Preliminary version of this paper were delivered at the Australian Anthropological Society Meeting at the University of New South Wales, 10–13 July, 1999, at a departmental seminar at the Anthropology Department, University of Sydney on 5 August, 1999 and at the 98th Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, Chicago, 17–20 November 1999. I am grateful to Michael Young for his illuminating comments on an early version of the paper. The anonymous referees for TAJA recommended some revision and alteration, which I have tried to address. I found Michael Allen's help and editorial skill regarding the final version of the paper invaluable.
Temporality of Post-mortem Divination and Divination of Post-mortem Temporality1
Version of Record online: 8 MAR 2010
© 2001 Australian Anthropological Society
The Australian Journal of Anthropology
Volume 12, Issue 1, pages 67–79, April 2001
How to Cite
Telban, B. (2001), Temporality of Post-mortem Divination and Divination of Post-mortem Temporality. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 12: 67–79. doi: 10.1111/j.1835-9310.2001.tb00063.x
- Issue online: 8 MAR 2010
- Version of Record online: 8 MAR 2010
When an Ambonwari person dies divination may be used to consult spirits as to the cause of death. Listening to the tapping of a bamboo pole—where the rhythm reflects totemic signals usually beaten on a slit-drum—a diviner examines the links between people's wrong doings and other past deeds and events. The aim of post-mortem divination is to reconstitute and rearrange the relationships between village clans, between clans and their land, between clans and their spirits, both of the dead and of the bush. The aim of divination is to place the events, deeds, relationships, historicity and temporality in good order again, to avoid chaotic unpredictability and the possibility of collective misfortune or even destruction. Though to a lesser degree than in initiation rituals, divination, by reordering and realigning social relationships, reconstructs society at its base. As with initiation, the aim of divination is to reconstruct time.