Author:Isabell Herrmans (University of Helsinki)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper I look at how the curing rituals of the Luangan of Indonesian Borneo form relational landscapes through which they maintain relationships with a diversity of non-human beings in an environment which has undergone radical change.
Paper long abstract:
Belian curing rituals among the Luangans of Indonesian Borneo are described as paths along which offerings of respect and food are brought to the spirits. Like the paths along which the Luangans used to travel through and in the local rainforest environment, which quickly become overgrown with tangled secondary growth if not actively used, the paths that form Luangan ritual landscapes are created and maintained through continuous usage. Recurrent practice of rituals invokes and enacts relations with a diversity of non-human beings in the environment, and superimposes a ritual landscape upon the natural landscape. In 2011 palm oil companies entered the Luangan area, transforming the rainforest environment into palm oil plantations, while roads replaced forest paths and became scenes of unexpected encounters between humans and non-humans of different kinds. In this paper I look at how such radical environmental change affects the relations between human and non-human agents in the environment. I examine rituals as the main arena of negotiation of these relations, and suggest that the rituals enable the Luangan to (virtually) keep up relations with the various beings of the local rainforest environment, which does not, in many places, physically exist as such anymore.
Legacies and futures of animism in the anthropocene