Tanimbar Medicine on Medium

It’s been a pretty busy couple of weeks, so although I’ve got a couple of blog posts brewing, I’ve not had time to actually get them properly written. In the mean-time, my piece on Tanimbarese medicine — an extract from a book-length work-in-progress that I’ve been busy with — has been published by Unmapped Magazine over on Medium. It’s a story of possession, exorcism, crazed nuns, and stomach-dwelling octopuses. The article is free to access, and you can get hold of it from the link here.

Storytellers and Anthropologists

I’m currently in the middle of editing a book that I’ve been working on about the Tanimbar islands in Indonesia. I was in Tanimbar some twenty years ago as a fledgling anthropologist, and it was in Tanimbar that I started writing seriously. In fact, I find it hard to disentangle my time in Tanimbar from my life as a writer. This, in part, has been why I have found this book so tricky to write, and why it has taken long. Read more

Prisoners on Tanimbar?

I got home yesterday to find an exciting package waiting for me: a small parcel from France, inside of which was a copy of a French comic dating from the 1960s. It was a copy of Akim (no. 247, to be precise), which started life in Italy as a knock-off copy of Tarzan. Akim ran from 1950 to 1967 in Italy, and had an afterlife in France where it continued to be published until 1991. Issue no. 247 dates from the French period, and the reason I got hold of it is that I’m currently writing a book on the Tanimbar islands in Indonesia, so when I saw that there was a French comic from the sixties telling an exciting tale of  imprisonment in Tanimbar (‘La Prison de Tanimbar’), as a thorough researcher, I thought I had to get myself a copy. Besides, ‘La Prison de Tanimbar’ had a magnificent cover, which I cannot resist sharing. Read more

Tanimbar Medicine in Unmapped Magazine

I’m absolutely delighted to say that my essay on Tanimbarese medicine has been published in the wonderful Unmapped magazine. The essay is about witchcraft, possession, strange octopi that lurk in the stomachs of their victims and crazed Indonesian nuns with syringes. Unmapped is available by subscription, for £2 a month — and it’s a wonderful publication, so do think about signing up.

Read more

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