turn. is that the call for plurality actually renders religious objects more important. When objects circulate in transactory and reciprocal processes. Yet the value of the replicas is crafted in the context of a market in which the "end user" forges a personal relationship with his or her purchase. as in ritual performance. sociologist Vineeta Sinha. What we see in many cases. replicas of the Christ Child Santo Nifio-an icon that is thought to be four hundred years old-are often bought by devotees who bypass the official Church store in favor of mercantile chaos generated by the replica stalls around the Basilica-' If one looked only on the surface. commerce facilitates religious piety. conversely. religious objects influence people's movement within hegemonlc state authority. is a crucial part of the internal subjectivities of those around the object. 2 3 Tong Chee Kiong and Lily Kong. or. personal bookshelves. Many other objects are highly regarded because of their embeddedness to one location. The examples from Buddhist Laos and the Catholic Philippines stand out in demonstrating that piety is enacted by what I describe as an object's locomotive sociality. trance. What happens to people's faith in the process of the object's movement? How does the movement of religious objects provide the conditions for the enactment of religious piety? The change in the physical location of objects. faith is defined by one's being "moved" or inspired by religious materials even if those materials themselves remain static and immobile. such as in religious pilgrimages or migrations across borders. they are held close to one's body. Rather. display. What the papers in this volume collectively reiterate is that religious materials are embedded in a whole host of embodied practices that enable the faithful to negotiate the often tumultuous experience of living amidst other believers. crafted and reconfigured. of which there are three distinct permutations. motion can be thought of in terms of the actual objects that circulate in the process of commerce and exchange. legally or illegally. Aside from individual movement. in market places and what could be thought of as pious economies. static religious materials also affect the movement of collective bodies. Sheer size or weight. can preclude the object's movement from one location to the next. as they are often the means by which the distinctiveness of a particular faith is reiterated and (in this case. that relatively immobile religious materials do not have a significant impact upon the lives of the faithful. by the "awe" worshippers experience in the presence of enshrined statues or sacred architectures. impede and inhibit? Certain motionless objects. in the process of ritual or procession. The first concerns the locomotion of objects themselves. The spiritual potency that is ascribed to these relatively large or heavy religious things is not a function of their capacity to change location. it is the way they inspire a kinetic energy in those around them that is significant. as well as the spirits themselves. This was the third type of motion that we considered. placed in one's bag. often evoking the larger political and cultural milieu in which the faithful in Southeast Asia are entwined. Rather. are thought to motivate the energies of the deities and spirits around them. in turn. spaces. and the overarching authorities that seek to regulate the conditions under which they do so. one might assume that multitudes of cheaply produced images can hardly match the value of each. for example. many painted and sculpted stone. pp. "Figuring Catholicism: An Ethnography of the Smzto Nilio de Cebu (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press. How does the traffic in and of objects exert an impact upon their spiritual value and efficacy? Do the objects diminish in potency or significance when they are bought. In this respect. paintings. and computer desks-places that are typically associated with the pursuit of life's toils. In Singapore. state-driven managerialism.

Such acts of iconoclasm were vehemently defended as expressions of the need to uphold a distinctive Islamic religious identity. . FUI) protested outside the district government office in Purwakarta. students wielding hammers and blunt objects defied riot police and inflicted significant damage to the statue. Julius Bautista Singapore. September 24. getting into the spirit of things by considering materiality as a meaningful heuristic in the understanding of faith communities. 2011. and Tami Koestomo. by September 2011. "Letter: Wayang's Destruction. and maintenance of religious belief in Southeast Asia. Set Alight Wayang Statues in Purwakarta.x Julius Bautista and images-provided the canvas on which we depicted how the challenge of religious diversity is being met in different places in Southeast Asia. who embodies the virtues of strength and loyalty. August 7. prompting many around Indonesia to call for the government to take action against the "Taliban-minded" perpetrators-' In the chapters that follow. September 18. The vibrant. pluralism in the region ensures that 1 Antara News Agency. A little over one year later. They demanded that the district head immediately demolish a huge statue of Bima." The Jakarta Post Readers Forttm. if contested." and that only "Islamic figures" should be erected in Purwakarta's public spaces. we discuss the various ways in which materiality is crucial to the very formation. 2010. and who has long been a central figure in Javanese and Sundanese puppet theater. Bima is one of the heroic brothers of the Indian epic Mahabharata. "Indonesian Muslim Clerics in West Java Protest 'Un-Islamic' Bima Statue. which had been endangered even in what the protestors held to be the "Santri City" of Purwakarta. Rallied by hardline clerics. and also as a testament to Java's diverse cultural and religious heritage. 2 "Hardliners Vandalize. Their spokesman declared that Bima only exists in people's "superstitious beliefs. three other Wayang statues had been burned or vandalized by further attacks. that Bima had a negative impact on the public's economic and religious interests." The Jakarta Globe." The Jaknrta Post.' The protesters insisted. The Purwakarta Regent had the statue erected there to inspire these positive values in the citizenry. which had just been erected near the highway between Bandung and Jakarta. September 2011 INTRODUCTION: MATERIALITY IN A PROBLEMATICALLY PLURAL SOUTHEAST ASIA Julius Bautista and Anthony Reid Tensions ran high in August 2010 when a group of Indonesian clerics under the banner of the Indonesia Ulema Forum (Forum Ulema Indonesia. however. This constituted our attempt to encourage a thinking betjond belief in understanding religious traditions. West Java. 2011. enactment.

