• Collaborative Research Centre 990:Ecological and socioeconomic functions of tropical lowland rainforest transformation systems (Sumatra, Indonesia)
    Anthropological Project (C03): Culture-Specific Human Interaction with Tropical Lowland Rainforests in Transformation in Jambi, Sumatra

    Project Director: Prof. Dr. Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin
    Research Associate: Dr. Stefanie Steinebach

    duration: 2012-2015


    The research sites in Jambi, Harapan Rainforest and Bukit Duabelas, are characterized by various forest transformation systems: forest conservation areas, small scale agriculture, jungle rubber, rubber plantations, palm oil plantations. These sites are inhabited by socio-cultural groups of different origin and with diverse livelihood systems: village-based autochthonous Melayu and Jambi Melayu people, forest based Orang Rimba and Bathin Sembilan people as well as migrants and transmigrants, sometimes with a semi-urban background, from other islands (Steinebach 2009). The anthropological project deals with cultural diversity in Jambi and people’s differing interactions with tropical rainforests These interactions range from substantial dependency on the forest (hunter and gatherers) to occupancy of niches involving some level of forest use (e.g. combined with shifting cultivation) up to deforestation for other types of land use (agriculture, plantations) or forest conservation.
    The anthropological project (C03) aims at identifying the major encompassing cultural factors that influence decision making processes in regard to forests and their transformation from a comparative perspective on the one hand. This will be done by considering the interplay of various factors such as religion, social organization including gender, economics, norms, politics, knowledge, formal education as well as expectations and hopes people have for their future; to explore peoples' own awareness and point of view will be an important asset. On the other hand, the project will investigate the effects the transformation of tropical lowland rainforest and associated regulations have on the people, their attitudes to tropical lowland rainforest and their culture in general.
    The theoretical framework of this project is provided by approaches from environmental anthropology that investigates human-environment relations from a constructivist perspective and defines nature as a social category (Soper 1996).

    Working program:

    Fieldwork will be carried out with different cultural groups across different transformation systems. The locations will be chosen in cooperation with the other scientific projects in this CRC.
    The project will be carried out in two steps (survey and subsequent in-depth studies) in cooperation with several Indonesian junior scholars (assistants) who will work in different sites (multi-sited ethnography; see Marcus 1998). Quantitative and qualitative methods will be applied, including participatory rapid rural appraisal, participant observation and different forms of interviews as well as archive studies.

  • Research Group:
    The Constituting of Cultural Property: Actors, Discourses, Contexts, Rules

  • Projects 2011 - 2014:

    Cultural Heritage in Indonesia: Sovereignty of Indigenes Groups, the State and International Organizations

    Project Director: Prof. Dr. Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin
    Research Associate:
    Serena Müller, M.A.
    Dr. Fadjar Thufail , Jakarta, Research Fellow

    During the first phase of the project ( see below “Trans-cultural Authorship, Copyright and Film. The Case of Funeral Rituals among the Toraja in Sulawesi, Indonesia”, and “Processes of Constituting „World Heritage“ and their Meaning in Cambodia") it became apparent that cultural property and/or cultural heritage of local groups in the context of the UNESCO-nominations is frequently decided on and interpreted by the executive branch of a state and its experts. Feedback from the local level rarely happens. However, today, there are parallel but dissimilar discussions in the areas of preservation and revitalization of ‘culture’ in Indonesia. These orient themselves on international agreements, but especially on the United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous People of 2007, which led to an empowerment of indigenous peoples. 1163 adat-communities in Indonesia have joined to form the NGO Aliansi masyarat adat Nusantara (AMAN, alliance of adat-communities in Indonesia), which operates independently of state structures, receives money from international organizations and networks with transnational indigenous movements. Being labeled as an “indigenous group” with specific cultural endowment (“cultural heritage”) gives them a brand new range of possible actions. These possible actions of the indigenous people and/or the groups of the population that view themselves as such and have joined together in AMAN, their relationships to each other, to international organizations, to NGOs and to the Indonesian state will be the objects of study in the new project.

