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Sharing the Earth, Dividing the Land

Sharing the Earth, Dividing the Land: Land and territory in the Austronesian world

Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Sharing the Earth, Dividing the Land
    Book Description:

    This collection of papers is the fifth in a series of volumes on the work of the Comparative Austronesian Project. Reflecting the unique experience of fourteen ethnographers in as many different societies, the papers in this volume explore how people in the Austronesian-speaking societies of the Asia-Pacific have traditionally constructed their relationship to land and specific territories. Focused on the nexus of local and global processes, the volume offers fresh perspectives to current debate in social theory on the conflicting human tendencies of mobility and emplacement.

    eISBN: 978-1-920942-70-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Chapter 1. Land and Territory in the Austronesian World
    (pp. 11-38)
    Thomas Reuter

    Contemporary societies within the South-East Asia-Pacific Region still maintain a distinctively Austronesian cultural perspective on land and territory. The present volume contributes to the comparative study of Austronesian societies by exploring this important theme of land and territory within their traditional cultures. At the same time, the authors acknowledge that these are cultures in transition and traditional relationships to land are increasingly compromised by the legal and administrative systems of modern nationstates in the region. This volume also contributes to a current debate in anthropology on the conflicting human tendencies of mobility and emplacement. In the context of this debate,...

  6. Chapter 2. The Origin Structure of Kute Among the Gumai: An Analysis of an Indigenous Territorial Institution in the Highlands of South Sumatra
    (pp. 39-64)
    Minako Sakai

    This chapter examines indigenous territorial categories in the highlands of the Province of South Sumatra, by focusing on Gumai villages. While desa is the official term for villages, conceived as administrative units of the modern Indonesian State, and while most people will name their dusun or ′hamlet′ when asked about their place of residence, local ritual specialists still use kute as the traditional term to refer to a residential territory (from Sanskrit and Old-Malay kuta, ′fortified town′ or ′palace′). They do so primarily in the context of the rituals to commemorate the origin of the kute.

    The Gumai are a...

  7. Chapter 3. Ritual Domains and Communal Land in the Highlands of Bali
    (pp. 65-82)
    Thomas Reuter

    The central highlands and some coastal areas of Bali are home to a little-known indigenous minority group, the Bali Aga or ′Mountain Balinese′. This paper focuses on ritual domains formed by clusters of Bali Aga ′villages′ (desa adat or desa ulu apad). These regional, spatially bounded and historically conceived networks are known as banua. The banua and its constituent desa form a sacred landscape inscribed by the memory of a continuous history of human settlement and migration, and re-inscribed through origin narratives and ritual performances at sacred sites of origin, which are marked by shrines or temples. This multi-layered process...

  8. Chapter 4. Banua or Negara? The Culture of Land in South Bali
    (pp. 83-112)
    Graeme MacRae

    Land has always been a critical resource in the successive political economies of south Bali, and not surprisingly, it has also been deeply embedded in a rich matrix of cultural meanings. ¹ This ,was evident to the earliest foreign observers—′There is a … correlation of the … people with … the land′ (Covarrubias 1994: 11, see also pp. 59, 84)—and has remained so until relatively recently. In the past generation, however, land has been relocated substantially from this matrix of meaning into something increasingly resembling the universal capitalist commodity hidden in the misleading term ′real estate′, with all...

  9. Chapter 5. Tanah Berkat (Blessed Land): The Source of the Local in the Banda Islands, Central Maluku
    (pp. 113-134)
    Phillip Winn

    The Banda Islands in central Maluku have long been a site of historical transformations. As a consequence, human relationships to land and place in the Bandas need to be understood in terms of dynamic processes of culture and history. In the pre-colonial period, the islands formed a key part of extensive trading networks reaching across the archipelago to link Maluku with the northern seaports of Java, the cosmopolitan city-state of Malacca in peninsular Malaysia, and ultimately to the Middle East, China and Europe. By the arrival of the first Europeans, the population of the islands included numbers of resident Malay...