Whether Muslims and Christians are protecting or building one another's sacred places or burning them."' An analysis of the terrain of religious pluralism. in contrast with the relative uniformity that strong states. these high-rainfall areas have permitted the survival of stateless. 4 J. in De Vierde Schipvaart der Nederlanders 1zaar Oost-llzdie 01zder ]acob Wilkells van Neck (1599-1604). This work is an endeavor to consider the social. particularly in the material realm.' This has been a fertile field in which a host of religious traditions has taken root. 112. Webb Keane. The accessibility of alternative religious views. and ethical possibilities. the more so after the Europeans added their churches to the mix of temples. and of publicly exercising their several ways of worship. so. and the way beliefs and actions are. it is our view that they are also tempered and even subverted by the many instances in which religious materials manifest the creative and edifying engagement with the divine world. was and is peculiarly resistant to homogenizing political structures of any kind. but they will always involve material forms. print media. p. Indonesia. Just as materiality was a testament to the Southeast Asian acceptance of diversity. In the Siamese capital of Ayutthaya. "Making Majority. it is in material things that the plural is realized. flourish on the plains. and in Malaysia under Dr. amulets.' It is often in the material realm that this act of defense is most prominently deployed." Economy and Society 39. objects. has long historical roots in Southeast Asia." Sociology of Religioll 57A (1996): 409. while helping to resolve some internal tensions. times. therefore. 3 Jose Casanova. Vo[. This state patronage of Islam. and the "profound religious heterogeneity" of Indonesia. for example. . multi-ethnic environments of Southeast Asia. political. The phrase resonates with a tone of intellectual inquiry. 223. mosques. Mahathir. and Chinese each had distinct religious systems. as well as modem cosmopolitan cities. Aside from statues of deities. and their association with ethno-nationalism. has served to stress the boundaries of Islam and what all Muslims must have in common. Tlze Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist Histo1y of Uplalld Southeast Asia (New Haven. there are a host of ephemeral objects of offering.2 Julius Bautista and Anthony Reid materiality is demonstrated in a myriad of ways. A. even while peasant rice-farmers. Europe. shaped by the interactions with things. de Booy (The Hague: Nijhoff for Linschoten-Vereeniging. and buildings in the region-all of which reflect the everyday engagement with the divine. public lives that are lived in and through the believer's engagement with tangible things and spaces. while even among the last-named they were "not of one mind but of various sects. that they have public lives and enter into ongoing chains of causes and consequences. 156. cultures. The teaching of Islam in state schools produced a lowest common denominator version of belief.. who has pointed out that "Religions may not always demand beliefs. has it been the medium through which tendencies towards exclusivisrn has been given vociferous expression. 2009). More than elsewhere in Eurasia. sacred sites. and belief patterns continuing to coexist in close proximity. In queen-ruled Patani. A New Historical Relation of the Kilzgdom of Siam (Kuala Lumpur and New York. can certainly not neglect a consideration of how things are crucial in a person's realization of ontological. and. indeed. Fieldworkers continue to report "the enormous religious diversity" of the Mainland uplands. Religion and the Islamization of the State in Malaysia. modes of production. and economic outcomes that tangible religious materials make possible or preclude. animist hunter-gatherers and swidden farmers in the hills."' The Siamese King Narai famously told the Jesuits who sought his conversion that God Himself appeared to prefer being worshipped in a great variety of material forms. Undoing Family: Law. van Foreest and A. or sharing a meal or a handshake or refusing to do so. including Southeast Asia. 1969 [1693]). NY: Oxford University Press. "An 'Old' Religion in 'New Order' Indonesia: Notes on Ethnicity and Religious Affiliation. 1994). van Neck. for example. Malaysia. and rituals than with doctrines and boundaries. the quest for tighter national integration has placed great strains on this pluralistic pattern. and that things are often the central focal point of religious activity in the region. Indigenous religious traditions remain in scattered parts of almost all countries of the 6 3 Simon de la Loubere. and Anne Schiller. H." 4 Even more fundamental than this urban cosmopolitanism. according to which religion is reduced to a matter of belief that ought be kept out of civic space. "The Evidence of the Senses and the Materiality of Religion. greatly strengthening an official version of what Islam is. moral. There were. to examine what pursuing and achieving these outcomes might mean for a person's sense of herself or himself amidst the challenges of a religiously diverse environment. therefore. I. however." by which we do not merely suggest that there is a spiritual element to materials. artworks. too. indeed. Since about 1970. Its cities were inherently cosmopolitan to a degree unknown in Europe. the public engagement with and through religious materials reveals greater fissures in the liberal ideal of secular disenchantment. 