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were enamored with the island, and were presenting their first hand observations of the
people, which was oftentimes quite essentializing. Many of these earliest scholars have been
accused of romanticizing Bali through their writings. This notion of Bali being romanticized is a
theme that comes up more than once in the more recent literature. David Shavit, for example,
notes that scholars such as Gregor Krause discussed at length the beauty of the Balinese
people, particularly the women, and the island itself. (Shavit, 2003: 18-19) Words like sensual
and exotic were often used to describe Bali. The island was treated as “a hallowed land of love,
peace and beauty.” (ibid.) Robert Pringle described it as a place of “nectar and ambrosia” for
the earliest anthropologists. (Pringle, 2004: 147) So certainly the idea that Bali has been viewed
not only as exotic but as romantic in the eyes of its earliest visitors is not a new idea, but rather
one that is visited with some frequency.
Along with these earliest scholars, this stage also includes anthropologists Margaret
Mead and Jane Belo, who came to the island shortly after the first scholars and who were
writing around the same time. They were influenced by their predecessors, but brought more
analysis and theory to their study of Balinese culture. In this way, Mead and Belo became an
academic bridge between the earliest first wave scholars and the “second wave” scholars.
The next stage of scholars is a group I collectively refer to as “second wave” scholars.
They conducted research post-World War II and during or after the period when Indonesia
gained its independence from the Netherlands. These included anthropologists Clifford Geertz
and Hildred Geertz, and J. Stephen Lansing. This stage of writers built on the contributions of