Download Interpreting Balinese Culture: Representation and Identity by Julie A

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However, unlike the earlier photographic contributions of Krause and others that set out to
capture the “secrets” of “exotic Bali,” the photography used here plays a major role in the
fieldwork. The photographs taken were themselves analyzed. Said Bateson, "[w]e tried to
shoot what happened normally and spontaneously, rather than to decide upon the norms and
then get Balinese to go through these behaviors in suitable lighting. We treated the cameras in
the field as recording instruments, not as devices for illustrating our theses." (Bateson and
Mead 1942: 49). This is arguably the first time in Bali that photography had itself been used as a
scientific tool.
Balinese Character is, as the title suggests, a study of what creates and constitutes the
character of the Balinese people. Keeping in mind Benedict’s influence on Mead, this was a
study that considered the impacts of culture on character and personality. Bateson and Mead
argued that the social organization of the Balinese, the fact that they spend so much of their
time doing things communally, as members of a community, strongly impacts and, itself,
constitutes part of what it means to be “Balinese.” (Bateson and Mead, 1942: 3) As members of
the community, the Balinese celebrate together, worship and engage in ceremonial work
together, and in doing so, live and grow together as individuals and as part of a greater
community. “Spatial orientations and levels” also play an important part of the Balinese
character for Mead and Bateson. How the Balinese orient themselves within their
community—how they see themselves within the caste system—help to define who they are as
part of the community and as individuals. (ibid: 6-12) Further, how the Balinese view the body
and different parts of the body impact their character. How all of this information is passed
down and shared between the members of the community, family members, and from parents
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