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Dr Catherine Allerton


catherine allertonCatherine Allerton is a specialist in the anthropology of island Southeast Asia. Her first periods of fieldwork, from 1997 to 2005, were in rural Manggarai, in the west of the Indonesian island of Flores. A recently-published book on this work, Potent Landscapes: Place and Mobility in Eastern Indonesia, explores the power of place, moving out in a series of concentric circles from small household rooms to houses, paths, fields, forests and resettled villages. It demonstrates the many scales and consequences of entanglement between people and places, and explores the mobility that is central to Manggarai landscapes and kinship.

Dr Allerton has also guest-edited a Special Edition of Anthropological Forum on 'Spiritual Landscapes of Southeast Asia', examining the impact of new religious forms, migration, politics and militarism on the varied spiritual landscapes of the region. In addition to her work on landscapes, Dr Allerton has also written on the lives of unmarried Manggarai women, hospitality, cosmetics, sarongs, tourism and schooling.

From August 2012 to September 2014, Dr Allerton was on research leave, working on an ESRC-funded project entitled “Childhood in the migrant city: Statelessness, exclusion and modes of belonging amongst children of irregular migrants and refugees in East Malaysia.” This involved a year of fieldwork in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, with the children of Filipino and Indonesian migrants.

Selected publications

2014. Statelessness and the Lives of the Children of Migrants in Sabah, East Malaysia. Tilburg Law Review. Special Issue on Statelessness. 19: 26-34.

2013. Potent Landscapes: Place and Mobility in Eastern Indonesia|. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

2012. Visible relations and invisible realms: speech, materiality and two Manggarai landscapes|. In Landscapes Beyond Land (eds) A. Arnason, N. Ellison, J. Vergunst and A. Whitehouse. Oxford: Berghahn, EASA Series.

2012. ‘Landscape, power and agency in Eastern Indonesia’ In Southeast Asian perspectives on power (eds) Liana Chua, Joanna Cook, Nicholas Long and Lee Wilson. London: Routledge, pp67-80.

2012. Making guests, making 'liveliness': The transformative substances and sounds of Manggarai hospitality|. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Special Issue, 'Returning to hospitality: Strangers, guests and ambiguous encounters' (eds) M. Candea and G. da Col. 18: S49-S62.

2009. Introduction: Spiritual Landscapes of Southeast Asia|. Anthropological Forum. Special Issue on "Spiritual Landscapes of Southeast Asia: Changing Geographies of Religion and Potency" Vol. 19 (3): 235 - 251.

2009. Static Crosses and Working Spirits: Anti-Syncretism and Agricultural Animism in Catholic West Flores|. Anthropological Forum. Special Issue on "Spiritual Landscapes of Southeast Asia: Changing Geographies of Religion and Potency" Vol. 19 (3): 271 - 287

2007. What does it mean to be alone? In Questions of Anthropology. Rita Astuti, Jonathan Parry and Charles Stafford (eds). Oxford: Berg.

2007. Lipsticked brides and powdered children: cosmetics and the allure of modernity in an eastern Indonesian village. In Body arts and modernity, Michael O'Hanlon and Elizabeth Ewart (eds). Wantage: Sean Kingston. 

2007. The secret life of sarongs: Manggarai textiles as super-skins|. Journal of Material Culture 12(1): 22-46. 

2004. The path of marriage: journeys and transformation in eastern Indonesia|. Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde (BKI) 160(2/3): 339-362.

2003. Authentic housing, authentic culture? Transforming a village into a "tourist site" in Manggarai, eastern Indonesia|. Indonesia and the Malay World 31(no. 89): 119-128.


Fieldwork Photos

Ine Kata planting corn 

Ame Alo in his sweet potato field

A ritual for forest spirits