8 James C. Our title indicates that we seek to consider "the spirit of things. p. was the way in which both Indian and Chinese religious systems were more concerned with sacred places. the Dutch similarly noticed how Malays. 7 Webb Keane. In the new nation-states of Asia. p. 1980). This is a point well articulated by an anthropologist of Southeast Asia.. IL: University of Chicago Press. Public Religious i1z tlze lviodem World (Chicago. Japan. and modern media generally have established in China. While global patterns of homogeneity have created new tensions and sporadic violence in Southeast Asia. we find in the region an extraordinary abundance of languages. ed. and Russia. CT: Yale University Press. 5 Maznah Mohamad. Consequently. It is in materiality that they are part of experience and provoke responses. Introduction In the multi-religious. 6 Religious pluralism remains a challenge because faith is not simply interiorized belief that demands privatized assent. which brought together contributors from a rich array of intellectual and disciplinary backgrounds. and viharas (Buddhist monasteries). since he had created such diversity among his people. European visitors noted the "great multitude of strangers of different nations . Scott. Faiths have social. settled there with the liberty of living according to their own customs. MANY BUT ONE: CONTESTED RELIGIOUS PLURALISM IN SOUTHEAST ASIA The humid tropics. and Brunei have built numerous spectacular mosques with state funds.3 (2010): 360-84." foumal of the Royal Antlzropological Institute 14 (2008): s110-s127. Siamese. have encouraged faith communities to "ring-fence" the distinctiveness of their traditions with the view towards maintaining and enhancing their memberships. A new unification of Islam had developed in Indonesia under Soeharto largely through the Ministry of Religion. Religious pluralism. fundamental realities in Southeast Asia ensuring a richer diversity of religious belief than in Europe. some indicative of more recent trends towards religious exclusivism and decontextualized orthodoxies. relics. in turn.

4 Introduction Julius Bautista and Anthony Reid region. 1840-1910 (Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press. but to a single school of that religion: Sunni Islam of the Shafi'i legal school (mazhab) in Indonesia. often in terms that intersect with precolonial anitismo beliefs even while expressed through the veneration of Christian icons. Rod Ling. CT: Eastbridge. and Buddhism of the Theravada School in the Mainland countries. 12 "Religious Persecution in Indonesia: Murder in God's name. 2004).1 (2011): 59-87. which they then insisted were the oniy legitimate ones. We may think of the example of Tai and Mon kings in the fifteenth century who sent missions of monks to Sri Lanka to bring back Mahavihara rites of ordination. February 8. even while their informal networks and ad-hoc associations are vigorously denounced as "illicit" by Church authorities. . This was a way in which they could arm themselves with a new kind of legitimacy that could undercut the local legitimacies of every lineage and sacred place. however. Reform and Prophet-based movements in Burma. see Gary Bouma." had a habit of embracing externally validated orthodoxy or orthopraxy. part 2. the Philippines. Only in Thailand. thereby turning the new sanglta into an instrument of unification they could control.a lleto. anti-imperial nationalism made efforts in the 1930s to embrace Christian and other minorities in the broadest possible front. the periods of expansion of precolonial states have consistently ridden on the back of homogenization in the religious field. though often mixed with Buddhism and spiritism) continues to be vibrant particularly in Malaysia." The Ec01zomist." Jozmzal of Southeast Asian Studies 42. 12 In comparison with the situation in older centers of competitive Abrahamic (or revealed) religion. A more exclusivist character tempers religious plurality in Southeast Asia. 15 Sarekat Islam in Indonesia and the Young Men's Buddhist Association in Burma. In Indonesia. 2010). In addition to the varieties of indigenous belief.o de Cebu (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press. NY: Cambridge University Press. and Reynaldo Clemeii. has been challenged by both premodern and anticolonial efforts to commandeer avenues towards spiritual transcendence. New Religious Movements (NRMs) within and outside of the mainstream religions add greatly to the diversity of material religion in Southeast Asia. Bali maintains an intensely local religious system under the name of Hinduism. and Thailand also honor more ancient traditions. legally allowing no Malay at all to be other than a Sunni Muslim. the Philippines (80 percent). Ricklefs. anti-imperial nationalism in the twentieth century had the effect of homogenizing religious identity. nominally mainstream believers of Java. Roman Catholic Christianity of the Latin rite in the Philippines. Mystic Syutlzesis ill Java: A HistonJ of Islamizntion from the Fourteelltlz to Early Nineteenth Centuries (N orwalk. therefore. and Cambodia (92 percent) today formally subscribe not just to a single religion. In the Philippines. nation/race. 2010). 