Back to listing

Centre affiliate Simon Musgrave on "Placename narratives and identity in the north east of Ambon Island", 27 May 2015

Australian National University

Date: 27 May 2015

When: 4pm, 27 May 2015

Where: HRC Seminar room, AD Hope Building, The Australian National University

Who: Simon Musgrave, School of Languages, literatures, Cultures and Linguistics, Monash University

What: Placename narratives and identity in the north east of Ambon Island

Ambon Island in the Central Maluku region of Eastern Indonesia has a long history of contact with non-indigenous cultures. During the seventeenth century, the Dutch colonizers caused many inland villages on Ambon to relocate to the coast, including a group of villages in the north-eastern corner of the Island: Tulehu, Tengah-tengah and Tial. In these villages, traditional narratives which tell of the origins of the villages are still current. A central feature in these narratives is an account of how the villages came to have their names. None of these narratives mention the European presence or its role in the relocation of the communities. Instead, the narratives seek to construct identities for the communities based on relations to natural phenomena such as bird cries and the sea. This paper examines linguistic aspects of several such narratives to show how ideas of place and identity are imagined in these communities and contrasts this with the contemporaneous Dutch account of Rumphius (1678). The comparison highlights the way in which the indigenous narratives construct identity in terms of communities rather than individuals and with a clear relation to the natural world rather than in relation to human activity.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University