Accepted Paper:

Appropriating Spiritual Guardianship in the Periphery: Bugis Migrants' Reconceptualisation of Lindu Locality (Central Sulawesi, Indonesia)  


Gregory Acciaioli (University of Western Australia)

Paper Short Abstract:

Bugis migrants to the Lindu plain in Central Sulawesi refashion the hierarchy of guardian spirits and custodianship of local rituals as a strategy of cultural appropriation, complementing economic and political dominance, in an attempt to impose not only local domination but local hegemony.

Paper long abstract:

Analyses of the position of Bugis migrants in local communities have usually stressed their achievement of economic success, involving subordinating members of host societies in patron-client hierarchies and marketing networks in the localities they come to occupy. However, such a focus obscures other cultural means by which Bugis have sought to exercise their dominance. As migrants throughout the Indonesian archipelago, Bugis bill themselves as agents of progress, carriers and disseminators of national ideologies and even transnational orientations. While they have often served as innovators in the introduction of national development programs (e.g. rice intensification) in some new locales and established mosques and prayer houses as venues for the maintenance of their own Islam and its dissemination to others in the region, they have also sought to transform local traditions. This paper examines the process of how Bugis migrants to the Lindu plain of Central Sulawesi have used the conceptualisations of hierarchy and genealogy they have brought from South Sulawesi to refashion the beliefs and traditions of the indigenous Lindu people among whom they have settled and have attempted to establish themselves as the proper intermediaries to the local spirit world in a process of attempted cultural appropriation. Such a strategy parallels their roles as political brokers to government officials and as economic mediators through intermediate marketing, demonstrating how Bugis migrants use spiritual as well as political and economic means in a multimodal hegemonising strategy to gain dominance in areas of settlement.

Panel P45
Religious relations In Asia