Files

Action Filename Size Access Description License
Show more files...

Abstract

A stone surrendered by a Muslim to a Christian on an urban battlefield in Ambon (Indonesia), circulated with stunning effect in a Christian prayer group. Within no time it infected this core scene of Christian worship and community, triggering illness and possession, turning the group’s prayers into a Qur’anic reading session and inserting the spectral presence of a North Moluccan sultan’s daughter into its midst. This scene is only the most dramatic instance of the promiscuous traffic in poisonous and protective objects across religious boundaries during the war that racked the Moluccan city and its surroundings from 1999 until the 2002 peace. It also attests to the often carefully policed difference between magic and religion at the time. From rosaries flaunted by Protestants aiming to pass as Catholics, magical amulets worn alongside tiny Qur’ans or Bibles into battle, and Jesus billboards emerging as brandmarks for Christian neighborhoods, the war fostered and witnessed an explosion of religious and occult technologies along with the objects through which these technologies operate. Of particular interest is the tension and interplay between the deployment of amulets, which often functioned as boundary markers, and the war torn terrain in which they appeared and occasionally went astray, betraying the intentions with which they were first set in motion. Attention to the capricious waywardness and mediating capacities of things as symptoms of profound crisis provides a point of departure for a larger symptomatology of crisis in which both the shape-shifting effects of objects and their taken-for-granted status as fixtures of everyday worlds are explored.

Details

Actions