10 See Julius Bautista. and Vietnam have arisen in reaction to the influence and spread of Buddhism and Christianity. albulanJOS (shamans). Imperial Alchemy: Nationalism alld Political IdentihJ in Southeast Asia (Cambridge and New York. In general. where anti-imperial nationalism was not a persuasive option. Meanwhile. "An Uncivil State of Affairs: Fascism and Anti-Catholicism in Thailand. for example. 2006).Volume Olle: The Lands below tlte Wiuds (New Haven. 13 What could account for such homogenizing tendencies. and Douglas Pratt.28-30. Phibun Songkhram encouraged moves against Christian. 1988). espiritistas (spirit mediums). of the Santa Niii. northern Laos. and new Pentecostal groups are making inroads in many other places throughout Southeast Asia.. 8-10. 2003). and religion. 19401944. Pasyon and Revolution: Popular Movemellts in the Philippines. eds. p. have made a very public impact even though carried out by tiny minorities. especially those rendered newly wealthy through the "Age of Commerce. 1450-1680. and the interiors of the large Philippine and Indonesian islands overtly practice their indigenous faith traditions and rituals in spite of their minority status and pressures from more powerful ethnic and religious groups. it is the least tolerant of any state towards its majority population. 14 Secondly.. Consider that overwhelming majorities of the populations of Indonesia (86 percent). seemingly in conflict with a fundamental acceptance of diversity? There are at least two aspects specific to Southeast Asia's political and social history that are relevant to this question. In Thai nationalism's most extreme form during the 1940s. Communities in northern Myanmar. the dominant form of nationalism was one that sought the unity of what Sukarno called the kaum sini ("us here") against the kaum sana ("them there"). Precolonial kings. millenarian and syncretistic Colorum sects present varying interpretations of the Christian message. messianic and apocalyptic movements have drawn from Javanese mysticism to offer alternatives to both indigenous and institutional religious networks' In the Philippines.Volume 1: Integration Oil the Mainland (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Church-burnings directed at minorities outside the "Umma. Firstly. 10 Yet this is not the whole story. 2010). like the offerings placed on old trees and in places of death or sacred remembrance.430-31. Figurilzg Catlzolicism: An Etlmolziston. Tile Samahmz of Papa God: Tradition mzd C01wersio1z in a Tagalog Peasant Religious Movement (Manila: Anvil. often in ways that have complemented specific visions of citizenship and authority. 15 Anthony Reid. not even such relatively coherent sub-cultures as the waktu telu (a variant of Islam) of Lombok are recognized by the modern and official sector. Muslim. and Vietnam. 2011. Victor B." and violence towards those within it who have been deemed to act in a deviant way (Ahmadis most recently). Cf: Yale University Press. mobilized people around the majority religion before the idea of secular nationalism was understood. and the majority of scriptural or world religions. Religious DiversihJ ilz Southeast Asia mzd the Pacific National Case Studies (Dordrecht and London: Springer. c. Thailand (94 percent)." Although Malaysia looks statistically more diverse.. Southeast Asia ill the Age of Commerce. 800-1830. 16 Shane Strate_. and Chinese minorities with a ferocity not usually associated with the "land of smiles. pp. Burma (89 percent). Although Islam and Buddhism cover a huge variety of beliefs and practices on the ground. Thailand. 13 See Robert Love. 14 Anthony Reid. and mangagamots (faith healers) continue to be consulted by a large cross-section of rural and urban folk. often practiced in addition to or alongside "foreign" faiths. Singapore. they do so as "women's business. Lieberman. 1979). religious fault lines in Southeast Asia remain weakly institutionalized. did the religious element become a necessary central feature of the nationalist triad-king. pp. In their dealings with material things. These examples may suggest that the celebrated 9 Merle C. Strmzge Parallels: Soutfleast Asia in Global Context." 16 Southeast Asia's traditional openness to religious diversity. In Southeast Asia. 11 For statistical information on the religious profile of Southeast Asia. Where old beliefs survive in the private domain. Chinese popular religion (officially Daoist. perhaps just because of the "frontier" character of the scriptural 5 religions there. 43-44." and in Indonesia as ill-defined adat (custom). 195.

