This article examines the nature of interreligious relations between Protestants of the Bali Church and Hindus as enacted through dramatic forms of Balinese music and dance. Particular attention is paid to the influence of mass tourism as a contributing factor in this process. Since the early twentieth century these arts have formed a central component of a pan-Balinese identity discourse known as" kebalian." The first Balinese converted to Christianity during the 1930s and were subsequently excommunicated from their ancestral villages for refusing to participate in local customary practices (including the ritualistic use of gamelan music). For this reason, Balinese Christians have historically been regarded as “traitors” with no claim to kebalian. Since the 1970s, however, the Bali Church has employed local music and dance in a variety of church-based contexts as one means to “contextualize” congregational life. The adoption of these and other forms of local culture (ex. language, clothing) have reconfigured and challenged the existing parameters of a generally Hindu-centric kebalian. This has led to the formation of a religion(agama)/culture(budaya) dichotomy, which is often used as the intellectual underpinning for the arts as a tool of identity construction. The article concludes with an analysis of the contextualized musical drama, Tarian Perdamaian, to illustrate the practical complications of this dichotomy and suggests the theatrically situated “interreligious gaze” as a lens through which to better understand the parameters of twenty-first century interreligious relations in Bali.

Author Biography

Dustin Wiebe is a musician, scholar, and pedagogue and is presently completing a PhD in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University. His current research examines the role of gamelan music in the formation of interreligious music networks in Bali among Hindu, Christian, and Buddhist congregations. Dustin regularly presents his work at academic conferences throughout North America, Europe, and Southeast Asia. In 2009 he was awarded the Tuttle Prize for the best paper presentation at the SEM Niagara chapter meeting for his research on North American gamelan pedagogy. His articles on the relationship between Balinese arts, religion, and identity politics have been published by Brill, and Ashgate, and his research has been funded by grants from the Winnipeg and Manitoba Arts Councils, University of Rochester, and the Indonesian government. In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Dustin is also an active performer of Balinese music, and has played at venues and events throughout Indonesia, the United States, and Canada with appearances at Pesta Kesenian Bali (the Bali Arts Festival) and the Indonesian Embassy in Washington D.C. He received his MA and MMus (classical guitar performance) degrees from the Eastman School of Music, and his BMus (performance) from Canadian Mennonite University.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

video #1 - Entrance of the king.mp4 (24487 kB)
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Video #2 - _Accuser_.mov (16442 kB)
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Video #3 (the angelic).mp4 (27208 kB)
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Video #4 - The Blind and Lame.mp4 (25079 kB)
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