Publication details

The Indigenization of Catholicism on Flores. In: dies. (Hg.): Christianity in Indonesia, S.90-105.

Book chapter
Author(s): Schröter, Susanne
Year of publication: 2010

Abstract: From the very outset of European expansion, scholars have been preoccupied with the impact of proselytization and colonization on non-European societies. Anthropologists such as Margaret Mead and Bronislaw Malinowski, who witnessed these processes at the beginning of the twentieth century while at the same time benefitting from the colonial structure, were convinced that the autochthonous societies could not possibly withstand the onslaught of the dominant European cultures, and thus were doomed to vanish in the near future. The fear of losing their object of research, which had just recently been discovered, hung above the heads of the scholars like a sword of Damocles ever since the establishment of anthropology as a discipline. They felt hurried to document what seemed to be crumbling away. Behind these fears there was the notion that the indigenous cultures were comparatively static entities that had existed untouched by any external influences for many centuries, or even millennia, and were unable to change. This idea was shared by proponents of other disciplines; in religious studies, for example, up to the late 1980s the view prevailed that the contact between the great world religions and the belief systems of small, autochthonous societies doomed the latter to extinction. However, more recent studies have shown that this assumption, according to which indigenous peoples have not undergone any changes in the course of history, is untenable. It became apparent that groups supposedly living in isolation have extensive contact networks, and that migration, trade, and conquest are not privileges of modern times. Myths and oral traditions bore witness of journeys to faraway regions, new settlements founded in unknown territories, or the arrival of victorious foreigners who introduced new ways and customs and laid claim to a place of their own within society.

Keywords: Indonesia, Christianity, Indigenization, Catholicism, Ngada

Subject(s): ethnology

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