Between Land and Horizon: Assemblages of Beings, Places and Things in Kiribati

An entire range of divine beings and spirits have existed in Kiribati from time immemorial. My focus is on a mythic landscape of invisible sites located between land and horizon. This involves a series of named sites with interrelated spatial locations, specific attributes, and groupings of divine beings, spirits and things. Some places are located in the inaccessible depths of the ocean. Other invisible localities are linked to visible topographical circumstances on the ocean side of atolls, such as the surf, reefs, waves, cliffs, and sand and soil at the transition of beach and land. The mythic terrain is structured around the fundamental opposition of ocean and land. Every space is occupied, and occupants must be recognized and respected. Conceptualizing various representations of invisible sites between land and horizon as assemblage, accounts ultimately for the fact that no original, superordinate version of this real and imagined world exists. All attempts to complete an existing network of beings, sites and things, by way of additional manuscripts, literature and interviews with specialists, lead to further links, translations, solutions, shifts and modifications, as well as to disseminations of effective capacity. All representations of this zone will remain partial and valid at the same time. The variability, openness and limited stability of assemblages is an important instance in the translation and linking of visible and invisible, sound and silence, real and imagined, past and present.


Wolfgang Kempf (2019):
Between Land and Horizon. Assemblages of Beings, Places and Things in Kiribati.
In: Roger I. Lohmann (eds.): Haunted Pacific. Anthropologists Investigate Spectral Apparitions across Oceania. Durham: Carolina Academic Press, pp. 119–142.