The spiritual commons: Some immaterial aspects of community economies in eastern Indonesia



Informed by anthropologist Stephen Gudeman’s dialect between the interacting realms of community and market economies, I seek in this article to focus on aspects of the commons and the shared values of a community that might be referred to as the ‘spiritual commons’. The phrase speaks specifically to the ideas and practices that guide the ritual and spiritual elements of social life. I argue that the spiritual commons is not a realm set apart from economic life but integral to its reproduction. Gift exchange, sacrifice and commensality enacted as expressions of religious sociality represent economies of symbolic goods that serve both material and ideational ends. The article draws upon ethnographies of eastern Indonesia and the comparative possibilities expressed in case studies from Islamic southeast Sulawesi and Catholic Flores.