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Dr Catherine Allerton


catherine allertonCatherine Allerton is a specialist in the anthropology of island Southeast Asia, with research interests in children and childhoods, migration, kinship, place and landscape. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in a two-placed village in Flores, Indonesia and in the capital city of Sabah, East Malaysia.

Catherine’s current research explores experiences of exclusion, belonging and potential statelessness amongst the children of Indonesian and Filipino refugees and migrants in Sabah, East Malaysia. This involved a year of ESRC-funded fieldwork in the city of Kota Kinabalu. A book on this project, provisionally entitled Illegal children? is currently in progress, as is an edited volume on ethnographic research with children. Some of the pictures and stories collected from children in Sabah can be seen in the exhibition ‘Childhood in the Migrant City’, in the corridors of the LSE Anthropology department, and online at www.childrenofmigrationsabah.com.

Catherine’s earlier research was conducted in rural Manggarai, in the west of the Indonesian island of Flores, resulting in a number of articles and a book, Potent Landscapes: Place and Mobility in Eastern Indonesia (2013). This research analyses the many scales and consequences of entanglement between people and places in a society of ‘agricultural animists’, and explores the mobility that is central to Manggarai landscapes and kinship. In addition to her work on the power of place, Catherine has also written on comparative spiritual landscapes of Southeast Asia, the lives of unmarried Manggarai women, hospitality, cosmetics, sarongs, tourism and schooling.

Selected publications

Forthcoming. 'Introduction: Encountering Children' and 'Guide to Further Reading.' In Catherine Allerton (ed.) Children: Ethnographic Encounters. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Forthcoming. ' "Difficult" Children: Ethnographic Chaos and Creativity in Migrant Malaysia.' In Catherine Allerton (ed.) Children: Ethnographic Encounters. Londn: Bloomsbury Academic.

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

     "No Comment" (Bobby,13)

        Ine Kata planting corn 

Ame Alo in his sweet potato field

A ritual for forest spirits