Becoming – An Anthropological Approach to Understandings of the Person in Java

Becoming – An Anthropological Approach to Understandings of the Person in Java

By Konstantinos Retsikas

Anthem Southeast Asian Studies

The volume is an ethnographic monograph centring on the island of Java that also makes a singular contribution to the anthropological theorising of the person.

Paperback, 252 Pages


October 2014

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

‘Becoming – An Anthropological Approach to Understandings of the Person in Java’ falls within the long-standing tradition of anthropological theorising regarding the person, and takes inspiration from the philosophical writings of G. Deleuze. It comprises a critical intervention in the said literatures, develops new conceptual tools and reconfigures ‘old’ methodological strategies. As a thought experiment, it foregrounds and advances the concept of the ‘diaphoron’ person – a person who constantly differs from him/herself and who is always already involved in an unlimited process of becoming – as a new figure for considering the problem of the subject in anthropology. In addition, the book breathes new life into one of the most distinctive methodological strategies to be found in anthropology since its inception, re-invigorating the approach of ‘total ethnography’ in such a way that it is able to meet the challenges posed by living in a postmodern world.

The volume is also an ethnographic monograph based upon qualitative research undertaken in the town of Probolinggo in East Java, Indonesia. It is the first book-length ethnographic study of this part of Java and its peoples, who identify themselves as ‘mixed persons’. The volume not only serves as a source of new ethnographic data about a place and a situation we know very little about, but it also re-thinks key categories of Javanese ethnography from a new and unanticipated perspective.


‘Konstantinos Retsikas has written a comprehensive and complex book [which] opens up a number of new ways to understand the person and supplements these views with a distinct emphasis on forms of communication. […] “Becoming” is unquestionably worth reading, not only for young scholars but also for Javanologists and other academics interested in understanding the person as well as understanding Java and the person in Java.’ —Susanne Rodemeier, ‘South East Asia Research’

‘“Becoming – An Anthropological Approach to Understandings of the Person in Java” is a virtuoso and literally ground-breaking adaption of the work of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari for anthropological fieldwork. Kostas Retsikas demonstrates that there is a highly flexible and extremely useful methodological apparatus at the heart of Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalysis and doing so it opens a new theoretical door for the field of anthropology.’ —Ian Buchanan, editor of ‘Deleuze Studies’

Author Information

Konstantinos Retsikas is a lecturer at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at the School of Oriental and African Studies. His work focuses on Javanese ideas of the person, and he has written extensively on issues of embodiment, place making, violence and religion. He is currently working on a new research project on Islamic economics, charity and development practices.


Anthem Southeast Asian Studies

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; Acknowledgements; Prolegomenon; Chapter 1: The Becoming of Place: Moving, Clearing, Inhabiting; Chapter 2: The Perception of Difference: Embodying, Reversing, Encompassing; Chapter 3: The Blood of Affinity: Marrying, Procreating, Housing; Chapter 4: Matters of Scale: Feeding, Praying, Sharing; Chapter 5: A Pulsating Universe: Annihilating, Enhancing, Magnifying; Chapter 6: The Marital and the Martial: Gendering, Killing, Oscillating; Epilogue; Bibliography; Index


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