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Distributed for National University of Singapore Press

Stone Masters

Power Encounters in Mainland Southeast Asia

A new analytical perspective on stones and stone masters across Southeast Asia that extends and deepens the recent literature on animism. 

Stones and stone masters are an important focus of animist religious practice in Southeast Asia. Recent studies on animism see animist rituals not as a mere metaphor for community or shared values, but as a way of forming and maintaining relationships with occult presences. This book features city pillars, statues, megaliths, termite mounds, mountains, rocks found in forests, and stones that have been moved to shrines, as well as the territorial cults which can form around them. The contributors extend and deepen the recent literature on animism to form a new analytical perspective on these cults across mainland Southeast Asia. Not just a collection of exemplary ethnographies, Stone Masters is also a deeply comparative volume that develops its ideas through a meshwork of regional entanglements, parallels, and differences, before entering into a dialogue with debates on power, mastery, and the social theory of animism globally.

440 pages | 46 halftones, 3 tables | 6 x 9

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

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“A rare book: an organically integrated collection, with a strong theme. While is unapologetically ethnological, Stone Masters engages cosmopolitan anthropological theories with great effect. It has a depth which anthropologists of other areas, working on analogous themes, can feed on.”

Luiz Costa, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro

Table of Contents

List of figures and tables
Section I: Stone Theory
Chapter 1: Holly High: An introduction to Stone Masters
Chapter 2: John Clifford Holt: Theorizing ‘Stone Masters’: Revisiting Paul Mus
Chapter 3: Holly High: “They can see us but we can’t see them”: Power, deities, and presences of places in Sekong, Lao PDR
Chapter 4: Courtney Work: ‘The Dance of Life and Death: Social relationships with elemental power
Chapter 5: Paul-David Lutz: The State Has Come
Chapter 6: Benjamin Baumann: Masters of the Underground: Termite Mound Worship and the Mutuality of Chthonic and Human Beings in Thailand’s Lower Northeast
Chapter 7: Holly High: Lady Luck of the City: Myth and meaning at Vientiane’s city pillar
Chapter 9: Kazuo Fukurra: From Ritual Traditions to Spirit Mediumship: The Evolution of Pillar Worship in Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand
Chapter 10: Klemens Karlsson: Territory Cults and Power in the Eastern Shan State of Myanmar
Chapter 11: H?ng T. D. Ngô: The Mountain, the Masters and the Nation: Enduring Power Encounters at a Temple in Contemporary Vietnam?
Chapter 12: Penny Van Esterik: Afterword

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