Creating Central Sulawesi. Mission Intervention, Colonialism and ‘Multiculturality’
Keywords:Colonial politics, Identity
AbstractCreating Central Sulawesi: Mission Intervention, Colonialism and ‘Multiculturality’
Central Sulawesi provides an example of how, under colonialism, non-state bodies contributed to the creation of new political identities in the Indonesian archipelago, and how the modern Indonesian state came to be based on these. Arguably, at the beginning of the twentieth century, the region was poised to be incorporated into the structure of one or other of the existing powerful Central and Southern Sulawesi political entities. As such, as just another ‘region’ in the sprawling archipelagic colony subjected to standard colonial policy, it should have been readily incorporated into the Indonesian state, albeit through the ‘Sulawesi Permesta’. Instead, in seeking to establish what one writer has described as a ‘volkskerk’ [people’s church], the ‘Poso mission’ established with colonial support by the Nederlandsche Zendinggenootschap [Netherlands Missionary Society] in 1892, was instrumental in defining new religious, cultural and linguistic boundaries. These acted to effectively isolate the Pamona people from adjacent Christian communities established by other missionary endeavours; from their Islamic neighbours and, arguably, from the ‘nation’. As elsewhere in the archipelago, the subsequent process of this region’s reintegration has formed part of the difficult postcolonial legacy inherited by the Indonesian nation.
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