RITUAL PREPARATION FOR LIVING Education in the social memory of an eastern Indonesian people

David Butterworth

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    In the childhood rite of passage, lodong mé, performed by the Krowé people from Flores island in eastern Indonesia, infants are introduced for the first time to the implements that will be important for their future working life. Customarily, females are given instruction in the use of weaving equipment and males a machete, but nowadays it is increasingly popular for both genders to use a ballpoint pen and to mimic the act of writing. The Krowé state that during this ritual children learn practical skills and a diligent work ethic concomitant with the particular tool to which they are exposed, and the pen is now seen to portend a prosperous professional career. With reference to this rite of passage I examine transformations in the Krowé social memory of education that have taken root during their engagement with Dutch colonial, Catholic and Indonesian administrations and which are being expressed in contemporary ritual practice. Drawing on ecological theories of mind and a comparative Austronesian perspective on Krowé ritual and religion, I argue that the lodong mé concurrently incorporates and affects change in Krowé valorisations of learning and livelihoods, and as such is a key event in the construction of their social memory of education.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)49-67
    JournalIndonesia and the Malay World
    Issue number113
    Publication statusPublished - 2011


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