much has changed since the mid-1980s. More than acting merely as paraphernalia or the tangible manifestation of interiorized belief. "religious materials" is a term that collectively refers to objects and things as well as places and structures. pp.. Daniel Miller (Durham. 2 ~ Webb Keane. 2007)." which is a mentality that acknowledges that the faithful and the materials they engage with are embedded in processes of individual self-construction and renewal. 24 The approach to material things cannot be based upon an analysis of language or texts alone. There have been some significant scholarly attempts to situate the material as a central concern in the humanities and social sciences18 In 1986. and performances induce and are in turn colored by. materials facilitate platforms from which alternative claims to pluralism can be upheld. xiii. which are conditioned by tangible things that are "out there" in the public sphere. whether as commodities that manifest the 17 Introduction Julius Bautista and Anthony Reid Webb Keane. construction. environmental degradation. or scriptural transmission. 19 Arjun Appadurai. NC: Duke University Pres~. 19 The end of the Cold War. seeing. therefore. offers a contextually relevant framework from which we can pursue a study of materiality in Southeast Asia. 1-50. 22 David Morgan. Religio11 and Material Cnltnre: The Matter of Belief (Oxford and New York. Given that things lead social. In short. I would suggest. and buildings that bear the likeness and representational register of religious symbol and personality. and (2) the sensory experiences that things elicit in the process of their use in ritual. 7 ideological commitment to liberal free markets.. is rapidly shaping up as the predominant challenge humans face on a global scale." The valuable contribution that Keane's work brings to 20 Over the past decade." 22 Materializing belief." in Materinlity. and ecological lives. globalization. Christian Modems: Freedom and Fetislz iu tlze Mission Encollnter (Berkeley and Los Angeles. from a topography of underlying assumptions. the persistent and continued use of materials in ways that defy the state testifies to what Keane has called an "anxious transcendance. rather than being peripheral to and secondary to belief. 20 In Materiality. Conferences such as "Thinking through Things: Theorizing Artifacts in Ethnographic Perspective" at the University of Cambridge in October 2004. ed. political. Seminal as that work is. the sensation of things." 17 In this volume.6 tolerance of Southeast Asian countries is no better. feeling and emotion. and representation/ stuff. icons. . These developments may encourage the claim that.. monuments. THE MATERIALITY OF BELIEF In this volume. In his volume entitled Religion and Material Culture: The Matter of Belief. CA: University of California Press. The essays in this volume suggest otherwise. Belief is not simply a matter of doctrinal. Tlze Social Life of Things: Commodities hz Cultural Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 308-25. while religion and terrorism have "taken over" from ideology as the master "problem" of the twenty-first century. invites us to expand our very definition of religious belief itself. and it is used in a way that is expansive enough to accommodate a diversity of form. The foremost thinkers who are taking up this challenge show some complementarities in their ideas about materiality as central to the crafting of people's beliefs.. Morgan focuses on the "use of things. even to the extent of provoking regimes that seek to regulate religious diversity and unchecked public demonstrations of religious vitality." such as statues. cars. and the global war on terror have altered the intellectual and social terrain considerably. we need to show how the things that people make. "Materiality: An Introduction. Arjun Appadurai described in The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective how commodities lead social lives and have "cultural biographies" as they circulate across different regimes of value. focus upon how precisely our sense of ourselves as subjects [is] created . But it is also important to think about {as authors in this volume do) the things that may not immediately evoke religious ideas-like money. NY: Routledge. "a matrix in which belief happens as touching. idea/ thing. make people. and water-to underscore the diverse ways that. Miller calls for ethnographic practice in particular to " ."" Materiality. theater props. rather. 2006). he argues. encourages a rethinking of the concept of religion as an ensemble of assertions that demand and proclaim ascent (the ideal of disenchantment in a religiously plural society). the rise and fall of the market. of religious materiality. the conventional dichotomies of concept/ object. and "Things: Material Religion and the Topography of Divine Spaces" at the University of Amsterdam in June 2007 encourage us to question. it is important to investigate the kinds of religious lives they lead as they move through different regimes of devotion and piety. and craftsmanship. Fenella Cannell (Durham. p. size. privatized and internalized in the name of securing religious harmony amid diversity. relics. Webb Keane's work on Sumba. and at times cooption. pp. spaces. as Daniel Miller has put it. While the state-defined versions of pluralism are manifested through the regulation. 18 Daniel Miller. "Epilogue: Anxious Transcendence/' in The A1ztlzropology of Clzristimzity. means attending to a broad spectrum of sensory experience. What remains constant in all of these scenarios is that they each evoke the significance of things as the locus of human engagement with the social world. 2005). such as climate change. several academic gatherings have taken this discussion further. 23 1bid." pp. 2010)." "agency. Indonesia. NC: Duke University Press. economic. It is crafted. The question that needs to be addressed is whether or not the fundamental sources of religious tolerance in Southeast Asia's more distant past have been completely expunged by the modern factors that make for homogeneity. theological. " Miller. 1986)." and. These "semiotic ideologies" are shared ideas about words and things that condition commonsense understandings of concepts such as "freedom. we think of religious materiality as an ensemble of practices in which the crafting of individual religious subjectivity becomes coterminous with assertions of group distinctiveness. or as the stuff of the pervasive hyperconsumption that must be curbed in the name of environmental sustainability.able to resist nationalism and religious exclusivity in modern guise than are countries elsewhere. Daniel Miller calls for a "republic of mutual respect. as imagination and intuition. hearing and tasting. To be sure. number. age. "diversity. "Materiality: An Introduction. towards considering {1) the material properties of things. the cultivation of feeling that objects. as will and action." 21 David Morgan's call to "materialize belief. "objects make selves" in religiously plural Southeast Asia. ed. but rather should stem from an emphasis on the historically specific background assumptions that undergird these things and their significance. the chapters that follow discuss things that one would intuitively think of as "religious. if not abandon altogether." meanwhile. 27-28.

