Ensuring community and agricultural resiliency to climate change: Ceremonial practices as emic adaptive strategies

Sarah Austin Casson


This paper is an analysis of emic versus etic approaches to climate change resiliency, taking as a case study the traditional ceremony performed by farmers in eastern Flores, Indonesia to rid their fields of rats. This paper begins by providing a theoretical framework discussion on the dominant etic and emic academic research on monsoons and climate change impacts on agriculture. The rat ceremony performed in villages throughout East Flores is a local custom used to rid agricultural fields of pests—often rats—that come from the surrounding forests to feed on the agricultural crops when the rains become erratic. This paper argues that analyzing the rat ceremony through an emic lens allows for better future resiliency to monsoon shifts due to climate change. It is argued that the rat ceremony demonstrates a way in which community resiliency is strengthened by an adaptive approach that supports an already existing community ceremony that emphasizes two essential tenets: community solidarity and coexistence with nature. Both tenets directly promote community resiliency. An explicit emphasis on emic approaches to climate change challenges could help re-define how resiliency is understood and supported within vulnerable communities such as rural villages.

Key words: Climate Change, Adaptation, Resiliency, Pests, Indonesia, Emic, Etic

Data of the article

First received : 30 March 2016 | Last revision received : 28 November 2016
Accepted : 05 December 2016 | Published online : 23 December 2016
URN: nbn:de:hebis:34-2016111451451

Full Text:



Adger, W. N., Barnett, J., Brown, K., Marshall, N., &

O’Brien, K. (2012). Cultural Dimensions of Climate

Change Impacts and Adaptation. Nature Climate

Change, 3, 112–117.

Adger, W. N., Dessai, S., Goulden, M., Hulme, M., Lorenzoni, I., Nelson, D. R., Naess, L. O., Wolf, J., & Wreford, A. (2009). Are there social limits to adaptation to climate change? Climat- ic Change, 93(3-4), 335–354.http://doi.org/10.1007/ s10584-008-9520-z

Allerton, C. (2003). Authentic Housing, Authentic Culture?: Transforming a Village into a “Tourist Site” in Manggarai, Eastern Indonesia. Indonesia and the Malay World, 31(89), 119–128.

Barnes, R. H. (1974). Kédang: A study of the collective thought of an eastern Indonesian people. Oxford: Claredon Press.

Behera, K. S., Jena, M., Dhua, U. & Prakash A. (2013). Emerging Insect Pests and Diseases of Rice under Various Rice Ecosystems. In P.K. Shetty, M.R. Hegde & M. Mahadevappa (Eds.), Innovations in Rice Production (p. 93-103). Bangalore: National Institute of Advanced Studies

Berkes, F. (2007). Understanding uncertainty and reducing vulnerability: lessons from resilience thinking. Natural Hazards, 41(2), 283–295. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-006-9036-7

Berkes, F., Colding, J., & Folke, C. (2000). Rediscovery of traditional ecological knowledge as adaptive management. Ecological Applications, 10(5), 1251–1262.

Birkenholtz, T. (2011). Network political ecology: Method and theory in climate change vulnerability and adaptation research. Progress in Human Geography, 36(3), 295–315. http://doi.org/10.1177/0309132511421532

Blaikie, P. (1985). The Political Economy of Soil Erosion in Developing Countries. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Bubandt, N. (2004). Violence and Millenarian Modernity in Eastern Indonesia. In H. Jebens (Ed.), Cargo, Cult, and Culture Critique. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. p. 92-116

Bussey, M., Carter, R. W., Keys, N., Carter, J., Mangoyana, R., Matthews, J., Nash, D., Oliver, J., Russell, R., Roiko, A., Sano, M., Thomsen, D.C., Weber, E., & Smith, T. F. (2012). Framing adaptive capacity through a history–futures lens: Lessons from the South East Queensland Climate Adaptation Research Initiative. Futures, 44(4), 385–397. http://doi. org/10.1016/j.futures.2011.12.002

Casson, S. (2015). Etic vs Emic as Adaptive Measures to Climate Change: The Rat as a Misguided Friend. Bulletin of the Yale Tropical Resources Institute, 34, 87–92.

