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Austronesian aboriginality or the ritual organization of the state? A controversy on the political dimension of temple networks in early bali

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Since early colonial times, Dutch government officials as well as anthropologists have made a distinction between what have been called "Bali Aga", the allegedly aboriginal inhabitants of Bali (Indonesia), and those inhabitants associated with title-bearing groups oriented towards royal courts and brahmana ritual specialists. While the former have been described as constituting a society characterized by equality and democracy, the latter have been portrayed as being almost the opposite. This article questions the basic assumptions about the "Bali Aga", especially the role of their ritual networks focusing on regional temples. These have been interpreted as a demonstration of equality and of a bounded "Bali Aga" ethnicity. This article suggests a different interpretation, one in which the ritual networks are understood as basic segments, not restricted to the Bali Aga, in the ritual organization of the pre-colonial Balinese state.
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Keywords: Bali; Bali Aga; Ritual organization; State; Temples

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2004

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