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Chapter 1: Introduction
The aim of this thesis is to consider how both the Balinese people and their “culture”
have been represented within the anthropological canon, and whether this has been an
adequate representation of Balinese identity, for both the Balinese and the reader. Culture
itself is largely a scholarly construct, and is consistently exposed to further development,
critique and, at times, deconstruction. As it is difficult, with any degree of certainty, to
understand exactly what culture “is,” it is equally difficult to understand exactly what
constitutes any one particular culture. As theories have changed over the years, so have the
ways in which scholars approach and attempt to analyze specific cultures.
Bali is a well-studied and documented region of the world that has felt the impact of
tourism and other aspects of globalization, such as the advent of the worldwide web, and yet,
to a large degree, it has also been able to maintain its distinct traditions, such as its unique
religious practices based on Balinese Hinduism, and its acclaimed artistic history. It is often
held up for analysis within anthropology.
Bali is one of over seventeen thousand islands, most uninhabited, that comprise the
Indonesian Archipelago. It lies just west of Java, Indonesia’s most populous island and home to
its capital city, Jakarta. It is the only predominantly Hindu province within Indonesia, the most
populous Muslim country in the world. The current population of Bali is over 3.8 million.
Although Indonesian is the lingua franca throughout the nation, each island has its own
language and Bali is no exception. Basa Bali, the Balinese language, is still the language used
every day by the Balinese. The language itself is broken into several different variations, which