Tana Toraja: A Social History of an Indonesian People


Terance W. Bigalke


Singapore: Singapore University Press

Available From: University of Hawaii Press (United States and its dependencies, Canada, and Mexico); Singapore University Press
Publication Date: 2005
ISBN: 9971-69-313-5
Binding: paper
Pages: xxv, 395


Tana Toraja is a highland region in the Indonesian province of South Sulawesi, best known today for its exquisite arbica coffee and as an exotic destination for cultural tourism. Toraja is a place, but more importantly, it is a people who have been shaped by location, and by selective absorption of and resistance to cultural forces from the Islamic lowlands. This ambitious, multifaceted study traces the history of Tana Toraja over more than a century, from 1870, forty years before the Dutch took control of the highlands, to the 1990s. It shows how the people of this area re-negotiated their place in the province and in the Indonesian nation during times of major political change, and succeeded in avoiding ethnic and religious hostility of the sort that has plagued nearby Central Sulawesi and other parts of Eastern Indonesia.

Drawing from Dutch and Indonesian archives as well as extensive interviews, Terance W. Bigalke discusses a wide range of subjects, including trade (in coffee, slaves, and arms), the missionary presence, colonial administration, modern education, and the development of ethnic consciousness, religious change, and the growth of political activity.