Andrew McWilliam, Shepherd, Christopher J.: Haunted Houses and Ghostly Encounters. Ethnography and Animism in East Timor 1860–1975. Singapore: NUS Press; Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2019. 326 pp. ISBN 978-​87-​7694-​267-​0. Price: € 28,55 in:

Anthropos, page 278 - 279

Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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cado en este caso. La actitud de Obaro Obasare recuerda pasadas épocas que pensábamos superadas, cuando los “visitadores de idolatrías” quemaban templos y objetos sagrados indígenas. (Quizás pueda atribuirse a cierta in‐ genuidad de la autora de este comentario, que no logra concebir que una actitud semejante siga siendo posible en la actualidad). El autor se refiere al problema del mal comentando su situación personal: en Ghana, su abuela era médium, y fue utilizada por espíritus africanos para causar la muerte de varios de sus hijos y sus nietos. También quiso atacarlo a él, pero Dios no lo permitió. Este artículo tange el tema, apenas esbozado en otros trabajos, de los conceptos del bien y del mal, y recuerda la afirmación de uno de los editores del volumen, acerca de la necesidad de rechazar a los espíritus que no con‐ ducen a la sabiduría y el amor, ya que no proceden de Dios. Para Obaro Obasare, los espíritus africanos malig‐ nos no viven solamente en Africa, sino que dominan también en Jamaica las actividades relacionadas con los ancestros. Con esa perspectiva, no es posible entender la ambivalencia de ciertas figuras que existen en el univer‐ so de los Maroon y en numerosas sociedades no occi‐ dentales. Por lo menos desde la visión desde la antropología cultural, que es la de la autora de esta reseña, los inten‐ tos realizados en la conversión al Cristianismo tematiza‐ dos en este volumen parecen ser en gran parte un baile sobre la cuerda floja. Tras la lectura se tiene la impre‐ sión que sus autores hicieron un malabarismo teológico en su intento de armonizar (no siempre con éxito) las enseñanzas del Cristianismo con las tradiciones religio‐ sas de sus sociedades originarias. María Susana Cipolletti ( Shepherd, Christopher J.: Haunted Houses and Ghostly Encounters. Ethnography and Animism in East Timor 1860–1975. Singapore: NUS Press; Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2019. 326 pp. ISBN 978-87-7694-267-0. Price: € 28,55 The mountainous half island country of East Timor (Timor-Leste) has attracted waves of foreign visitors, advisors, and researchers to its shores, most recently following its emergence as a newly independent nation in 2002. Through diverse social engagements in Timorese social and cultural life, many of these visitors have observed the significance according to the agency of spirits and their influence for good and bad across everyday activities of social life. A common reference to describe this cultural complex is the term lulik, mean‐ ing variously, sacred, protective, powerful, and danger‐ ous. The spirit agency of matters lulik remains a funda‐ mental value in Timorese cultural life even as the role of Catholicism and the secular attractions of modernity take an ever more prominent place in peoples’ lives. These contemporary aspects of Timorese animism and spirit ontologies, however, have deep trajectories of engagement and adaptation to the presence of external others. They include the long period of Portuguese colo‐ nialism and its perennial attempts to bring East Timor under the sway of its “civilising mission.” In his critical new work on East Timor, Chris Shepherd presents a highly readable exploration of this historical engage‐ ment and its implications for Timorese animism and the ontology of spirits through the comparative lens of colo‐ nial history. His source material derives from a metaanalysis of ten ethnographic accounts by a range of Por‐ tuguese colonial figures and professional anthropolo‐ gists. Giving each a descriptive moniker that distils the nature of their ethnographic pursuit, the chapters offer insightful observations on aspects of colonial adminis‐ tration, ethnographic interests, and the diverse entangle‐ ments of outsiders with Timorese animism. The effect is to generate what the author describes as a