This essay is one of more than a dozen in this volume to honor the late Mary Margaret Steedly. The paper’s theme is “spirits,” and reflects on how Steedly wove stories of encounters with spirits and mediums into an intricate matrix, thus revealing a space of a particular narrative experience. Each encounter pushes someone out of a comfort zone, thereby destabilizing a recognized identity, revealing the fragility of a boundary (“border between two worlds”), or undermining confidence in one’s understanding of something. While Steedly’s projects on spirit mediums and Indonesian supernaturalism are different and separated by twenty years, they complement each other. Attention to the supernatural offered her an unusual lens on the twists and turns of Indonesia’s historical transformation from a modernizing postcolonial nation to the mass-media-saturated, post-New Order era.
Volume & Issue:
Page range: 85-90
Cornell University Southeast Asia Program
reading order; unlocked