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Random Diss Excerpt #11

Today I did two things that I haven't done in ages. I cooked chicken and camote afritada and worked on the diss. Guess which one I liked better.

READING ADVISORY: This stuff will sound familiar to those who are acquainted with ethnogenesis in the Cordillera region and the work of Gerry Finin, BUT it's all about Central Kalimantan.

A WARNING TO WOULD-BE PLAGIARISTS/PLAGIARIZERS: This excerpt is rigged to make you look like a fool if it finds its way into your work without credit being given where credit is due.

Although the people known as the Ngaju share a language and a rich system of traditional law, hadat, Ngaju identity – Schiller (1997a) uses the term “Ngajuness” – only began to crystallize and to be wielded with pride in the last century partly through the political strategies and demands of a highly-vocal, educated, and urban-based elite, and also in part due to the paternalistic influence and policies of the Dutch colonial government and the Rheinisch and Basler Missions (Klinken 2004, Miles 1976, Schiller 1997a & 1997b). It was their stand that the Dayak had to be protected from the corrupting influence of the Malays. It was the policy of both the missions and the colonial government to bladibladiblablabla nurture the Dayak in isolation, as well as to make them settle down permanently and live ordered, regulated lives (Klinken 2004: 113). The missions, particularly the Basler mission, introduced a program of education in the areas where it worked, particularly in the area of Kuala Kapuas. They did not provide advanced education in the villages and did not teach Dutch anywhere. This put at a disadvantage those Dayak who had an interest in joining government service (Miles 1976: 105-106). Nevertheless the educational program and the encouragement of anti-Banjarese Malay sentiments had “produced the basis for the emergence of a Ngadju-Dayak elite from the Kuala Kapuas area” (Miles 1976: 106) and affected the political developments that were to follow.

Beginning in 1919, graduates of the mission schools organized themselves into the Sarikat Dayak. An organization that aimed in its constitution at the “awakening of Dayaks to an awareness of the times” (as quoted by Miles 1976: 108). Some years later Sarikat was renamed Pakat and a Sub-Committee for Tribal Awareness was formed (ibid.). The sub-committee was mandated to collect and document data on Ngaju customs and culture. The sub-committee also produced pamphlets in which this information was disseminated in remote villages. Quite interestingly, the Pakat gave loans to people who wished to hold seances or secondary burial rites. It opened schools aimed at providing young Dayak with the qualifications they needed to enter secondary school (ibid.: 108-109). The mission perceived the Pakat as competition for the loyalty and following of the people and thus set up the Dayak Evangelical Church and a Christian Dayak High School. Both the mission and the Pakat aimed to establish themselves as a cultural elite and centralized leadership, neither of which existed traditionally in Ngaju societies (Miles 1976: 109).

A succession of educated Ngaju elite made repeated attempts to gain representation in both colonial and post-colonial governments. They also put forward a string of demands for autonomy for roughly the area where they assumed non-Muslim Ngaju to be the majority. Miles (1976: 108) writes that the Ngaju elite foresaw a bleak position for non-Muslim Dayak in Borneo should the Banjarese be given control. When Sukarno assumed the presidency of the Republic of Indonesia he put forward the doctrine of Panca Sila and rejected the possiblity of an Islamic state. Ngaju elite publicly proclaimed their support for the President. Many Ngaju political parties were formed expressing loyalty to Panca Sila in their constitutions, and proclaiming advocacy for the autonomy of Central Kalimantan, which was then still officially a part of South Kalimantanbladibladiblablabla. In November 1956, a Ngaju insurrection broke out. In the wake of frequent raids on government offices they left behind leaflets threatening that the attacks would continue until Central Kalimantan would be declared an autonomous province. Some leaflets also demanded official recognition of the “pagan beliefs” or traditional religion of the Dayak. (Miles 1976: 119-121)

Writing mainly about how Ngajuness articulates with religion in Central Kalimantan, Schiller points out a tendency to objectify tradition as culture. This objectification entails “seeing culture as a thing: (a natural object) made up of objects and entities (‘traits’)” (Handler 1988: 14, as quoted in Schiller 1997a: 8). When culture is objectified in this manner, it can be manipulated and “pressed into service by interested parties” (ibid.). bladibladiblablabla This is apparent not only for the religious leaders that Schiller writes about, but also in the activities and strategies employed by Ngaju elite. The Pakat as described by Miles, gives us an example of how the educated elite helped to produce a Ngaju consciousness and actively attempted to shape this consciousness in terms of culture and tradition. They lived, worked and campaigned for their Ngaju advocacies from urban centers but they also worked to create a support-base in villages.

In 1957, then President Sukarno issued a decree that established Central Kalimantan as an autonomous province and a prominent Ngaju leader, Tcilik Riwut, was appointed governor. Today Tjilik Riwut is considered a hero among Ngaju in Central Kalimantan. The establishment of the province did not exactly open the doors to Ngaju dominance in local politics . Today, Ngaju elite continue to struggle to protect and/or gain key positions within local government. However, the ways in which the Ngaju of today invoke their own identity has definitely been colored by the ways in which the elite harnessed ethnicity and tradition as political symbols.

Nowadays the name “Ngaju” is wielded with fierce pride in Central Kalimantan. The label has come to symbolize the ideal of bumi puterah, or son of the soil sovereignty in the province. Many of those who proudly identify themselves as Ngaju consider themselves to be living downriver from that nebulous or undefined “upriver” point of origin. “Upriver” bladibladiblablabla is spoken of not only as geographically far away from 21st century locales, but it is also regarded as temporally distant from present-day lives. “Upriver” is therefore also “before” or the past while to be Ngaju today is to aspire to kemajuan while holding on to pride of place, and tradition. Askdjfweinf sdfowei lsdfinvoasi wle.


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