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Making Blood White

Making Blood White: Historical Transformations in Early Modern Makassar

Copyright Date: 2002
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  • Book Info
    Making Blood White
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6344-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  6. Introduction: Making a History of Early Modern Makassar
    (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 knowledge about the past is possible frames what historians write. Roughly portrayed, there is a struggle between a positivism bolstered by increasingly sophisticated methods of apprehending the facts of the past, and a relativism that denies the...

  7. Part I. History-Making

    • 1 Early Modern Makassar and Its Contexts
      (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 of the Republic of Indonesia’s South Sulawesi province. It is important to distinguish between all of Makassar and Gowa, the Makassarese polity that most dominated its neighbors and is now seen as the heartland of Makassarese culture and the main site of Makassarese historical developments. This study is centered on...

    • 2 Culture and History-Making
      (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 that period. I argue that awareness of Makassarese perceptions of language and the social position of written texts as sacred objects are central to understanding the progression from orality to literacy discussed in chapter³.

      Debate over the significance of culture in the past and in the histories made of it has a...

    • 3 Transformations in Makassarese Perceptions of the Past
      (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 available for use in novel ways. Before turning to these novel uses of the past, however, I explore how writing transformed Makassarese perceptions of the past.

      Scholars no longer argue that societies without writing are without history. Instead, it is widely recognized that spoken narratives about the history. Instead,...

  8. Part II. Making History

    • 4 Historical Literacy and Social Hierarchicalization
      (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 the past played often pivotal roles in shaping or giving form to the changes afoot in Makassar. This chapter examines the effects of the new ways of imagining the past that literacy sparked in creating a more hierarchical, ranked social order. The idea of a...

    • 5 Historical Literacy and Gowa as the Center of Makassar
      (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.¹ Put simply, ambitious rulers and would-be rulers along maritime trade routes benefited from a surge in world trade beginning perhaps in the fifteenth century. By providing facilities and controlling access to valued goods, these rulers grew wealthy in a way unavailable to their less strategically positioned rivals. From this new wealth flowed advantages as obvious as the ability to attract or pay large armies equipped with imported firearms and as subtle as...

    • 6 Historical Literacy and Makassarese Culture
      (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 bysiriq). Closely aligned with these is the conscious emphasis placed on social solidarity(pacce),for honor and shame are felt and defended by social groups as much as by individuals. Makassarese who lose their sense ofsiriqandpacceare social and cultural exiles, adrift and severed from their fellows.

      Pressed for further information, Makassarese explain that their culture rests on five pillars: first,adat (adaq):the customary norms...

    • Conclusion: The Force of History
      (pp. 195-206)

      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 sure—transformed history–making as a practice. The new status of the past, how it could be made present, and the effects of this new conceptualization are the heart of this transformation. Part 2 identified three major changes that transformed early modern...

    (pp. 207-210)
  10. NOTES
    (pp. 211-236)
    (pp. 237-238)
    (pp. 239-252)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 253-257)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 258-258)