authority’, and not the
decline of religion per se. 53 He defines ‘a religious authority
structure as a social structure that attempts to enforce its order and reach its ends by controlling the access of
individuals to some desired goods, where the legitimation of that
control includes some supernatural component, however weak’. 54 His definition
does not question the religiosity of people themselves, but focuses upon
caliphs are understood in Islamic societies as rulers who implement and enforce Islamic law. They are not theologians. The duty of sultan and caliph is to make an observant life possible through the apparatus and power of the state. They channel the state’s resources to support Islamic scholars, judges, teachers, preachers and schools. Historically, they enabled and sustained the propagation of Islam and formation of a Muslim society in the territories under their command. In Malay chronicles, sultans are invested with sanctity, supernatural powers and magically charged
defending an old institution; the sultanates had to be radically reformed to survive.
At the outset, it must be stressed that Malay monarchy was not merely an important political institution in the societies of the Peninsula and Archipelago. The monarchs, not surprisingly, were believed to possess supernatural powers ( daulat ); more importantly, monarchy was the essential institution in these societies. The Malay, like the Burmese case, in fact offers support for anthropologist Louis Dumont’s reflections on the centrality of monarchy across Southeast
Negotiations at the end of British rule in the Shan States of Burma
and other minorities, a policy that, as is argued here, was not achieved during negotiations at the end of empire.
1 Myosa were known locally as ‘eaters of the town’ because of the taxes they levied.
2 James G. Scott, Burma, A Handbook of Practical Information (London: 1906, reprint Orchid Press, 1999).
3 Sir George Grierson, quoted in J. G. Scott, Burma and Beyond (London: Grayson and Grayson, 1932), p. 26.
4 Susan Conway, Tai Magic: Arts of the Supernatural in the Shan States and Lan Na (Bangkok: River Books, 2014).
(four vols, 1861) returned to the traditional idea of Islam as a Satanic force. ‘It is incumbent upon us’, Muir wrote, ‘to consider the question from a Christian point of view, and to ask whether the supernatural influence, which appears to have acted upon the soul of the Arabian Prophet, may not have proceeded from the Evil One and his emissaries’. 62 Where Christ had resisted Satan’s temptations, and refused to use his divine powers to establish a kingdom on earth, Muhammad was ‘beguiled’ by the devil and fraudulently used the name of God in the service of his
cause and a consequence of cultures that failed to produce productive,
introspective individuals. Unlike in European cultures, which valued
individuality, ambition and self-awareness, ethnopsychiatrists argued
that African cultures emphasised conformity, communalism and the
sublimation of the individual to the community and the supernatural. For
acclaimed ethnopsychiatrists like J.C. Carothers, the communally
Photographic encounters between Dutch and Indonesian royals
their local settings usually represented the supernatural or divine powers of Indigenous royals, in their Dutch palace and museums settings they were recast as tribute from overseas possessions commanded by the centripetal authority of a colonial monarchy.
While scholarly interest in traditional, courtly gifts from Indonesian royals has been entirely proportionate to their number in Dutch royal collections, as well as their value to both the givers and the recipients both then
by mission doctors
that healing was not a purely technological process, for faith in a cure
was often an important element in recovery. The mental transformation
that the missionaries demanded was therefore secular only to a degree,
for it also involved a radical restructuring of belief about the
supernatural in the process of healing. Whereas unreformed Bhils
deployed charms and exorcism to ward off
love, but evil permitted to intrude into the hidden springs of
things just so far as may suffice for its own deeper confusion
in the end, and, in the mean while, for the needful trial and
perfecting of God’s saints and servants. 6
Supernatural occurrences could not
therefore be taken as any proof of divine will. ‘A miracle does
individualistic religious practices of
hunters and gatherers and the communally-oriented priestly religions of
the sedentary Pueblos, despite the fact that both were based upon a
common foundation of belief about the nature of supernatural power and
the causes of disease. 39
Throughout the continent disease was thought to be caused
by soul loss, spirit possession, intrusive object, breach of tabu