layered his‐ tory of ethnography in one place, and in so doing read‐ ers gain a rich sense of the complexity and character of Portuguese colonialism and Timorese reactions over time. More significantly, the collected narratives serve to illustrate and reinforce the author’s general thesis; namely, that the sustained and intrusive presence of out‐ siders precipitated new forms of Timorese resistance and accommodation, as colonial control over Por‐ tuguese Timor was gradually consolidated. Shepherd describes these new reactive forms as “transformative animism,” which reflects the “adaptive power of ani‐ mism to integrate outside influences and respond to new power relationships” (4). Further, he argues that the per‐ ceived power of outsiders, particularly senior colonial officials, increasingly came to be viewed as homolo‐ gous (i. e., structurally similar) to Timorese lulik spirits themselves, representing both a threat and opportunity; a source of benefit but also danger. The multiple ethno‐ graphic encounters presented in the book, thus, are de‐ signed to illustrate empirical examples of the phenom‐ ena of transformative animism and Timorese symbolic attempts to harness external power to their own ends. The first six ethnographic chapters (Part 1) focus on more mainstream colonial accounts. The author’s selec‐ tion of colonial ethnographers here is very much de‐ pendent on the extent to which their reflective com‐ mentaries allow for greater insight and speculation into their motivations, doubts, and frustrations. One surpris‐ ing omission, I thought, was the late-colonial Por‐ tuguese figure of Ruy Cinatti – administrator, anthropol‐ ogist, and poet – who was so instrumental in bridging colonial and professional ethnography. The second part of the book focuses on four Anglo- American, professional ethnographers, part of a new wave of anthropological interest in Portuguese Timor from the 1960 s. Here the author offers an exacting fo‐ cus on their fieldwork and ethnographic writing, draw‐ ing on the access they afford to their research practice through greater attention to reflexivity and issues of an‐ thropological ethics. The author’s narrative explorations of their research is thus given freer rein along with greater speculative analysis on the emotional and psychosocial implications of their various fieldwork 278 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020 choices, challenges, and cultural faux pas in the field. The result is a set of richly textured perspectives on the pioneering works of little-known figures like Margaret King, and rather better known anthropologists, David Hicks, Elizabeth Traube, and Shepard Forman. In each case, the author charts their complex entanglements, sometimes unwitting, in their host’s animistic cosmolo‐ gies and concerns. Shepherd’s analysis of Elizabeth Traube’s interpretive schemas and suggestive position‐ ality within Mambai socio-symbolic structures is partic‐ ularly incisive in this respect. It provides yet more cor‐ roboration for the conceptual model of a transforma‐ tional animism and the homology of capricious spirits and powerful outsiders. Shepherd makes a strong case for this argument, but I would interpose a critical note at this point and question the implied claim that it offers new insights into Timorese animistic thinking. It seems to me that pre‐ cisely the same set of relationships and emphasis, has already been well rehearsed by Marshall Sahlins in his previous work on the “stranger king” mythologies across the Austronesian world and beyond (The Stranger-King or Dumézil among the Fijians. The Journal of Pacific History 16.1981.3: 107–132; The Stranger King or Elementary Forms of the Politics of Life. Indonesia and the Malay World 36.2008.105: 177– 199). Shepherd makes passing reference to Sahlins’ work, but does not acknowledge his key point on the nature of foreign power; namely, that “[e]ndowed with transcendent powers, the foreign is often an object of desire – and by the same token, of danger (Sahlins 2008: 185). At the same time, the structural potency of the outsider invites the logical possibility of homolo‐ gous identification with more familiar forms of agency and power. As Sahlins notes, “[t]he