religious materials remain relevant in crafting identities that are either strategically complicit with or resistant to state attempts at suppression and regulation. as described by Hoskins and Yeah. as the faithful negotiate their duties to nation or village. As Karlsson and de Mersan describe regarding two states in Myanmar. it is interesting to juxtapose the Grand Temple of Caodai in Vietnam and the Bukit Mertajam shrine in Malaysia. are ecumenical structures that facilitate the dissolution of those tensions. and Agency. linguistic. at times. and Nguy~n ask whether religious objects in Vietnam "can still be agents" amid contrasting forces that. Art mzd AgellCJj: All Allllzropological Tlzeon. Malaysia. Auxious Transcendence. inscribe a monetary value on their circulation and. Klemens Karlsson (chapter 4). and Johan Fischer {chapter 2) consider religious materials when they are caught up in the frenetic circulatory forces of market exchange. In this way. 25 This process is evident among believers and adherents in Southeast Asia for whom religious objects derive their potency precisely because they have. Consumption. as in the cases of Vietnam. Yeah Seng Guan (chapter 5). Taken together. social agents themselves. hostile to the inherent principle of heterogeneity in the region. the vehement insistence by public officials that they must be subordinated to a narrowly defined national identity ironically renders ethnic and religious harmony increasingly fragile and elusive. Kenneth Sillander (chapter 9). in which varieties of belief (not just religious) are linked to the public. ethnic conflict. and practices. and are. The two chapters draw our attention to those social dynamics among coevals-whether fellow villagers. on the other. and historical family resemblances in Southeast Asia." 26 The essays above demonstrate how tangible objects have the power to enable living people to be aware of and interact with beings and powers that are otherwise not perceptible to the human senses. 9 In these kinds of tension-ridden political environments. often resonating with the ideal of religious exclusivism that is. as is the case in Malaysia. Both essays trace the significance of religious materials in the often creative negotiation between piety and commercial pragmatism. In response to this. traces how permanent household altars called longan are sources of reproductive potency among the Bentian of Indonesian Borneo. Alfred Gel! argues that agency can and is "abducted" by viewers. the contributors discuss the multifaceted settings in which materials craft spiritual life amid the challenges posed by religious plurality. Kendall. both of which. or fellow conscripts in warthat are forged by the interaction with religious materials. His is a dialectical approach to the process of objectification. for example. On the other hand. 27 Matthew Engelke. such that art works are considered the equivalents of persons. Economic prosperity is an ideal citizens aspire to. and materiality. the inherent potency of religious objects is only one aspect of their importance. In the section entitled "Commodification. external materiality of words. given that these cars are not simply indicators of class status but also indexical of the modes of consumer behavior that bear social and religious capital in a rapidly rising economic sphere. Evoking parallels to Matthew Engelke' s work on the "problem of presence" among Friday Apostolics in Zimbabwe. meanwhile. In the second section. but according to the economic. managerial (or in some respects repressive) policies on religion. 26 Keane. Johan Fischer's essay on Islamized Proton cars in Malaysia encourages us to inquire into the same interplay of market consumption and religious piety. pp. CA: University of California Press. political. In his book Art and Agency. and Alexandra de Mersan {chapter 6) discuss how crucial themes of state-formation. "crucial media for the selfobjectification by which human subjects know themselves and make themselves recognizable to others. 2007). the chapters enable us to reflect comparatively across a rich tapestry of cultural. on the one hand. subjects them to a state-sponsored iconoclasm in which their value is diminished. objects. and pragmatism is the mindset with which to achieve it." Janet Hoskins (chapter 3). It is in these examples that we see most prominently the central theme we highlight-that engagement with materiality has the capacity to temper often repressive exclusivist tendencies. NY: Clarendon Press. cultural. The third section. In these places. Vu Thy Thanh Tarn. and Exchange. 309-10. Vu. a "life of their own. on "Power. argues Liana Chua (chapter 7). . action. but also how they empower and inspire the people who engage with them. and performative contexts in which these objects are embedded. Keane provides a framework for an approach to material religion that problematizes the primacy that is typically placed on interiorized. Ho Chi Minh City and Kuala Lumpur exemplify principles that are gaining increasing currency in Southeast Asian urban spaces. and Nguy~n Thj Thu Huctng. in that respect. as it were. such as urban Malaysia. the religious lives of citizens are made to conform to a state-defined vision of community and nation." Amulets. and Myanmar. Singapore. particularly amid the pressures exerted by a Borneo Evangelical Church "unmediated by the physical protocol" of religious materials. and nationalism are embedded in and through the reverence for spaces and devotion to objects. who argues that soldiers were emboldened by an arcane power that is potent regardless of whether the bearers were Buddhists. Even where states formally encode religious and ethnic diversity as part of civic life. speech. 27 Chua' s study 25 Alfred Cell. They inquire into how materials exert an impact upon the vertical and horizontal relationships within faith communities in Southeast Asia. But what happens when materiality is conspicuous in its absence? In Sarawak. "Ethnicity and Nationalism. are the source of protective potency for Thai volunteers in the Vietnam-American War. (chapter 1). exerting a volition that is beyond the control even of those who conjure them. A Problem of Presence: BeJjOild Scripture in an African Churclz (Berkeley. "empty" Christian crosses become a problem for Bidayuh Christians. The chapters are divided into four sections. In this sense. respectively. The engagement with religious materials is particularly crucial in regimes that have highly regulated. Potency. as discussed by Richard Ruth (chapter 8). Both the essays ask not only what kinds of potencies are inherent in objects themselves. (Oxford and New York. Buddha images are tangible signifiers of recalcitrance to the military regime in Burma. as Keane observes. For both Thai Buddhists and Bentian animists. arranged not so much according to the kind of religious materials they discuss. materials are. SYNOPSIS AND OVERVIEW OF THE STRUCTURE The approaches to materiality above encourage us to seek out those tacit assumptions that condition and produce engagements with material forms in the region. 1998)." Laurel Kendall." contains essays that take as their starting point the inherent power of objects. or the places in which these materials are located. "sincere" thought.8 Introduction Julius Bautista and Anthony Reid the discussion is a nuanced account of the relationship between thought. emphasis added.

