weblogUpdates.ping Taneak Jang, Rejang Land, Tanah Rejang http://rejang-lebong.blogspot.com Taneak Jang, Rejang land, Tanah Rejang: Session 182: South Sumatra: Change and Continuity (Abaut Gumai and Rejang by Discussant: Mary Margaret Steedly, Harvard University)

Session 182: South Sumatra: Change and Continuity (Abaut Gumai and Rejang by Discussant: Mary Margaret Steedly, Harvard University)


Session 182: South Sumatra: Change and Continuity

Organizer: Elizabeth Fuller Collins, Ohio University
Chair: Heinzpeter Znoj, Cornell University
Discussant: Mary Margaret Steedly, Harvard University

The papers presented on this panel focus on change and continuity in South Sumatran societies. Two papers describe the concern with "origins" and traditional rites and linguistic forms in highland ethnic groups-the Gumai and the Rejang-that are primarily engaged in agriculture. The other two papers discuss socio-cultural change in lowland Palembang, the provincial capital of South Sumatra. Taken together, the papers illustrate a common theme: that South Sumatran societies tend to be very adaptable, but adaptation to changing historical conditions tends to be culturally constructed as a renewal of tradition.

Attitudinal Changes Among the Youth of South Sumatra
Amran Halim, Sriwijaya University, Indonesia

Sociocultural and economic development of Indonesia as well as the advancement of technology, especially information technology, have brought about changes in the attitudes of the younger generation of South Sumatra in the last five years. There are three main changes in the attitudes of the youth. First, there are changes in their religious attitudes. Second, changes are also observable in their value of and attitude toward higher education. Third, the youth have also changed in their political attitudes and outlook. The youth, especially secondary school and college students, are increasingly active in their religious commitment. They organize various religious programs during their school years as well as during their vacations. In the last five years, the number of high school graduates taking entrance examinations for universities and colleges, including polytechnics, has been decreasing. The youth no longer seem to look at university education as a means of obtaining academic and professional training whereby they can expect to get good-paying jobs and a certain degree of social status. The so-called "practical politics" seems to attract the youth more and more. They organize political activities off campus and, to a limited extent, on campus.

Malu: Change and Continuity in an Emotional and Cognitive Construct
Elizabeth Fuller Collins, Ohio University

In Indonesia, the concept and emotion of malu, which can be translated as shame, embarrassment, or shyness, is regarded as providing the foundation for the development of moral consciousness. In South Sumatra, malu is fundamental to the ordering of gender relations and the culture of deference. It can be thought of as an anxiety reaction, signaling the danger associated with behavior that does not demonstrate the respect due to powerful and important people and behavior that is gender inappropriate or sexually provocative. Malu is also associated with the culture specific syndromes of latah and amok. This paper examines how the construct of malu is changing, as reflected in the decline in incidence of amok and latah. I also show how malu is also put to new uses in community discourses that are a response to the dangers associated with Westernization and western individualism. One example is the way the concept of malu is evoked to organize women's emotional response to work and study in a public arena, as when young women who study at institutions of higher education adopt the Islamic headcovering known as the jilbab and a modest version of Islamic dress. The paper is based on interviews with university students in Palembang, South Sumatra and research conducted with Dr. Ernaldi Bahar at the Public Mental Health Hospital.

The Discourse and Practice of Gumai Origin Rituals: Modernity in South Sumatra
Minako Sakai, Australian National University

In relation to the self examination of anthropological construction of knowledge, the notion of 'modernity' has been problematized. It is no longer necessarily regarded as westernization. Aihwa Ong (1996) and Mayfair Yang (1996) have focused on the modernities found in China since the 1970s They have shown that China has launched a modernization project, the roots of which are claimed to derive from Chinese culture, which is differentiated from western categories. Adrian Vickers (1996) also shows that being modern in Bali is somewhat different from westernization. These seminal studies on various types of 'modernities' in non-West countries demonstrate the fact that a linear development model of society is a historical construction arising from the particular western experience starting from the eighteenth century (Ileto 1988).

This study also aims to enhance an understanding of modernities and intends to highlight the discourse and practice of Gumai origin rituals in South Sumatra, a province of Indonesia. Under the New Order regime, Muslim Gumai are placed in an awkward situation in which they need to perform both Islamic obligation and seemingly 'pagan' rituals. Gumai origin rituals center on the notion of social origins, which are represented by ancestors and places. To 'modernize' rituals, the Gumai have transformed some of their origin rituals into an Islamic mode which they performed at the Islamic prayer house, mosque, and give new Islamic interpretations. This paper explores how the lslamization of Gumai origin rituals and the upkeep of their customs constitute a representation of Gumai modernity in South Sumatra.

Adaptability vs. Isolation in Rejang Language and Culture
Richard McGinn, Ohio University

Rejang is isolated linguistically in the sense that the language has no close relatives as demonstrated by the Comparative Method. Its closest relative-Malay-is probably separated by two or three millennia. Culturally, however, the Rejangs should be classified as an open rather than a closed societal type. Origin myths and the recent conversion to Islam are two important markers of cultural adaptability. Another interesting marker pointing in the same direction will be analyzed in this paper: the so-called "Asli" language. Rejang "Asli" is comparable in content and structure to Palembang "Asli" and Javanese Kawi, and contrasts with the ritual languages of relatively closed societies such as have been studied in Eastern Indonesia. The structure of the ritual languages is typically based on parallelism, and the content is derived from intra-language (dialect) borrowing. In contrast, the "Asli" languages do not employ parallelism, and the content is derived from inter-language (non-native) borrowing.


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