Economy, ritual and history in a Balinese tourist town (Indonesia)

by MacRae, Graeme S

Abstract (Summary)
This thesis reports on ethnographic fieldwork in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia in 1993-1996. Economic development associated with tourism has resulted in conservation, development and intensification of aspects of traditional culture. Tourism is built upon the marketing of an image of traditional life. It has at the same time transformed the economic foundations of this way of life from agricultural production to a whole new sector providing goods and services to tourists. This transformation has had varied effects upon the components of the marketing image. One one hand it has made possible profitable commoditisation of traditional arts but on the other it has marginalised the agricultural sector in a number of ways. The relationship between tourism and ritual activity is less direct. While people have resisted direct commodification of ritual, they recognise its role as a tourist attraction. Ritual practices and the temples in which they take place have been the subject of massive redevelopment. While the forms of these are traditional, their content is linked to tourism in more complex ways. This process has been the subject of de-facto management by various parties including the traditional aristocracy, foreign expatriates, government and an emerging middle class. This management has been enabled and limited by access to key resources including English language, land, cultural knowledge, investment capital and government contacts. The thesis begins with description of contemporary Ubud, the transformation of its economy and a brief history of tourism. The relationship between ritual and economy is discussed both in general terms and ethnographic detail to provide insight into the context of cultural ideas in which tourist development has taken place. The spatial organisation of ritual reveals patterns of cultural order and political influence requiring historical analysis which in turn focuses attention on the role of the traditional aristocracy and changing patterns of control over land and labour as key factors in understanding the contemporary situation.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Auckland / Te Whare Wananga o Tamaki Makaurau

School Location:New Zealand

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:anthropology cultural 0326 history asia australia and oceania 0332 recreation 0814 economics general 0501


Date of Publication:01/01/1998

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