Chapter

Politics and Community in Premodern History

Robert W. Hefner

in The Political Economy of Mountain Java

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 1990 | ISBN: 9780520069336
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520913769 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520069336.003.0002
Politics and Community in Premodern History

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Few areas of Java bear such visible traces of Southeast Asia's complex history as do the Tengger highlands. Drawn into a lowland-based Hindu–Buddhist state a thousand years ago, this is the only region in modern Java to have preserved an indigenous Hindu priesthood. After Hindu Majapahit's fall at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the centers of power on the island moved west to Muslim courts in Central Java, and the influence of lowland powers in the eastern mountain areas waned. For the next two centuries, politics and religion worked to isolate these mountain Javanese from their Muslim neighbors to the west. Isolated from the courtly influences that reshaped Central Javanese culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Tengger highlands awoke in the nineteenth century to find themselves forcibly reincorporated into a new and more powerful entity, the Dutch colonial state. It was this more than any other institution that shaped politics and community in the Tengger mountains at the dawn of the modern era.

Keywords: Tengger highlands; Java; Hindu; Muslim; Dutch colonial state

Chapter.  9495 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Anthropology

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