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Negara Ubud: The Theatre‐state in Twenty‐first‐century Bali

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In his book Negara: The Theatre‐state in Nineteenth‐century Bali (1980), Clifford Geertz argued that ceremonial display, rather than material power, was the real basis and indeed the purpose of pre‐colonial states in Bali, and by extension South East Asia. This article argues, on the basis of historical and ethnographic evidence from one of these kingdoms, that he was largely wrong about pre‐colonial Bali, but that, ironically and presciently, his model makes increasing sense in early twenty‐first century Bali. The article also discusses the reasons for this and finally suggests a more dynamic model based on Bourdieu's metaphor of material and symbolic capital, which seeks to bring Geertz's essentially static model to historical life.
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Keywords: Ethnography; History; Indonesia; Pre‐colonial states; Southeast Asia

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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