familial obligations in a wider social context of community and kin. Chua focuses on the "futuricity" of their material forms. or those seeking to ensure the welfare of the spirits of ancestors who have passed on. Sandra Cate and H.and protocol-centered practices and discourses. and pilgrimages. as discussed in Margaret Chan's essay (chapter 12). internalized (and ostensibly unintrusive) belief. and on the memberships that these objects testify to or preclude in a context where religious pluralism often results in a competition for adherents." three chapters trace the importance of religious objects in the context of rituals. Similarly. we can observe the public nature of religious piety in a collective effervescent spirit of communitas. Leedom Lefferts. (chapter 10) and Cecilia De La Paz (chapter 11) describe how religious materials craft personal religious petitions into the public sphere through procession. In these cases. performances." But rather than thinking of Bidayuh Christians as simply fetishists or materialists. and objects. Catholics in the Philippines resemble Theravada Buddhists in Northeastern Thailand and Laos in the way they grant importance to the public parading and display of religious materiality. In the section entitled "The Spirit in and of Things. and authenticity are invested in certain actions." through which they "generate effects through things: instead of being ends in themselves. She demonstrates the ways in which Bidayuhs craft "a set of object. They demonstrate that religious piety can and must be public. meaning.10 Julius Bautista and Anthony Reid discusses the tensions that arise in the process in which religious authority. These essays problematize the secular ideal of private. . Jr. in order to be meaningfully enacted in a context that remains vibrant. the reverence shown towards anthropomorphic images of Chinese ancestors in Singapore situates the individual's personal. words. though problematically plural. even demonstrative. on the actions and beliefs that empty crosses make possible. whether it is among Buddhists seeking to make merit. Catholics fulfilling their spiritual vows.

Wesleyan University. the only parts of the body that will be seen by the viewer on an ordinary day are the head and the blackened feet. In only one country. to see these interests as being synonymous with those of national communities as a whole or to imagine that capitalist development entails a convergence of values. (Figures. paper. however.95. The fact that many Southeast Asian diplomats have personal ties to Americans and have studied in the US is also significant. x. in some cases. stories regarding the ways in which that material is visible and invisible to the participants in various religious rites. ISBN 978-0-87727-758-3. In his introduction to the volume and to different degrees in each of the twelve chapters there are details about the actual material realities of objects used in ritual and worship in Southeast Asia. The Spirit of Things. as well as bedclothes given to it by various patrons. “…the roots of alignment with the United States have more to do with authoritarianism than any convergence of liberal values” (199). the Senyor appears in people’s dreams (189). the mentoring of junior staff by senior diplomats. Stories abound of people who donated clothes to the icon because they feel compelled to do so. and efforts to highlight the agency of the objects themselves to act on living communities and even in individuals’ dreams. significantly. 2012. HamiltonHart concludes that “beliefs” in the diplomatic communities of Southeast Asia have been largely shaped by vested material and political interests that are reliant upon a strong American presence in the region. NY: Cornell Southeast Asia Program Publications. Julius Bautista.” describes the image of the Dead Christ called Mahal na Senyor in Lucban.Book Reviews policies. Quezon (Philippines).) US$31. Bautista started choosing contributors and developing ideas for this 943 . Ithaca. Studies on Southeast Asia. The images are never seen as static objects of worship. due to the growing influence of Islam. Middletown. This one passage in Julius Bautista’s excellent edited collection. Indonesia. Claimed to be made of solid wood (even its joints). The image owns as many as forty sets if clothes in all imaginable shades. most of whom are well-off and. and the opinionshaping effect of the largely pro-American TV and print media in the region. but dynamic players effecting highly mobile and diverse sets of practitioners. She demonstrates that it would be wrong. As she notes. sums up many of the themes Bautista was trying to emphasize. 220 pp. “The Potency of Poon. This passage from Cecilia De La Paz’s chapter. does Hamilton-Hart think that “fundamental foreign policy beliefs” are likely to change in the foreseeable future. In her final chapter. analyses of the role of money and class in the making and employing of these objects. 58. USA Tony Day THE SPIRIT OF THINGS: Materiality and Religious Diversity in Southeast Asia. Editor. residing and working in other countries.

