SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Dragons in the Waters of Borneo: Power, Protection and Threat

20181205 - Cloth
Dr Monica Janowski (SOAS University of London)

Date: 5 December 2018Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 5 December 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4429

Type of Event: Seminar


Beliefs about snake-like water spirits or dragons are ubiquitous in SE Asia, and Borneo is no exception. These beliefs derive from east and west, from the Chinese lung and the Indian naga, as well as from an earlier stratum of beliefs deriving from both an Austronesian and a pre-Austronesian heritage. In 2017 I began research on these beliefs in Sarawak and I will discuss some of these here. These spirits are closely associated with water and its power both to fertilize and to destroy, and this is reflected in complex beliefs around their relationship with humans.

Speaker Biography

Monica Janowski is a social anthropologist who has been carrying out research in Sarawak for more than 30 years. Her research interests focus on indigenous cosmology and the relationship between humans and the natural environment. She has recently completed a one-year research fellowship at the Sarawak Museum assisting in planning the content of galleries in the new museum building.

Organiser: SOAS Centre of South East Asian Studies

Contact email:

Contact Tel: +44 (0)20 7898 4893/2