  10. Chapter 6. Mapping Buru: The Politics of Territory and Settlement on an Eastern Indonesian Island
    (pp. 135-156)
    Barbara Dix Grimes

    On the most up-to-date maps of the Indonesian Province of Maluku, one will find Buru Island labelled ′District of Buru Island′ (Kabupaten Pulau Buru). Buru′s attainment of district status in 1999 was the result of several years of effort by delegates in the Provincial Assembly in Ambon. Before this, Buru appeared on maps merely as three ′subdistricts′ (kecamatan) in the ′District of Central Maluku′ (Kabupaten Maluku Tengah), governed from the district centre at Masohi on the island of Seram. ¹

    The need to update maps of Buru is nothing new. In the 16th century, the island of Buru was claimed...

  11. Chapter 7. Traditional Territorial Categories and Constituent Institutions in West Seram: The Nili Ela of ′WELE Telu Batai and the Alune Hena of Ma′saman Uwei
    (pp. 157-178)
    Christine Boulan-Smit

    Seram, the largest island of the Moluccas, lies only a few hours by boat from the regional capital city of Ambon. According to tradition, Seram is referred to as Nusa Ina, the ′Mother Island′. An Alune narrative, collected by A.D.E. Jensen, recalls that at one time in the past Seram, Ambon and the Uliase Islands (Saparua, Haruku and Nusalaut) formed a single island where warfare was constant. So, the people of Ambon cut off a large parcel of land, tied it with human hair and dragged it to where it lies nowadays. Later, those of Saparua, Haruku and Nusalaut did...

  12. Chapter 8. From Domains to Rajadom: Notes on the History of Territorial Categories and Institutions in the Rajadom of Sikka
    (pp. 179-210)
    E.D. Lewis

    Two forms of Sikkanese society can be distinguished in contemporary Kabupaten² Sikka of eastern Flores on ethnological grounds. One is that of the Ata Tana ′Ai in the eastern region of the kabupaten. The other is that of central Sikka, which includes the villages of the central hills and mountains and the north and south coasts of the regency. ³ The main difference between the two societies that will concern me here is this: whereas no secular polity ever developed in Tana ′Ai, by the beginning of the 20th century, the society of central Sikka constituted a local state, a...

  13. Chapter 9. We Are Children Of The Land: A Keo Perspective
    (pp. 211-236)
    Philipus Tule

    This paper explores traditional forms of land tenure in the Worowatu subdistrict of the Keo region in Central Flores, Indonesia. The focus is on the communal attachment of community members, Muslims and non-Muslims, indigenous people and newcomers, to their inherited clan land (tana ko′o ′ine ′embu). ¹ The organisation of land tenure is tied to a number of traditional offices, reaching down from the ′Lord of the Land′ (′ine tana ′ame watu) and the ′Overseers of the Land′ (′ine ku ′ame lema) to the ′individual cultivators′ (nio tiko éu tako).

    Keo people believe that individuals do not own the land,...

  14. Chapter 10. Contending for Ritual Control of Land and Polity: Comparisons from the Timor Area of Eastern Indonesia
    (pp. 237-252)
    James J. Fox

    The first task in this paper is to locate the problem at hand within a theoretical framework that identifies its significance. ¹ I begin with an examination of the idea of land and domain among the Rotinese. My specific focus is on the central domain (nusak) of Termanu on the island of Roti itself. Although there is considerable linguistic and cultural variation among the domains of the island, the Rotinese share a basic understanding about the nature of their domains. They have all been subjected to similar formative influences. Among the domains of Roti, Termanu was the domain selected by...

  15. Chapter 11. Fataluku Forest Tenures and the Conis Santana National Park in East Timor
    (pp. 253-276)
    Andrew McWilliam

    Fataluku society of Lautem, the most easterly district of East Timor, has attracted comparatively little detailed ethnographic research. ² This paper aims to contribute to a better understanding of this region by exploring Fataluku customary tenures and cultural land management practices in the context of emergent land administration policy in East Timor. Fataluku land and forest tenures will be examined from a comparative perspective, placing them within the wider context of eastern Indonesian ethnology.

