Monsters are culturally meaningful across the world. Starting from this key premise, this book tackles monsters in the context of social change. Writing in a time of violent upheaval, when technological innovation brings forth new monsters while others perish as part of the widespread extinctions that signify the Anthropocene, contributors argue that putting monsters at the center of social analysis opens up new perspectives on change and social transformation. Through a series of ethnographically grounded analyses they capture monsters that herald, drive, experience, enjoy, and suffer the transformations of the worlds they beleaguer. Topics examined include the evil skulking new roads in Ancient Greece, terror in post-socialist Laos’s territorial cults, a horrific flying head that augurs catastrophe in the rain forest of Borneo, benign spirits that accompany people through the mist in Iceland, flesh-eating giants marching through neo-colonial central Australia, and ghosts lingering in Pacific villages in the aftermath of environmental disasters. By taking the proposition that monsters and the humans they haunt are intricately and intimately entangled seriously, this book offers unique, cross-cultural perspectives on how people perceive the world and their place within it. It also shows how these experiences of belonging are mediated by our relationships with the other-than-human.
Table of Contents
List of FiguresAcknowledgementsContributor biographiesIntroduction: Monsters and Change, Yasmine Musharbash and Geir Henning Presterudstuen1. Monsters and Fear of Highway Travel in Ancient Greece and Rome, Debbie Felton2. Gods as Monsters: Insatiable Appetites, Exceeding Interpretations and A Surfeit of Life, Indira Arumugam3. Pangkarlangu, Wonder, Extinction, Yasmine Musharbash4. Decline and Resilience of Eastern Penan Monsters, Mikael Rothstein5. Monster Mash: What Happens When Aboriginal Monsters are Co-Opted into the Mainstream, Christine Judith Nicholls6. Margt býr í þokunni – What Dwells in the Mist? Helena Onnudottir and Mary Hawkins7. Bird/Monsters and Contemporary Social Fears in the Central Desert of Australia, Georgia Curran8. The Nine-Night Siege: Kurdaitcha at the Interface of Warlpiri/Non-Indigenous Relations, Joanne Thurman9. Monsters, Place, and Murderous Winds in Fiji, Geir Henning Presterudstuen10. Terror and the Territory Cults: Pregnancy and Power in Monsoon Asia, Holly High11. Drawing in the Margins: My Son’s Arsenal of Monsters – (Autistic) Imagination and the Cultural Capital of Childhood, Rozanna LilleyAfterword: Scenes from the Monsterbiome, Michael Dylan FosterBibliography Index
Yasmine Musharbash is Senior Lecturer at Australian National University, Australia.Geir Henning Presterudstuen is Lecturer at Western Sydney University, Australia.