Beneath the Volcano : Religion, cosmology and spirit classification among the Nage of Eastern Indonesia

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Beneath the volcano is the first major account of the Nage, who inhabit the central part of Flores in eastern Indonesia. The book focuses on Nage ideas concerning a variety of spiritual beings and how these influence both ritual practices and ideas about human beings. In exploring these subjects, the author sets out to uncover a classification of spirits. While quite different from taxonomies of natural beings, Nage ways of linking named categories of spirits nevertheless reveal a regular conceptual order. In describing this order, use is made of a version of Dumont’s notion of  ‘encompassment’. Common ideas informing relations between Nage humans and several categories of spirits are further interpreted as instances of a pervasive principle of ‘symmetric inversion’, according to which human beings are spirits for the spirits. Gregory Forth is at present Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, Canada.

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