Journal Article

An “Old” Religion in “New Order” Indonesia: Notes on Ethnicity and Religious Affiliation

Anne Schiller

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 57, issue 4, pages 409-417
Published in print January 1996 | ISSN: 1069-4404
e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3711895
An “Old” Religion in “New Order” Indonesia: Notes on Ethnicity and Religious Affiliation

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This paper examines the relationship between state-controlled religious modernization and the construction of identity among Ngaju Dayaks, a rainforest people of Central Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. In 1980, Indonesia's Ministry of Religion recognized Ngaju indigenous religion, known as Kaharingan, as a variety of Hinduism. Thus, whereas in the past beliefs and practices associated with Kaharingan were deemed custom (adat), they are now considered religion (agama). The paper suggests that the reclassification of Kaharingan as religion has important implications for the negotiation of ethnic identity. Although most Ngaju have converted to world religions, a vocal and increasingly powerful minority now claim primordial status for Hindu Kaharingan as a constituent of Ngaju ethnicity. The paper concludes that the role of religion in ethnicity will continue to be contested, even as the peoples of this region seek to construct and portray themselves in a manner that will facilitate their participation in identity politics at both the local and national levels.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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