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Making Blood White

Historical Transformations in Early Modern Makassar

William Cummings

Publication Year: 2002

In this study of early modern Makassar in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, William Cummings traces the social, cultural, and political significance of the transition from oral to literate culture in one region of Indonesia. He examines "history-making"--the ways in which the past is perceived, interpreted, and used--at a crucial moment in early modern Makassar when conceptions of history are being transformed by the advent of literacy. Central to his argument is the notion that histories are not just records or representations of the past but are themselves forces or agents capable of transforming the worlds in which humans live. Not simply structured by the prevailing social, cultural, and ideological contexts in which they are made, they also shape these contexts. Making Blood White bears in important ways on the historiography of Southeast Asia in general and will be read by students of the region's history and anthropology as well as by those interested in the relationships of history, literacy, and politics in premodern Asia.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

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pp. vii-viii

This book was written on tables and desks overflowing with scribbled notes, printed drafts, and coffee cups in three countries. But it stubbornly refused to stay on those tables or in those notes and has occupied my thoughts and demanded attention at unpredictable moments every day for some five years. At the outset, then, I wish to thank...


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pp. ix

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A Note on Makassarese Language and Translation

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pp. xi-xiii

A translation is a reading that tries to make sense. My experience with translation is inevitably personal, formed out of encounters with languages not my own. These encounters include not only formal study and the struggle to read what seem cryptic and elusive texts, but haphazard experiences ranging from listening uncomprehendingly as an...

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Introduction: Making a History of Early Modern Makassar

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pp. 1-14

This work is a study of a transformation in history-making in early modern Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. Why this interest in such a topic in such a place and time? Even asking this question is a sign of the times. The study of history at the end of the twentieth century takes place within a context in which a debate over whether true...

Part I. History-Making

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1. Early Modern Makassar and Its Contexts

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pp. 17-34

This work examines changing ways of making histories in early modern Makassar, South Sulawesi, Indonesia. “Makassar” refers simultaneously to a language, those who speak it, and the region where they live. In contemporary terms, Makassar is a regional language, with approximately 1.5 million speakers, in the southern and western portions...

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2. Culture and History-Making

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pp. 35-57

This chapter examines the relationship between culture and history-making, an examination that goes to the heart of ethnographic history. In particular, I consider the role culture plays in contemporary history-making about early modern Southeast Asia, then the aspects of Makassarese culture that shaped the practice of history-making during...

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3. Transformations in Makassarese Perceptions of the Past

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pp. 58-90

This chapter examines the changes in Makassarese historical consciousness occasioned by the sixteenth-century advent of literacy. This addition of literate to oral history-making had dramatic effects, effects that are examined in detail in part 2. In essence, written composition and preservation of the past in a new form made the past...

Part II. Making History

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4. Historical Literacy and Social Hierarchicalization

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pp. 93-127

Part 2 of this work examines how the changing conceptions of history that literacy effected led to tangible and remarkable social, political, and cultural changes in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Makassar. Literacy, of course, was not the only force at work, and all historical change cannot be traced to it alone. But new ways of conceiving...

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5. Historical Literacy and Gowa as the Center of Makassar

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pp. 128-163

One of the great themes historians have found useful in explaining social and political change in early modern Southeast Asia concerns the catalytic events of expanding international commerce.

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6. Historical Literacy and Makassarese Culture

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pp. 164-194

Makassarese today are clear about what constitutes the core elements of their culture. Foremost and first mentioned among these fundamental values are honor and its obverse concomitant, shame (both encompassed by siriq). Closely aligned with these is the conscious emphasis placed on social solidarity (pacce), for honor and shame are...

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Conclusion: The Force of History

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pp. 195-205

Written texts affect social worlds in a multiplicity of ways. The social life of Makassarese historical manuscripts, a world very different from our own, has been the main focus of this work. It has not been about the impact of literacy in early modern Makassar. Rather, it is about how writing histories—one facet of literacy to be...

Appendix: Early Modern Rulers of Gowa and Talloq

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pp. 207-210


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pp. 211-235


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pp. 237-238


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pp. 239-252


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pp. 253-257

E-ISBN-13: 9780824863449
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824825133

Publication Year: 2002