Robert J. Foster
Professor and Chair
Thomas P. Gibson
Anthropologists in Other Departments
Noelle C. Andrus
Nancy Fried Foster
Director of Anthropological Research
Thomas P. Gibson
Editor, Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture Series
Office: Lattimore 439, Telephone: (585) 275-8739
Professor Gibson received his B.Sc. and Ph.D. from the London School of Economics. Before coming to Rochester, he taught at Manchester and Cambridge Universities. He has carried out fieldwork in the Philippines (1979-81, 1985) and Indonesia (1988, 1989, 2000, 2006), and library research in the Netherlands (1994). Support for his research was provided by a grant from the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation and by a Fulbright Fellowship. His work on the Philippines was published in a series of articles and in a monograph, Sacrifice and Sharing in the Philippine Highlands: Religion and Society among the Buid of Mindoro (Athlone Press 1986). His work on Indonesia has appeared in a series of articles and in a series of monographs, the first two of which have appeared as And the Sun Pursued the Moon: Symbolic Knowledge and Traditional Authority Among the Makassar (Hawaii 2005) and Islamic Narrative and Authority in Southeast Asia from the 16th to the 21st Centuries (Palgrave 2007). A third monograph, Ritual and Self-Knowledge in Southeast Asia, will analyze the relationship between the twelve different models of the polity outlined in the first two volumes and the equally diverse models of the inner self embedded in life-cycle rituals. A final volume will contain annotated translations of the myths, oral epics and written chronicles that formed the basis for the analyses carried out in the first three monographs.
Ph.D., Social Anthropology, London School of Economics
Dissertation: Religion, Kinship and Society Among the Buid of Mondoro, Philippines1978
B.Sc., Social Anthropology with First Class Honours, London School of Economics
ACADEMIC AND ADMINISTRATIVE POSITIONS
2005 - 2008 Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Rochester 2001 - 2002 Visiting Fellow, Southeast Asia Program, Cornell University 1995 - 2001 Chair, Department of Anthropology, University of Rochester
List of Current Courses
ANT 203: Ritual, Myth and Scripture
ANT 270: Radical Social Theory
List of Past Courses
ANT 101: Cultural Anthropology
ANT 104: Contemporary Issues and Anthropology
ANT 202: Modern Social Theory: Key Texts and Issues
ANT 262: Culture and Religion in the Indian Ocean
ANT 264: Islam and Global Politics
ANT 304: Advanced Topic Seminar: Alternative Modernities
|2007||Islamic Narrative and Authority in Southeast Asia from the 16th to the 21st Century. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Press|
|2005||And The Sun Pursued the Moon: Symbolic Knowledge and Traditional Authority Among The Makassar. University of Hawaii Press|
|1986||Sacrifice and Sharing in the Philippine Highlands: Religion and Society among the Buid of Mindoro. London School of Economics Monographs on Social Anthropology No. 58 London: The Athlone Press|
MONOGRAPHS IN PREPARATION
|Ritual and Self Knowledge in Southeast Asia. Manuscript completed.|
War and Peace in Southeast Asia. Manuscript completed.
Narratives of Authority and Rebellion: Makassar Texts, Translations and Commentaries. In progress.
|2005||“From humility to lordship in Island Southeast Asia.” In (eds) Thomas Widlok and Wolde Gossa Tadesse Property and Equality Volume II: Encapsulation, Commercialisation, Discrimination. New York: Berghahn Books.|
|2000||“Islam and the spirit cults in New Order Indonesia: global flows vs. local knowledge.” Indonesia 69: 41-70.|
|1995||“Having your house and eating it: houses and siblings in Ara, South Sulawesi.” In (eds) Janet Carsten and Stephen Hugh-Jones About the House: Buildings, Groups, and Categories in Holistic Perspective. Essays on an idea by C. Lévi-Strauss. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.|
|1994||“Childhood, colonialism and fieldwork among the Buid of the Philippines and the Konjo of Indonesia.” In (eds) Jeannine Koubi and Josiane Massard, Enfants et sociétés d’Asie du Sud-Est. Paris: L’Harmattan.|
|1994||“Ritual and revolution: contesting the state in central Indonesia.” In Social Analysis 35: 61-83.|
|1994||“Concluding reflections on units of analysis in the study of the official and the popular.” In Social Analysis 35: 157-164.|
|1990||“Raiding, trading and tribal autonomy in insular Southeast Asia.” In The Anthropology of War (ed) Jonathan Haas. New York: Cambridge University Press.|
|1989||“Collective ritual as a model for corporate economic activity among the Buid of Mindoro.” In Changing Lives, Changing Rites: Ritual and Social Dynamics in Philippine and Indonesian Uplands (eds) Susan D. Russell and Clark E. Cunningham. Michigan Studies of South and Southeast Asia, No. 1. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Center for South and Southeast Asian Studies.|
|1989||“Symbolic representations of tranquility and aggression among the Buid.” In Societies at Peace (eds) Roy Willis and Signe Howell. London: Routledge.|
|1988||“Meat sharing as political ritual: forms of transaction vs modes of subsistence.” In Hunters and Gatherers, Vol. II: Property, Power and Ideology (eds) T. Ingold, D. Riches and J. Woodburn. London: Berg Publishers.|
|1985||“The sharing of substance versus the sharing of activity among the Buid.” Man 20 (3): 391-411.|
For thirty years my research has been driven by the need to continually enlarge both the temporal and spatial scale within which I interpret data I have collected while conducting anthropological fieldwork and historical research in Southeast and South Asia. My first project (British Museum/ICERD 1978-1985) concerned the relationship between the development of extremely egalitarian and pacifist values among the Buid, a society of shifting cultivators in the Philippine highlands and their historical experience of exploitation at the hands of Christian and Muslim societies in the Philippine lowlands. This led to the publication of my first monograph, Sacrifice and Sharing in the Philippine Highlands.
