Intercalated: The Political and Spiritual Geographies of Plate Tectonics
This chapter shows how the theory of plate tectonics landed on Merapi. The chapter explores how the contemporary theory of the relationship between ocean and land was prefigured and enabled by Javanese spiritual geographies. The Central Javanese sultanates emerged through an acknowledgment that deities in the ocean and volcanoes were related to the sultans. Political power was made possible through these associations with chthonic deities. The theory of plate tectonics mirrored this. It was based on a radical shift in geological thought to understanding the exchanges between oceans and volcanoes. This chapter explores how these two visions fit together and examines the politics of their clashing and melding. It follows the mystics and sultans as they gave offerings to volcano and ocean deities and the geologists as they, in turn, considered the mystical foundations of plate tectonics. The chapter describes these intersections in terms of intercalation.