Challinor, A. J., Watson, J., Lobell, D. B., Howden, S. M., Smith, D. R., & Chhetri, N. (2014). A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation. Nature Climate Change, 4, 287-291. http://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2153

Dawei, Z., & Stigter, K. (2010). Combating disasters in covered cropping systems. In Stigter, K. (Ed.), Applied Agrometeorology. Springer. p. 821–824

Dove, M. R. (1985). The Agroecological Mythology of the Javanese, and the Political-Economy of Indonesia. Indonesia 39, 1-36.

Dove, M. R. (1986). The Practical Reason of Weeds in Indonesia: Peasant vs. State Views of Imperata and Chromolaena. Human Ecology, 14(2), 163–190.

Dove, M. R. (1992). The Dialetical History of “Jungle” in Pakistan: An Examination of the Relationship between Nature and Culture. Journal of Anthropological Research, 48(3), 231–253.

Dove, M. R. (1996). Process versus Product in Bornean Augury: A Traditional Knowledge System’s Solution to the Problem of Knowing. In R. Ellen & K. Fukui (Eds.), Redefining Nature: Ecology, Culture and Domestication. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan. p. 557-596

Dove, M. R. & Kammen, D. (1997) The Epistemology of Sustainable Resource Use: Managing Forest Products, Swiddens, and High-Yielding Variety Crops. Human Organization, 56(1), 91-101.

Ellen, R. F. (2006). Local Knowledge and Management of Sago Palm (Metroxylon sagu Rottboell) Diversity in South Central Seram, Maluku, Eastern Indonesia. Journal of Ethnobiology, 26(2), 258–298.

Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Fairhead, J. & Leach, M. (1996). Misreading the African Landscape: Society and Ecology in a Forest-Savanna Mosaic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Folke, C., Carpenter, S., Elmqvist, T., Gunderson, L., Holling, C. S., & Walker, B. (2002). Resilience and Sustainable Development: Building Adaptive Capacity in a World of Transformations. Ambio, 31(5), 437–440.

Folke, C., Carpenter, S. R., Walker, B., Scheffer, M., Chapin, T., & Rockström, J. (2010). Resilience Thinking: Integrating Resilience, Adaptability and Transformability. Ecology and Society, 15(4), 20.

Fox, J. J. (2011). Re-Considering Eastern Indonesia. Asian Journal of Social Science, 39(2), 131–149.

Fujisaka, S., Moody, K., & Ingram, K. (1993). A descriptive study of farming practices for dry seeded rainfed lowland rice in India, Indonesia, and Myanmar. Agriculture, Ecosystems, and Environment, 45(1-2), 115–128.

Garay-Barayazarra, G., & Puri, R. (2011). Smelling the monsoon: Senses and traditional weather forecasting knowledge among the Kenyah Badeng farmers of Sarawak, Malaysia. Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge, 10(1), 21–30.

Garrett, K. A., Dendy, S. P., Frank, E. E., Rouse, M. N., & Travers, S. E. (2006). Climate change effects on plant disease: genomes to ecosystems. Annu. Rev. Phytopathol., 44, 489–509.

Hägerdal, H. (2010). Cannibals and Pedlars: Economic Opportunities and Political Alliance in Alor, 1600-1850. Indonesia and the Malay World, 38(11), 217–246.

Hidup, I. K. M. N. L. (2007). Indonesian National Action Plan Addressing Climate Change. State Ministry of Environment, Republic of Indonesia.

Howden, S. M., Soussana, J. F., Tubiello, F. N., Chhetri, N., Dunlop, M., & Meinke, H. (2007). Adapting agriculture to climate change. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 104(50), 19691–6. http://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0701890104

Huda, A. K. S., Hind-Lanoiselet, T., Derry, C., Murray, G., & Spooner-Hart, R. N. (2007). Examples of coping strategies with agrometeorological risks and uncertainties for Integrated Pest Management. In M. V. K. Sivakumar, M. V. K., & Motha, R. P. (Ed.s) Managing Weather and Climate Risks in Agriculture. Springer. R. p. 265–280.

