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Sovereignty in the North Moluccas: Historical Transformations

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The re-establishment of the Sultanates of Ternate and Tidore (North Moluccas) in the wake of the political decentralization in Indonesia was accompanied in 1999 by violent confrontations of Muslims and Christians, in which the Sultans reactivated their “traditional” sovereign claims on their former overseas dependencies in Halmahera. This article examines the representations and ritual exchanges, in terms of which from the mid-nineteenth century onwards sovereignty used to be conceptualized and enacted in the societies concerned. Focusing on the monetary dimensions of these models of sovereignty and tributary relations, it analyzes the interventions that were implemented successively by the Sultanate of Ternate, the Dutch Colonial Government and missionaries of the Dutch Reformed Protestant Church. It is argued that these interventions eventually resulted in transformations of the diarchically structured and cosmologically authorized models of sovereignty into religiously grounded claims at universal sovereignty, thus paving the way for inter-religious violence.
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Keywords: Moluccas; Monetary exchange; Ritual; Sovereignty

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2013

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