Download Interpreting Balinese Culture: Representation and Identity by Julie A

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result, their social structure—based loosely on the caste system—was stratified and
reorganized. Their belief system would, again, be tested by Indonesian independence when,
under pressure from federal regulators, the Balinese were required to validate their own
beliefs, and remold them into what would be acceptable under Indonesian law. Balinese
intelligentsia largely reinvented Hinduism for the Balinese by consulting Indian Hindu scholars
and Brahmans and by revisiting ancient texts. They were, at the same time, attempting to
create a history substantial enough that it would be accepted as tradition by Indonesian
officials, regardless of the fact that such a rigid history did not exist. The Balinese were now
learning about what their Hindu history and tradition should have been, according to those
outside Balinese culture, leading to a reinvention of Balinese identity, taught largely through
unfamiliar sacred texts. These new notions about Balinese Hinduism were also implemented
within the school system and taught to children from a young age, the result being that children
were given a manipulated version of Balinese history.
What scholars have concluded about Bali has also impacted how the Balinese view
themselves. Baliologists have long been attempting to recreate the past of Bali, while analyzing
the future. The earliest scholars were creating images, oftentimes very essentializing ones, of a
culture that would capture American and European imaginations, and directly influence the
development of tourism on the island. In turn, tourism would impact the Balinese, forcing
them to adapt to unfamiliar and new influences, and swift change. This would lead to an
economic boom on the island as tourists flocked to buy art, watch dance and drama, and to
witness exotic rituals and ceremonies. Balinese “culture,” in the forms of market level
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