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the island dating to the 9th century BCE, indicating that early Indic peoples came in direct
contact with the Balinese in the first millennium A.D. (Lansing, 1983:23)
One of the first Europeans to write about Bali, England’s Sir. Thomas Stamford Raffles,
argued that Bali was like a living museum of what pre-Majapahit Hindu Java would have been
like. (Geertz C., 1980: 7) Raffles is referring here to the period before the Islamization of Java
through the Majapahit revolution, a period in which Java was separated into Hindu kingdoms.
Many Javanese Hindus fled to Bali during the Majapahit revolution in the 16th century, and
Raffles argued that this was the source of Hinduism on Bali. Of course, culture is not a static
thing and the theory that Bali could be viewed simply as a museum of Hindu Java was
challenged by Clifford Geertz. (ibid.) Geertz cites several facts to refute this point. Hinduism
throughout the archipelago at the time, notes Geertz, was largely subject to regional
interpretation. Bali had its own pre-Hindu customs and practices which thrived alongside
Hinduism. Poignantly, Geertz argues that making such an argument “cannot be based on the
assumption that, by strange good fortune, the island has been spared history.” (ibid.) As much
as the Balinese have been able to keep many of their traditional practices and customs alive,
such as their own form of ancestor worship, they have certainly been exposed to changes that
have both challenged and influenced their own belief systems.
Dutch colonizers, who were unable to dominate Bali to the same extent as they were
able to dominate other parts of the archipelago (ibid.), did not seem as concerned with learning
about Balinese "culture" as they were with ridding it of practices they deemed horrific, such as
widow immolation. They were, of course, interested in having some degree of control of the