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Whitman College

Publication Date

Fall 2012

Program Name

Indonesia: Arts, Religion, and Social Change


When I was first told about a small village in North Bali where Hindus and Muslims live in harmony with one another, I was immediately intrigued. A month and a half later, our group was driving on the windy roads that take one from the southern part of Bali through the mountains into North Bali. We arrived in the village of Pegayaman and listened to some of the more distinguished village members tell us about life in Pegayaman. Because the village is known for being an example of religious harmony between Hindus and Muslims, this was the main topic of their talk. However, a number of things seemed odd. For one, all the spokespeople that were talking to us were middle-aged Muslim men. Hindus were present at this talk, but they were sitting together, off to the side in the back. Not one Hindu was invited to speak. During their talk, many things they were describing about village life seemed to favor Muslims, such as the intermarriage laws and the fact that Pegayaman’s village head has always Muslim. Needless to say, I was suspicious of this so-called “religious harmony” that they claimed to maintain. A month later I was sitting in a car, following those same windy roads I had taken before, heading back to Pegayaman. I hoped to find out exactly how harmoniously Hindus and Muslims lived amongst each other there. If they really did live in peace and without tensions, I wanted to know how they did it. Did they have more pluralistic theological views that accommodated their neighbors from a different faith? Did they unite around a single identity? What allowed them to live side-by-side? If there were problems, I hoped to find out what they were and if they were trying to resolve them in some way.


Civic and Community Engagement | Critical and Cultural Studies | Inequality and Stratification | International and Intercultural Communication | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Social Psychology and Interaction


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