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Ignition Stories: Indigenous Fire Ecology in the Indo-australian Monsoon Zone



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Carolina Academic Pr
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Indigenous fire ecologies generate dynamic socio-ecological systems via interpersonal relationships, meaningful encounters with fire, the movements of people and fire within landscapes, and individuals┐ interpretations of these three processes. Ignition stories are creative nonfiction narratives about the encounters between people and fire in the Kodi community on the island of Sumba in the Indo-Australian monsoon zone. The characters who populate this ethnography are connected together through their common Kodi ethnicity and language, through kinship and alliance, and through their island ecology. The lives of the Kodi women, men, and children who you will come to know as you read this book unfold in the context of an island with a 300,000 year history of natural fires and as many as 14,000 years of anthropogenic fires, and in the context of a Papuan-Austronesian culture who continues to struggle for the right to self-determination within the Indonesian nation-state and global frameworks for fire management.Because of the co-emergence of Kodi culture and the Sumbanese landscape, literal and figurative versions of fire are integrated with expressions of self and representations of other as well as everyday mundane and periodic spiritual practices. The findings of the research reported on in this book have implications for the bureaucratization of fire in the climate change era and the decentralization of government in 21st century post-colonial Southeast Asia. This ethnography draws on the humanities, through an interpretation of the experiential and performative dimensions of culture, as well as the social sciences, in the discernment of the sources of and patterns in human relationships, and brings in the ecological sciences through descriptions of island biogeography and the roles of fire within it. Social theory merges with ecological theory in Ignition Stories to show how culturally-specific senses of self and desires for life intersect with the fire driven cycles of disturbance and succession that create diverse micro-ecologies in the seasonally arid tropics. This book is part of the Ritual Studies Monograph Series, edited by Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh.

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