Tana Toraja: A Social History of an Indonesian People

SKU: 9789067182560 Categories: ,

Tana Toraja is a highland region in the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi, best known today for its exquisite Arabica coffee and as an exotic destination. Toraja is a place, but more importantly a people who have been shaped by location, and by selective absorption of and resistance to cultural forces from the Islamic lowlands. This ambitious, multifaceted study traces the history of Tana Toraja, from 1870 (40 years before the Dutch took control of the highlands) to the 1990s. It shows how the people of this area re-negotiated their place in the province and in the Indonesian nation during times of major political change, and succeeded in avoiding ethnic and religious hostility of the sort that has recently plagued nearby Central Sulawesi and other parts of Eastern Indonesia. Drawing from Dutch and Indonesian archives as well as extensive interviews with Torajans and lowlanders in South Sulawesi, the author discusses a wide range of subjects, including trade (coffee, slaves and arms), the missionary presence, colonial administration, modern education and the development of ethnic consciousness, religious change, and the growth of political activity. The invaluable oral sources collected in this book are no longer possible today because of a passing of a generation. Terance W. Bigalke is Director of Education at the East-West Center in Hawaii, USA.

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