As an exercise in comparative regional ethnology … the volume is a thought-provoking success.

Stone Masters: Power Encounters in Southeast-Asia just received its first scholarly review. The book published in 2022 offers ethnological perspectives on stone veneration in mainland Southeast Asia, and reviewer Erick White found much more in it:

As much as the volume is about stone masters as prominent nonhuman figures of potency and efficacy within Southeast Asian society and culture, the book is also equally about the diverse, unruly pantheons and cosmologies within which these caring and capricious figures of potency reside … Threaded in a hidden fashion across the various arguments within Stone Masters, therefore, is a larger comparative question about how ideas of personhood, agency, efficacy, fecundity, productivity, well-being, prosperity, and humanity are conceptualized rather differently within the ontologies of “animism,” world historical religions, and secular scientific naturalism. In this sense, the book is also an exploration of how these contrasting understandings reinforce, negate, supplement, or undermine each other in the daily lives of contemporary mainland Southeast Asians.

Find the complete review here in Southeast Asian Studies.

Review citation: White, Erick. Review of Stone Masters: Power Encounters in Mainland Southeast Asia edited by Holly High. Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 13, No. 1, April 2024, pp. 172-175. DOI: 10.20495/seas.13.1_172.

Book citation: Holly High, ed. Stone Masters: Power Encounters in Mainland Southeast Asia. Singapore: NUS Press, 2022.