Accepted paper:

After the explosion: volcanos and their social perception on Lombok, Indonesia


Volker Gottowik (Frankfurt University)

Paper short abstract:

The landscape of the Indonesian island of Lombok has been shaped by an active volcano and its explosion in historical times. This paper deals with local explanations of this disaster and its impacts on social relations on this island.

Paper long abstract:

One of the major disasters in the history of mankind occurred in AD 1257/58, when a huge volcano exploded on the Indonesian island of Lombok. Large amounts of ash were ejected into the stratosphere causing a solar eclipse, a fall in temperature and crop failures in Europe and the destruction of wide parts of Lombok and neighboring islands like Sumbawa and Bali. However, this disaster formed an impressive landscape consisting of Mount Rinjani (3726m) with a dark shining crater lake and a new volcano emerging from the middle of this lake. This spectacular landscape is considered to be the abode of the gods and the sacred center of Lombok by almost all ethnic and religious groups on this island. In particular, Sasaks and Balinese, Muslims and Hindus go there for pilgrimage, and through prayers, offerings and sacrifices they contribute to the reconciliation between god, man and the environment and the prevention of further disasters. In this way communalities between Muslim-Sasaks and Hindu-Balinese were expressed, renewed and created which form the background for an equal sharing and sustainable use of this volcanic landscape. However, this collaboration is being challenged as the consequences of the disaster become increasingly manageable and socio-religious groups more oriented towards global trends. Following these trends, the social consensus about the forces behind the initial disaster is being contested as is, consequently, the sacred character of Mount Rinjani. Against this background, new perspectives for the exploitation of this area emerge which transform social relations on Lombok.

panel P095
Living with disasters: hazards, continuity and change