    Controversial collections: Diverging claims on Property in Debates and Negotiations 40 years after passing the UNESCO-Convention on Illegal Transfer of Cultural Goods

    Project Directors:
    Prof. Dr. Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin(Ethnologie)
    Prof. Dr. Tobias Stoll (Völkerrecht)
    Research Associate:
    Anne Splettstößer, M.A.
    Alper Tasdelen
    Dr. Keiko Miura, Tokyo, Research Fellow

    In the first phase of the project (see below “Processes of Constituting „World Heritage“ and their Meaning in Cambodia” ), the processes of the validation of archaeological-historical monuments (sacramental architecture) as UNESCO world heritage and the regional and/or local consequences were studied on the example of Cambodia (Angkor and Preah Vihear). In this interdisciplinary project, the problems arising with the return of mobile cultural goods are to be studied. Many cultural goods, especially ethnographic and archaeological collections, came to be in museums and private collections in Europe or the USA during colonial times or thereafter, by – today – questionable means. On international and national level, discourse, practices and institutes of law that deal with demanding the return of cultural goods are to be studied; the deficits derived from these rulings and possibilities of reaching joint solutions from unclear cases are also to be discussed. On the basis of Germany’s joining the 1970 UNESCO convention against illegal trafficking of cultural goods in 2007, on a national level, we will study how ethnologists in museums deal with these new conditions on a day-to-day basis. On the local level we plan to analyze what the evacuation of sacred art means for a local population today, their religious practices and their identity, using the example of the Khmer.

    Projects 2008 - 2011:
  • Processes of Constituting „World Heritage“ and their Meaning in Cambodia

    Project Director: Prof. Dr. Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin (Ethnology)
    Research Associate:
    Aditya Eggert, M.A.
    Dr. Keiko Miura (Tokyo), Research Fellow
    Dr. Baromey Neth (Phnom Penh), Research Fellow

    Working with examples from Cambodia, this ethnological project focuses on processes that bring or have already brought forth UNESCO world heritage. The temple complex of Angkor was proclaimed an endangered world heritage site by UNESCO already in 1992 is the first case; the temple complex of Preah Vihear on the border of Cambodia and Thailand was nomainted in 2008 and is our second example. The third case concerns a form of intangible culture whicht he Cambodian government is currently considering for nomination.

    Angkor, located in the district of Siemreap, was uncovered by French archeologists, This Hindu Buddhist site suffered great losses during the Vietnam War and due to the international art dealings of that era. The project inquires what consequences and meaning this site has for people who now live in this world heritage region which – due to the UNESCO status – has new protective zoning laws. The site has become an internationally attractive tourism destination. We will research the different groups of actors and their differential agency, and their complementary as well as competitive interests and power on the local, regional, national, inter- and transnational level (carried out by research fellows Dr. Keiko Miura, Japan and Dr. Baromey Neth, Cambodia).

    Similarly, processes of constituting world heritage and associated rights can be observed in our second example. The nomination of the temple complex of Preah Vihea resulted in heavy border skirmishes between Cambodia and Thailand. There is a long history surrounding this embattled border (drawn by the French colonial power at the beginning of the 20th century), but the nomination reignited memories and the antagonism has reached new dimensions (carried out by Prof. Dr. Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin).

    The Cambodian interest to seek a UNESCO nomination for a facet of intangible culture, finally, offers an opportunity to observe different groups of actors engaged in constituting heritage and ethnographically accompany processes of selection, decision making and dossier documentation in statu nascendi (carried out by Aditya Eggert, M.A.).

  • Trans-cultural Authorship, Copyright and Film. The Case of Funeral Rituals among the Toraja in Sulawesi, Indonesia

    Project Director: Prof. Dr. Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin (Ethnology)
    Co-Project Director: Dr. Beate Engelbrecht
    Research Associate: Dr.des Karin Klenke

    The reserach project focuses on the efforts of the Toraja in Sulawesi, Indonesia, to achieve UNESCO world heritage status for their cultural heritage. Known for its traditionally, richly decorated houses, one Toraja village had made an initial attempt to achieve such a certification. The regional UNESCO commission considered this application not sufficiently representative for the Toraja people and suggested instead that ten Toraja villages ought to draft an application for nomination as a cultural landscape as this would likely have bigger chances of success. A UNESCO cultural landscape entails a culturally shaped region including the entire way of life practiced. The form of subsistence (wet rice agriculture), burial practices in the cliffs, architecture and carving as well as rituals all form part of this specific cultural landscape. The research project documents the negotiations arising from this new effort on the local, regional and national level. We focus on different conceptions of property, authorship, inheritance and belonging as well as competing claims associated with such concepts.

    The project emphasizes, furthermore, the meaning of film as a medium of representation as well as a method of generating data. We will film processes of discussion and negotation among actors in the villages as well as within national committees, so as to permit a detailed analysis. Film will also be used to investigate which aspects of their culture the Toraja choose themselves to suggest for UNESCO certification. Also of interest is the question how the Toraja seek to represent their culture through film (“indigenous filmmaking” practices). In addition, an ethnographic film will be made, in collaboration with Toraja actors, on aspects of their cultural landscape application for UNESCO (carried out by Dr. Beate Engelbrecht).