    The district of Lautem contains one of the finest contiguous blocks of dense lowland tropical and monsoon forest on the island of Timor. Covering an area...

  16. Chapter 12. Self-Scaling the Earth: Relations of Land, Society and Body Among North Mekeo, Papua New Guinea
    (pp. 277-298)
    Mark Mosko

    The language spoken by the North Mekeo peoples of the Central Province of PNG has been classified by linguists (Jones 1998; Ross 1988) as one of three dialects of Mekeo in the Western Papua Tip cluster of Western Oceanic. Consequently, their language possesses many contemporary reflexes of Proto-Austronesian reconstructions. With regard to the topic of territorial categories and institutions, for Proto-Austronesian *banua and *tanah rendered as ′land′, ′territory′ or ′dwelling place′, North Mekeo have paunga and ango, or ′village′ and ′land′, respectively. ¹ Note that Proto-Oceanic for ′land′ is *tanoq (Pawley and Ross), tana(q) (Grace 1969a) or *panua. In this...

  17. Chapter 13. The Ways of the Land-Tree: Mapping the North Pentecost Social Landscape
    (pp. 299-322)
    John P. Taylor

    On a sunny afternoon, in the shade of a canopy of corrugated iron, beside a smoking fireplace on which green bananas were slowly roasting, my tama (father) and ratahigi (′chief′), Ruben Todali, talked to me about the history of Pentecost Island. He told me that in the past, many centuries before the arrival of tuturani (whites, foreigners) like myself, the people of North Pentecost could not speak. They communicated by way of designs that they described into the ground with their fingers. Instead of people, the sentient and mobile rocks and stones were talkative. ¹ The dark soil of the...

  18. Chapter 14. Finishing the Land: Identity and Land Use in Pre- and Post-Colonial North Ambrym
    (pp. 323-344)
    Mary Patterson

    The first wave of scholars interested in the archipelago of Vanuatu, known as the New Hebrides before 1980, made frequent reference in their work to continuities and commonalities linking the region to its north-west, but it is in the work of linguists and archaeologists rather than in anthropology that Vanuatu′s position in the Austronesian world has been recently established. In most of the work of the second wave of scholars working in the colonial period in Vanuatu, from the 1950s to the late 1970s, anthropologists were much more likely to refer to theoretical issues arising from work in Melanesia, for...

  19. Chapter 15. People and Place in Tonga: The Social Construction of Fonua in Oceania
    (pp. 345-364)
    Steve Francis

    This paper seeks to explore the social classification and territorial concept of fonua in the Pacific Island Kingdom of Tonga. A reflex of the reconstructed Proto-Austronesian territorial category *banua, the word fonua as it is utilised in Tonga intimately connects the people of Tonga with the places that represent Tonga. ¹ Fonua therefore constructs people and place as a bonded entity.

    Although Tonga has been a Christian nation for more than a century, fonua invokes for Tongans an indigenous cosmology in which the environment is regarded as ′an extension of human society′ (Mahina 1992: 57). As a result, human agency...

  20. Postscript — Spatial Categories in Social Context: Tracing a Comparative Understanding of Austronesian Ideas of Ritual Location
    (pp. 365-378)
    James J. Fox

    This collection of ethnographic essays on different peoples within the Austronesian-speaking world represents a step in a comparative effort that is encouraging and frustrating. The papers in this volume engage in this comparative effort in fascinating and diverse ways but their very diversity only highlights the variety of approaches adopted within a comparative Austronesian framework. The papers speak to each other and to previous papers in earlier volumes in the series on Comparative Austronesian Studies but they represent no single viewpoint, nor do they espouse a consistent methodology comparable with that of the ′comparative method′ in linguistics. The cumulative effect...

  21. Contributors
    (pp. 379-382)
  22. Index
    (pp. 383-385)