Abstract

ABSTRACT:

Lamalera is a small coastal community in the Lesser Sunda region of eastern Indonesia whose cosmology and livelihoods are rooted in hunting large marine prey, including toothed whales and large ocean fishes. In the past decade Lamalera's hunting practices have become embroiled in an international authenticity debate about technology, traditional belief, and conservation, fixating on the incorporation of outboard motors in hunts. Combining theories of material religion and the dispossession of indigenous peoples, this article makes two arguments. First it argues that the movement to outboards should be understood as an adaptation in the materiality of a sacred practice rather than the unraveling of tradition or decline of authenticity as has been proposed. Second, the article argues that the discourse of authenticity itself impacts the community in harmful ways, both by requiring Lamalerans to defend themselves, which has internal social costs, and by detrimentally reframing the important work that the community has done to keep their sacred practices alive in the midst of challenging circumstances.

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