Kehi, B., & Palmer, L. (2012). Hamatak Halirin: The Cosmological and Socio-Ecological Roles of Water in Koba Lima, Timor. Bijdragen Tot de Taal-, Land- En Volkenkunde, 168(4), 445–471.

Keil, A., Zeller, M., Wida, A., Sanim, B., & Birner, R. (2008). What determines farmers’ resilience towards ENSO-related drought? An empirical assessment in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia. Climate Change, 86(3-4), 291–307.

Naylor, R., Falcon, W., Wada, N., & Rochberg, D. (2002). Using El Niño Southern Oscillation climate data to improve food policy planning in Indonesia. Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 38(75-91).

Naylor, R., & Mastrandrea, M. (2010). Coping with Climate Risks in Indonesian Rice Agriculture. In J.A. Filar & A. Haurie (Eds.), Uncertainty and Environmental Decision Making. New York: Springer Science+Business Media.

Nelson, D. R., Adger, W. N., & Brown, K. (2007). Adaptation to Environmental Change: Contributions of a Resilience Framework. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 32(1), 395–419. http://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.energy.32.051807.090348

Pasotti, L., Maroli, M., Giannetto, S., & Brianti, E. (2006). Agrometeorology and models for the parasite cycle forecast. Parassitologia, 48(1-2), 81–83.

Rathore, L. S. & Stigter, C. J. (2007) Challenges to Coping Strategies with Agrometeorological Risks and Uncertainties in Asian Regions. In Sivakumar, M. V. K. & Motha, R. P. (Eds.) Managing Weather and Climate Risks in Agriculture. Springer. p. 53–69.

Rickards, L., & Howden, S. M. (2012). Transformational adaptation: agriculture and climate change. Crop and Pasture Science, 63(3), 240. http://doi.org/10.1071/cp11172

Rodima-Taylor, D., Olwig, M. F., & Chhetri, N. (2012). Adaptation as innovation, innovation as adaptation: An institutional approach to climate change. Applied Geography, 33, 107–111. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.apgeog.2011.10.011

Salinger, M. J., Sivakumar, M. V. K., & Motha, R. (2005). Reducing vulnerability of agriculture and forestry to climate variability and change: workshop summary and recommendations. Climatic Change, 70(1-2), 341–362.

Soejitno, J. (1999). Integrated Pest Management in Rice in Indonesia: A Success Story. Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions: FAO Regional Office for Asia & The Pacific.

Stigter, C. J. (2008). Agrometeorology from science to extension: Assessment of needs and provision of services. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment, 126(3), 153–157.

Thorburn, C. (2014). Empire Strikes Back: The Making and Unmaking of Indonesia’s National Integrated Pest Management Program. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems, 38(1), 3–24.

Tsing, A. L. (2005). Friction: an ethnography of global connection. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Vermeulen, S. J., Aggarwal, P. K., Ainslie, A., Angelone, C., Campbell, B. M., Challinor, A.J., Hansen, J., Ingram, J.S. I., Jarvis, A., Kristjanson, P., Lau, C., Nelson, G.C., Thornton, P.K., & Wollenberg, E. (2010). Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change: Outlook for Knowledge, Tools and Action (CCAFS Report No. 3). Copenhagen: CGIAR-ESSP Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security.

World Bank, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, the National Hydrological and Meteorological Services, the World Meteorological Organization, and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (2013) Country Assessment Report of Indonesia: Strengthening of Hydrometeorological Services in Southeast Asia. Washington, D.C.: The World Bank.

Zimmermann, F. (1987). Monsoon in Traditional Culture. In J. S. Fein & P. L. Stephens (Eds.), Monsoons. New York: Wiley. p. 51–76.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Comments on this article

View all comments



 Google Scholar H5 index 3 

Sponsoring Organisations

Logo Agrarekologie Uni Kassel