These two institutions. No. in Bautista’s case. This volume certainly traces objects on the move. especially in the case of chapters by Richard Ruth on the use of Thai Buddhist amulets by American and Thai soldiers in the Vietnam War. Instead of just collecting chapters loosely connected under a general rubric. legally or illegally. Bautista and Anthony Reid.Pacific Affairs: Volume 86. While sometimes I think that the coining of new terms to explain easily observable religious and social phenomena is simply the creation of unnecessary scholarly jargon (i. to speak to each other and respond to each other. This volume is also rare because there is a relatively equal balance between not only Islam. but also a balance between Island and Mainland Southeast Asia.e. didn’t the Comaroffs already coin the term “occult economies”?). is admirable. One of these sub-fields is certainly the study of religion and material culture which has seen several good publications in the past three years. where the question of whether edited collected studies volumes make sense. these new phrases efficiently describe the types of activity he wants to highlight across the chapters. these conferences have started to define new sub-fields in Southeast Asian Studies. alongside the Southeast Asian Studies Centers at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and the center at Kyoto University. His introduction explains the birth of the volume as well as establishing a few guiding principles to reading the collection. This might be the greatest strength of this collection: the chapters enhance each other and make sense when read together. The inclusion of chapters on the Philippines and Malaysia. In the current publishing climates. 4 – December 2013 collection in 2008 after one of the numerous conferences at the National University of Singapore and the Asia Research Institute. In their introduction. Generally the study of material culture and religion in Southeast Asia has over-emphasized the role of objects as tools of social control by “the State” and/or as tools 944 . In many cases. He uses “locomotive sociality” to emphasize this collection’s emphasis on the actual movement of an object of veneration in a social and public capacity. The study is also good for what it does not emphasize. This volume is more than the sum of its parts. have done much to reinvigorate the field of Southeast Asian Studies after a slow decline of Southeast Asian Studies centers in Europe and North America. Catholicism and Buddhism (there is even a very good study that focuses on the Caodai by Janet Hoskins). with strong editorial control over the unity of the work. Reid and Bautista also effortlessly blend a close attention to the actual objects studied and the tackling of big questions of diversity versus the homogenizing tendencies of modernity in the field of Southeast Asian Studies. who he co-wrote the introduction with. He uses “pious economies” to discuss objects that “circulate in the process of commerce and exchange. in market places” (viii). two countries often ignored in the study of religion in Southeast Asia. this is a difficult task. and John Fischer’s study of religion and car culture in Suburban Malaysia.. have brought together a group of scholars to tackle a related set of problems.

” do not see objects as tools of oppression.P. besides Klemens Karlsson’s “Material Religion and Ethnic Identity: Buddhist Visual Culture and Burmanization of the Eastern Shan State.” Seeing objects as symbols of power or as referents to unseen social and spiritual phenomena has been standard in the study of religious art and material culture in Southeast Asia for decades. By David W. New York: Oxford University Press. this is a minor criticism of an otherwise very valuable contribution to the field. xviii. I appreciated this contribution for its focus on ritual and the forming of ritual collectivities outside the purview of urban power centres and majority ethnic groups. ISBN 978-0-19-538334-8. USA Justin McDaniel CHANGING WORLDS: Vietnam’s Transition from Cold War to Globalization. Vietnam political leaders moved from seeing the international relations as a zero-sum struggle between communism and capitalism to seeking engagement and friendship with all countries and 945 . Keane is actually invoked several times in the introduction. (Figures. cloth. In a short review (of which I have already exceeded the word limit!). However. I cannot do justice to describing and offering comments on each chapter.95. Philadelphia. his ideas are not brought up in the rest of the chapters.” which emphasizes the “public capacity” of objects. I would have liked to see Keane’s work responded to in a more systematic and sustained way. 2012. Karlsson focuses on large Buddha images. David Elliott’s new book analyzes how and why Vietnam’s national security and foreign policies changed dramatically between 1975 (the end of some three decades of war) to 2005.) US$49.Book Reviews of economic manipulation and capitalist-driven commercialization. Suffice to say that there were no disappointing chapters in this collection and the studies on Chinese image worship in Singapore by Margaret Chan and Alexandra de Mersan’s study of the making of Buddha images in Arakan could prove to become major contributions in the field. However. These articles. Only Kenneth Sillander’s study of the social and religious role the longan house altar in Borneo actively discusses the altar as a symbol of potency. While I find his work inspiring and useful. like the Khemarattha Stasding Buddha in Chiang Tung (Kengtung). I am glad Bautista included this chapter though. and this is one of the few instances of disconnect between content and theory. because although it does not fit into the general themes of agency. mobility and exchange in the volume. Another theme that is refreshingly ignored in this volume is “symbolism. It would serve as a good companion volume to courses on Southeast Asian religion and/or religion and material culture. Elliott. it exposes an understudied topic and fits in well with a sub-theme of “locomotive sociality. My only serious criticism is the strange inclusion of Webb Keane’s theory of “semiotic ideologies” in the introduction. University of Pennsylvania. 408 pp.