sources of political power are generally foreign, drawn from realms beyond the self-governing community… [and] [r]anging from beasts to gods and ineffable forces – by way of the gen‐ eric dead or the ancestors – of beings embodied in creatures and features of heaven and earth (2008: 184). There is strong structural similarity here, in other words between powerful foreigners and dangerous spirits. Another point of issue is Shepherd’s highly personal‐ ised analyses of the “professional ethnographers’” ex‐ perience which I found at times insensitive and intru‐ sive. I wondered how the subjects of his gaze had re‐ ceived these judgemental accounts. Three of the four ethnographers under study remain active researchers after all and I imagine they must have had mixed feel‐ ings to have their efforts subject to such forensic scru‐ tiny under Shepherd’s critical eye. It is not clear to what extent they exercised editorial influence over the out‐ comes. Ironically, for a work offering such attention to detail, the presence of the author is much more elusive in the context of the monograph. Shepherd reveals little of his own research experience and complicity in distilling patterns of meaning and interpretation through fieldbased research on Timor Leste. He is content to limit his own revelatory ethnographic experiences to brief anec‐ dotal commentary and empathic corroboration and in the process appears like another kind of ghostly en‐ counter in the pages of the text. This, of course, is the author’s prerogative and, in any case, the historical time line under study ends with the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste and the traumatic events that unfolded. At the same time, Shepherd is also well aware of the textu‐ al devices anthropologists use to elide or deflect the rupture of unsettling interactions and events, but even so, I felt his ghostly presence as the narrator made an odd contrast to the expository nature of the writing it‐ self. It reminded me of Clifford Geertz’s wry observa‐ tion on the genre of fieldwork reflections, being one of “crafted candour and public self-concealment” (Avail‐ able Light. Anthropological Reflections on Philosophic‐ al Topics. Princeton 2001). Andrew McWilliam ( Tacier-Eugster, Heidi: Das Museum Rietberg Zürich und Elsy Leuzinger. Vom Sehen und Wissen. Basel: Schwabe Verlag, 2019. 592 pp. ISBN 978-3-7965-3991- 6. Preis: € 96,00 Die Glarnerin Elsy Leuzinger (1910–2010) gehört zweifellos zu den Persönlichkeiten, die mit ihrem Wis‐ sen und ihrer Achtung vor außereuropäischen Kunst‐ werken, ihrer Begeisterung und Vermittlungsgabe Zü‐ richs Kultur- und Museumsszene entscheidend mitpräg‐ ten und bereicherten. Sie tat dies zunächst über mehr als zwei Jahrzehnte durch ihre Tätigkeit an der Sammlung für Völkerkunde (ab 1971 Völkerkundemuseum) der Universität Zürich, wo sie ab 1930 angestellt war und schon bald mit der Aufarbeitung bedeutender Afrika- Bestände betraut wurde, für wissenschaftliche Publika‐ tionen verantwortlich zeichnete und in Akquisitionsent‐ scheide involviert war. 1956 trat Leuzinger dann am Museum Rietberg die Nachfolge von Johannes Itten an und wurde zur zweiten Direktorin der erst vier Jahre zu‐ vor gegründeten, äußerst vielversprechenden Institution. Die Nominierung einer Frau als Leiterin, eine der ersten der Schweiz, war durchaus bemerkenswert und ist histo‐ risch bedeutsam. 1950 hatte Leuzinger mit einer Unter‐ suchung zum Schmuck afrikanischer Völker promo‐ viert, 1960 habilitierte sie sich und war neben ihrer Mu‐ seumsarbeit zunächst als Privatdozentin, in der Folge als Titularprofessorin für die Kunst außereuropäischer Völker an der Universität Zürich tätig. Die Leitung des Museum Rietberg hatte sie bis zu ihrer Pensionierung 1972 über eineinhalb Jahrzehnte inne. Heidi Tacier-Eugster leistet mit ihrer Untersuchung, die 2018 als Dissertation an der Universität Zürich an‐ genommen wurde, einen wichtigen Beitrag zu einem vertieften Verständnis der musealen Praxis – der Samm‐ lungs-, Forschungs- und Publikationstätigkeit, der Aus‐ stellungs- und Präsentationsformen wie auch des Ver‐ mittlungsansatzes – eines spezifischen Ortes und einer Book Reviews 279 Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.