Accepted Paper:

Relations men can buy through brideprice payment: an example from the Island Pura in the Alor-Pantar-Archipelago (Eastern Indonesia)  


Susanne Rodemeier (University of Heidelberg)

Paper short abstract:

In the 1910th Dutch colonialists invented monetarism in the Alor-Pantar-Archipelago. Therefore, they destroyed the local currency, the kettledrums. Nevertheless, some drums survived as bride-price payment and were used again during the last years. What might be the reason?

Paper long abstract:

In the first half of the 20th century the Dutch colonialists invented monetarism in the Alor-Pantar-Archipelago. Therefore, they destroyed the traditional currency, the kettledrums. Some drums survived as currency, as bride-price payment. Interestingly enough, the custom was forgotten for several decades. Now it is revitalized mainly by Christians, whereas many of their Muslim relatives try to avoid the payment.

To understand why this habit was reinvented, it is important to take a closer look at the male as well as the female discourse on marriage-rules. This has to be compared to cases in point. And of course, Christian and Muslim discourse and examples have to be compared, too. Nevertheless, these comparisons cannot offer a final answer. To understand why the reinvention of bride-price payment has taken place, the discourse on the whole marriage complex has to be compared with other cases where payment initiates an alliance between families, nearby villages, and sometimes even between villages on neighbouring islands.

After the Dutch pacification of the area these peace-building customs lost their importance. Nowadays, the situation is changing again. The mobility of young people is high and often they find a partner outside their village of origin. Many fathers react by following the traditional rules hypercorrectly, and therefore, they try to pay whatever is demanded for the bride.

Bringing all named research-foci together, it might be possible to understand the changes which lead to the revitalisation of these payments when a marriage-alliance is started.

Panel W042
Relations that money can buy: negotiating mutualities and asymmetries in local and translocal social fields