Panel 4: Monsters and Belief – 8 Dec 9:00 – 10:30

Poppo’, Parakang, and Kongkong: Bugis-Makassar Cross-generational Perceptions of Monsters

Faried F. Saenong

The Bugis-Makassar of eastern Indonesia—like many other cultural and ethnic entities—have their own monsters. In this paper, I focus on three types of Bugis-Makassar monster: Poppo’ (incarnated human who are able to release their head and entrails to fly to find prey), Parakang (incarnated human in the form of animal), and Kongkong (group of incarnated animals). Drawing on long term on-going fieldwork, especially during 2007-2008, in South Sulawesi, I discuss how knowledge about these monsters, the dangers they pose, and how they can be faced, fought or defeated, is transmitted inter-generationally. My specific focus in this paper is on how different generations perceive the ‘reality’ of such monsters. I discuss such intergenerational differences against the literature around the question of ‘how real’ monster are, drawing on Musharbash and Presterudstuen (2014), Dendle (2012), Poole (2011), and Luckhurst (2002). In addition, this paper also includes the incorparation of religion and local belief in the formation of local treatment of those creatures being invented or monsters.

How monsters come into existence: Socialization practices, moral affects, and Anito spirits among the Tao in Taiwan

Leberecht Funk

The Tao People on the Taiwanese island of Lanyu divide the world in human and spiritual domains that need to be kept separated to avoid sickness and misfortunes. Children are especially vulnerable to spiritual attacks as they have not yet obtained cultural knowledge to actively anchore their loosely attached souls to their bodily selfs. In this paper I examine the link between socialization practices, moral affects, and malicious Anito spirits. In certain situations, like when someone gets ‘angry’ (somozi), these monsters can be felt from within and thus come into existence as unquestionable facts. By locating affects and emotions in the environment and in the absence of concepts of ‘psyche’ and ‘coincidence’ the Tao explore alternative epistemological pathways to cope with the monstrous. The ambivalent and threatening character of early socialization practices evoke a disposition for ‘anxiety’ (maniahey) and ‘shame’ (masnek) that will last a lifetime. Children have to follow the instructions of care-givers to avoid physical danger. Leaving the ‘safe’ area of the settlement will cause disobedient children to lose control over their bodily functions. Stumbling, getting injured, or experiencing ‘anxiety’ is interpreted as being ‘harassed’ (jyasnesnekan) by Anito who in this case serve as sanctioning agents.

The Seeing, Believing, and Making of Ghosts and Demons in Fiji

Geir Henning Presterudstuen

My key concern in this talk is to explore how demons travel between ethnic groups and belief systems in Fiji. There, demons, as well as ghosts and spirits, are never far from the surface. They exist as part of the reality people make through everyday practice and cultural work, their very being is tied to the fact that people ‘believe in them’ or ‘attend to them’. For example, as Reverend Tevita Banivanua, The President of the Methodist Church in Fiji, articulated it in a recent moral panic about ‘demonic games’ that gained popularity among teenagers: “if you invite God, he will come and if you invite the Devil, he will also come”. I analyse some specific demon encounters in Fiji with a view to explain how these beings become actors in broader processes of social differentiation, and pay particular attention to how demons are mobilised in discourses about racial difference, inequality and injustice. I conclude by reflecting on what demons might tell us about the structure of belief in the multicultural logic of modern Fiji.