Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of by Janet Hoskins

By Janet Hoskins

During this cutting edge research, six men and women from japanese Indonesia narrate their very own lives through speaking approximately their possessions; family items used to build a coherent identification via a strategy of identity and "self-historicizing." Janet Hoskins explores how issues are given biographical value, entangled in sexual politics, and expressed in dualistic metaphors the place the conventional differences among individual and item and feminine and male are drawn in unusual methods.

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Extra resources for Biographical Objects: How Things Tell the Stories of Peoples' Lives

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The insights that I try to privilege in this study focus on the narrative creation of the self through the vehicle of an object. A number of other theorists have argued that objects and subjects are mutually defined and reciprocally constitutive, and they have looked at moments of transaction and display (Munn 1986, Miller 1987) in which an object's exchange value is determined. The personal possessions I discuss in this work, while sometimes also involved in exchange, are more significant because of the ways they are remembered, hoarded, or used as objects of fantasy and desire.

How widespread is this preoccupation with possessions and gendered duality? This book does not go beyond my own ethnographic research in Kodi, but the idiom is certainly found throughout the island (Forth 1981, Kuipers 1990, 1998, Geirnaert-Martin 1992, Keane 1997) and in neighboring Timor and Flores. Writing about another district on Sumba, Kuipers records, "Listening to Weyewa talk about a powerful man or woman, one does not hear connected, temporally organized biographical narratives about events during a lifetime; instead one hears about clusters of belongings, radiating out, as it were, from a charismatic center" (1998: 155).

After his return to Kodi, officials of the local church invited him to work BIOGRAPHICAL OBJECTS with them as a village evangelist. He was able to translate the Malay Bible verses into Kodi ritual couplets, and these verbal skills were important in spreading the Word to isolated areas. In return be was given a small salary and a prestigious link with the authority of the Dutch Church. His work as an evangelist was restricted during the Japanese occupation, but afterward it continued for more than a decade, raking him throughout the district to explain the Christian view of the world and the laws set down by the church.

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