The Heritage of Arung Palakka: A History of South Sulawesi (Celebes) in the Seventeenth Century

Springer Science & Business Media
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to use the Dutch presence to institute far-reaching innovations in his society. It became apparent that, while the Company's initial involve ment with South Sulawesi had required some military action, its sub sequent activities were often limited to that of arbiter in local disputes. Y et its approval was an essential element without which no local prince could exercise authority confidently. The reputation of the Company helped to sustain its position and that of anyone fortunate or clever enough to become linked with it. Arung Palakka's repeated references throughout his life to this link served a dual purpose: it reaffirmed his continuing devotion and loyalty to the Company, while reminding the people of South Sulawesi of the weapon which he could wield if neces sary to maintain power. Bearing the Company's trust as a right, Arung Palakka was able to introduce changes with little real opposition from within South Sulawesi. The Company has often been blamed for radical innovations in Malay-Indonesian societies, but as this study shows, in South Sulawesi at least the initiative clearly carne from a local ruler. Only research in other areas influenced by the Company's presence will demonstrate whether or not the South Sulawesi experience was unique. A secondary but nonetheless important reason for this study was to examine the roots of the large scale emigrations from South Sulawesi in the second half of the 17th century.
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Publisher
Springer Science & Business Media
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Published on
Nov 11, 2013
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Pages
367
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ISBN
9789401733472
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
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This content is DRM protected.
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Despite the existence of about a thousand ethnolinguistic groups in Southeast Asia, very few historians of the region have engaged the complex issue of ethnicity. Leaves of the Same Tree takes on this concept and illustrates how historians can use it both as an analytical tool and as a subject of analysis to add further depth to our understanding of Southeast Asian pasts. Following a synthesis of some of the major issues in the complex world of ethnic theory, the author identifies two general principles of particular value for this study: the ideas that ethnic identity is an ongoing process and that the boundaries of a group undergo continual if at times imperceptible change based on perceived advantage. The Straits of Melaka for much of the past two millennia offers an ideal testing ground to better understand the process of ethnic formation. The straits forms the primary waterway linking the major civilizations to the east and west of Southeast Asia, and the flow of international trade through it was the lifeblood of the region. Privileging ethnicity as an analytical tool, the author examines the ethnic groups along the straits to document the manner in which they responded to the vicissitudes of the international marketplace. Earliest and most important were the Malayu (Malays), whose dominance in turn contributed to the ethnicization of other groups in the straits. By deliberately politicizing differences within their own ethnic community, the Malayu encouraged the emergence of new ethnic categories, such as the Minangkabau, the Acehnese, and, to a lesser extent, the Batak. The Orang Laut and the Orang Asli, on the other hand, retained their distinctive cultural markers because a separate yet complementary identity proved to be economically and socially advantageous for them. Ethnic communities are shown as fluid and changing, exhibiting a porosity and flexibility that suited the mandala communities of Southeast Asia.

Leaves of the Same Tree demonstrates how problematizing ethnicity can offer a more nuanced view of ethnic relations in a region that boasts one of the greatest diversities of language and culture in the world. Creative and challenging, this book uncovers many new questions that should revitalize and reorient the historiography of Southeast Asia.

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