Art As Politics: Re-crafting Identities, Tourism, And Power in Tana Toraja, Indonesia

Front Cover
University of Hawaii Press, 2006 - History - 286 pages
1 Review

Art as Politics explores the intersection of art, identity politics, and tourism in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Based on long-term ethnographic research from the 1980s to the present, the book offers a nuanced portrayal of the Sa dan Toraja, a predominantly Christian minority group in the world s most populous Muslim country. Celebrated in anthropological and tourism literatures for their spectacular traditional houses, sculpted effigies of the dead, and pageantry-filled funeral rituals, the Toraja have entered an era of accelerated engagement with the global economy marked by on-going struggles over identity, religion, and social relations.

In her engaging account, Kathleen Adams chronicles how various Toraja individuals and groups have drawn upon artistically-embellished traditional objects as well as monumental displays, museums, UNESCO ideas about word heritage, and the World Wide Web to shore up or realign aspects of a cultural heritage perceived to be under threat. She also considers how outsiders be they tourists, art collectors, members of rival ethnic groups, or government officials have appropriated and reframed Toraja art objects for their own purposes. Her account illustrates how art can serve as a catalyst in identity politics, especially in the context of tourism and social upheaval.

Ultimately, this insightful work prompts readers to rethink persistent and pernicious popular assumptions that tourism invariably brings a loss of agency to local communities or that tourist art is a compromised form of expression. Art as Politics promises to be a favorite with students and scholars of anthropology, sociology, cultural studies, ethnic relations, art, and Asian studies.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


Carvings Christianity and CHiPs
Competing Toraja Images of Identity
The Carved Tongkonan
Mortuary Effigies and Identity Politics
Ceremonials Monumental Displays and Museumification
Toraja Icons on the National and Transnational Stage
Carving New Conceptions of Community in an Era of Religious and Ethnic Violence
From Toraja Heritage to World Heritage?

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

Popular passages

Page 258 - Constructing a China Metaphor: Sukarno's Perception of the PRC and Indonesia's Political Transformation, by Hong Liu. Contested Time and Place: Constructions of History in Todo, Manggarai (Western Flores, Indonesia), by Maribeth Erb. On the Contemporary Uses of Colonial History and the Legitimation of Political Status in Archipelagic Southeast Seram, by Roy Ellen.
Page 258 - Rape of the Ancestors: Discovery, Display, and Destruction of the Ancestral Statuary of Tana Toraja," in Fragile Traditions: Indonesian Art in Jeopardy, Paul M.
Page 258 - Dahles, Heidi 1998 Of Birds and Fish. Street Guides, Tourists, and Sexual Encounters in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2006)

Kathleen M. Adams is professor of anthropology at Loyola University Chicago and adjunct curator at the Field Museum of Natural History.

Bibliographic information