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island, its people and resources. They were also interested in “civilizing” the Balinese, although
not to the same level of “civilization” the Dutch themselves enjoyed. The Dutch were also
frustrated because the Balinese did not seem to have an island-wide form of government.
Instead they noted the Balinese had “fluid, inconsistent” traditions that differed from region to
region. (Lansing, 1983: 113) Such regional distinctions can still be noted today, such as with the
2-3% of Balinese who consider themselves Bali Aga, a group believed to have lineages to preMajapahit Balinese kingdoms, who have their own distinct customs and beliefs, and who were
staunchly resistant to any Javanese Hindu influence. (Pringle, 2004: 11-12) The issue of regional
differences was also addressed by Bateson and Mead who noted that every village in Bali
differed in “conspicuous respects…so that no single statement about Bali is true of all of Bali,
and any negative statement about Bali must be made with the greatest caution.” (Bateson and
Mead, 1942: xiv) Nevertheless, as discussed below, many of the first and second wave theorists
such as Mead and Bateson, drew conclusions based on their field work within certain regions of
Bali and applied them to all Balinese.
Other colonialist views of the Balinese impacted Balinese culture and people. The Dutch
felt the Balinese were “not Hindu enough” and felt forced to reform or even reinvent Balinese
traditions. They were bent on stratifying Bali as a Hindu culture with a caste system. Prior to
Dutch colonialism, the Balinese had four castes, including the exalted state of the Brahman
caste in particular, but were not rigidly enforcing the system. Under Dutch control, the loosely
structured “caste system” of pre-colonial Bali was “Indianized” and, as a result, more than 90%
of the Balinese population became “sudra,” or low caste. (ibid.) This is very important to note
because Balinese “identity” has, in the 20th century, become intimately connected to Hinduism