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Contrasting acoustical signatures and the power in ritual: Nuaulu spirit healing in the Moluccan islands

Ellen, Roy F. (2019) Contrasting acoustical signatures and the power in ritual: Nuaulu spirit healing in the Moluccan islands. In: Porath, Nathan, ed. Hearing Southeast Asia: sounds of hierarchy and power in context. NIAS Studies in Asian Topics . NIAS Press, Copenhagen, pp. 174-201. ISBN 978-87-7694-261-8. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:75903)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
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Abstract

Different kinds of Nuaulu ritual activity are accompanied by distinctive acoustical signatures that can be separated out from a more synesthetic profile of sensory experience. The main ceremonial cycles of maturation and sacred house-building are punctuated by rituals where the role of sound is predictable and consistent with highly-structured and pre-planned actions and exchanges. These events reinforce a model of conventional Austronesian hierarchical relations of power and precedence within and between clans and houses, and between houses and their ancestral guardians. By contrast, shamanic séances (while involving some of the symbolic practices shared by other rituals) allow for more informality and spontaneity. This is no better evident than in the accompanying sounds: the intermittent sonorousness of the bamboo mouth harp used to summon spirits, the utterances and para-linguistic features of shamanic speech behaviour, and the sometimes alarming and unpredictable acoustical consequences of bodily movement. I suggest that these sessions, in addition to the healing purposes that they serve, provide a kind of counterpoint of anti-structure that reinforces the importance of structure and of predictable power relations in the major rituals that reproduce Nuaulu life. Séances send ambivalent messages. They are necessary to communicate with the spirit world, but at the same time are an ever-present reminder of the potential for existential chaos. Much of Nuaulu ritual activity can be seen as a way of keeping such unpredictable forces in check.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Nuaulu Moluccas Indonesia sound spirit healing power
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Social and Cultural Anthropology
Depositing User: Roy Ellen
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2019 16:14 UTC
Last Modified: 21 Aug 2019 10:44 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/75903 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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