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Storytelling in Bali

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In Storytelling in Bali, Hildred Geertz makes a case for the importance of the role of informal storytelling as an engine of social change in Bali in the 1930s. This is a study of more than 200 texts dictated by the painters of the village of Batuan in 1936 to the anthropologist Gregory Bateson. It is completed by three years field work in Batuan in the 1980s.

The tales reveal a set of strong ambivalences about the magical powers of kings, priests and sorcerers, and about social strains within villages and families. These narratives were related in the daily settings of home and coffee shop and also in the spectacular dance-dramas of the time.

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