My second project (H.F.Guggenheim 1985-1988) was a comparative study of attitudes toward violence and aggression among shifting cultivators throughout Southeast Asia. The results were published in a volume that resulted from a School of American Research Advanced Seminar on The Anthropology of War.
My third project (H.F.Guggenheim 1988-2005) was a study of the formation of predatory states among the Makassar of South Sulawesi, Indonesia in the context of trade relations around the Java Sea between 600 and 1600 CE. It led to the publication of my second monograph, And the Sun Pursued the Moon: Symbolic Knowledge and Traditional Authority among the Makassar. In this book I showed that egalitarian societies that of the Buid and ranked societies like that of the Makassar had to be understood as semi-autonomous parts of a loosely integrated regional political economy.
My fourth project (Fulbright 1994-2007) examined the development of Islamic states in Southeast Asia from 1300 CE to the present in the context of trade relations around the Indian Ocean. It resulted in the publication of my third monograph, Islamic Narrative and Authority in Southeast Asia from the 16th to the 21st Century. In this book I analyze the shifting relationships among social, political and religious centers of authority in the region as Islamic sultanates gave way to mercantilist enterprises like the VOC, and then to bureaucratic colonial and national states. An electronic version of this book has been made available by the publisher, Palgrave, to academic libraries. This book was awarded an Honorable Mention for the second annual Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of Religion.
One of my current projects (ACLS/SSRC/NEH 2008-2009) turns from the macro-sociological study of political economy to the micro-sociological study of the role played by life cycle rituals in the reproduction of noble houses, of Islamic devotional practices in the formation of ethical individuals and of mass schooling in the creation of national citizens. In a forthcoming monograph on Ritual Knowledge and Social Movements in Islamic Southeast Asia, I will examine the political implications of the interactions that occur among these different kinds of self.
A second current project (Mellon Foundation 2007-2009) extends my understanding of the relationship between Islamic practices and social movements in the world’s largest Muslim country, Indonesia, to the Indian Ocean as a whole. I initiated this project by co-organizing a three-day workshop on Religion & Culture in the Indian Ocean Region, 1800-Present held at Cornell University on 3-5 October, 2008. I am negotiating with two monograph series on the Indian Ocean (Routledge and Hurst-Columbia) to publish the proceedings of this conference as an edited volume.
A third current project marks a return to my original interest in the indigenous societies of highland Southeast Asia that have successfully resisted domination by their predatory lowland neighbors. I organized a panel on this topic with Kenneth Sillander (Helsinki) and Charles Macdonald (CNRS/Princeton) at the 2009 Association for Asian Studies meetings. Professor Sillander and I edited a volume based on this panel that we were invited to submit to the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute for a special issue with the title Anarchic Solidarity: Autonomy, Equality and Familiarity in Island Southeast Asia. We will know in December 2009 whether it has been accepted.
A fourth current project extends my comparative framework north to Taiwan, where I recently spent some time lecturing at Tsing Hua University and at the Taiwan National University on the social and cultural commonalities that can be identified among speakers of languages belonging to the Austronesian family, a family whose members are found in Madagascar, Island Southeast Asia, Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. I am participating in a series of three annual workshops on this topic organized by Professor Ku Kun-hui of Tsing Hua University as part of the annual meetings of the Association for the Social Anthropology of Oceania. This series will result in a comparative monograph.
Finally, I have been engaged in making my publications accessible to an Indonesian audience by way of a series of translations to be published by Ininnawa Press, based in Makassar, South Sulawesi. And the Sun Pursued the Moon has now appeared under the title of Kekuasaan Raja, Syeikh, dan Ambtenaar: Pengetahuan Simbolik dan Kekuasan Tradisional Makassar 1300-2000. The translator, Nurhady Sirimorok has begun work on Islamic Narrative. I am also engaged in negotiations with the Ateneo de Manila University Press to publish an updated edition of my book on the Buid of Mindoro, both in English and in Pilipino translation, as well as a collection of my less accessible articles on the Philippines. I have always written my books with a Southeast Asian audience in mind, and I intend to make every effort to make future volumes I write or edit available in affordable editions in Southeast Asia and South Asia as relevant.