Download Interpreting Balinese Culture: Representation and Identity by Julie A

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facts as history, subsistence, population, pressure, and political tragedy will be related to
complex patterns of values and actions in Balinese culture…To lend the whole a thematic
coherence, we develop along the way an extended analogy between Bali’s dynamic, lustrous
culture and Indo-European principles of ‘romance.’ ” (Boon, 1977: 3)
Boon defined the anthropological construct of Balinese “culture” as a “romance of ideas
and actions which, like any romance, implicitly plays against an alternative self-image.” (Boon,
1977: 7) He looked at the history of Bali and then outlined and critiqued the works of earlier
20th century scholars and their techniques, viewing many of their notions as essentializing. He
was particularly critical of Belo, noticing the shortcomings of her research when compared
against his own research or the research of his contemporaries, Clifford Geertz and Hildred
Geertz, who he viewed as having a more thorough handle on the complexities of Balinese
culture. However, the Geertzes themselves did not spend any considerable amount of time on
the island when compared with Belo, who lived for extended periods on the island. They were
also unable to speak Balinese, and depended on an Indonesian translator, while Belo, along
with Mead and Bateson, relied on a Balinese translator, I Made Kaler.
Considering Belo’s study of opposite-sex twins, Boon applied his own findings. Twins of
either opposite or same sex, Boon notes, are seen to the Balinese as an unnatural contradiction
to the birth order, which dictates one order per birth. Due to the importance given to birth
order status within Balinese kinship, Boon notes that all twin births, not only opposite-sex
births, are seen as contradictory to Balinese communal and familial structure. (Boon, 1977: 138)
Belo, as has already been noted, only discussed the taboos surrounding same-sex twins.
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