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Sumarsam, Su Zheng, Mark Slobin






This dissertation examines the role of twentieth-century performing arts in the transformation of Protestant/Hindu relations in Bali. More specifically, it demonstrates how the regional tourist economy produced a largely artificial sacred/secular musical binary and how this distinction in turn fostered newly hybridized genres of Christian gamelan music and dance. Religiously mixed gamelan groups of Balinese Protestants and Hindus now regularly perform this repertoire, a stark contrast to the strict religious segregation of the early and mid-twentieth century. Through such interaction a shared, interreligious aesthetic discourse has emerged. I utilize aspects of social network analysis, and material culture studies to illustrate how one particular Protestant denomination, known colloquially as the Bali Church (or Gereja Kristen Protestan di Bali, GKPB), has established and maintained this discourse vis-à-vis Protestant/Hindu music networks based on shared concerns regarding ethnic (Balinese) identity, described locally as “kebalian.”

The main body of the dissertation is divided into two main sections, each consisting of two chapters. The first section establishes the historical development and narrative upon which the second proceeds. Chapter one examines the development of contextual practices within the Bali Church from 1972 onward, including biographical details of key church builders and artists, and the establishment of institutions within GKPB that have played a pivotal role in promoting contextual art. Chapter two looks at the expansion of tourism in Bali and the important role this new economy played in creating a legitimated sphere for church participation in Balinese performing arts.

The second major section is more analytic in nature and illustrates some of the important social implications arising from the intersection of contextual art with touristic practice and ideology. Chapter three explores the contemporary association between localized musics, Hinduism, and constructs of Balinese identity. Finally, in chapter four theories of capital and social networks are explored as interpretive devices for understanding the social function of these interreligious interactions and the driving forces behind them. In particular, the notion that key actors in a given network may act as brokers between groups is explored as a model for understanding Christian/Hindu relations in Bali.



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