What can wonder engender in terms of religious, political, and broader social practice? Thinkers from Plato to Martin Heidegger and Cornelius Castoriadis; surrealists such as Andre Breton and Pierre Mabille; and most recently the religious philosopher Mary-Jane Rubenstein have all explored the ways that wonder is not articulated once and for all, but continuously worked upon. This book engages with anthropological explorations of wonder, responding to recent work by Michael W. Scott in order to bring the weight, colour, scent and sound of real ethnographic encounters to new ways of thinking about wonder. The question for contributors is how wonder works as an index of challenges to the known, the moral, the true, and the real. The case studies reveal how probing wonder can bring us closer to understanding the formation of social institutions as various ‘modalities of wonder’ destabilize old forms and articulate new ones.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the Journal of Religious and Political Practice.
Table of Contents
Introduction Jaap Timmer and Matt Tomlinson
1.The wonder of cloacal creation from myth to MONA Deborah van Heekeren
2.Wonders and tremors in the aftershocks of high energy physics Rachel Morgain
3.Wondrous geographies and historicity for state-building on Malaita, Solomon Islands Nathan Bond and Jaap Timmer
4.Fear and wonder out bush: engaging a critical anthropological perspective on indigenous alterity Eve Vincent
5.Try the spirits: power encounters and anti-wonder in Christian missions Matt Tomlinson
6.Clearing curses and commanding crocodiles: observations of atypical events in rural Solomon Islands Benjamin R. Hall
7.Uncertain encounters with wild elephants in Assam, Northeast India Paul G. Keil
8.Getting more real with wonder: an afterword Michael W. Scott
Jaap Timmer is Senior Lecturer and Director of the Master of Research program in the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University, Australia. He is the author of Living with Intricate Futures: Order and Confusion in Imyan Worlds, Irian Jaya, Indonesia (2000). His current interest is in the anthropology of the state, theocracies, and historicity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Matt Tomlinson is Associate Professor in the Departments of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo and the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. He is the author of In God’s Image: The Metaculture of Fijian Christianity (2009) and Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance (2014).