This study provides insight to the history and culture of the people of Bali, from prehistoric times to the present. Bali is a small tropical island in the centre of the Indonesian archipelago, prone to earthquakes and devastating volcanic activity, renowned for its natural beauty. Bali has been called the island of the Gods. It is the only area of Indonesia that remains predominantly Hindu, retaining elements from a rich cultural tradition when Indian influences penetrated the island over a thousand years ago. At the same time the Balinese have shown remarkable ability to blend the old with the new. After a description of the island's geography, the book describes the history of the Balinese people, from the earliest traces of human habitation, through the development of its ancient civilization, the influences of Tantric Buddhism and Hinduism, the subjugation of Bali by the Javanese empire, and the subsequent autonomy of the eight Balinese kingdoms for several centuries until the arrival of the Dutch during the first half of the nineteenth century. At this time the Balinese had a commercial and political power in south-east Asia out of all proportion to the size of their population. Separate chapters are then devoted to describing the social order, economy, religion and rituals, myth and the performing arts, and the indigenous medical system with special reference to the cosmic power and magic that it simultaneously life-destroying and life-giving. The book concludes with a history of Bali in the twentieth century, describing its enforced incorporation in the Dutch empire, its conquest by the Japanese, its liberation by the British and Australians, and in the post-war era its integration into the Indonesian nation-state. The authors show that transformation is continuing. Crucial factors inducing change are socio-economic processes of modernization. Even though members of the ritualised, communal society are progressively more directed by individual, profit-focused thinking, traditional Balinese society still places high value on communal achievement. At the beginning of the third millennium, visitors to Bali will find neither an exotic reservation nor a paradise. They will encounter a society that is continually seeking its own identity within changing frames of reference. The book is illustrated with forty-four superb photographic illustrations and three maps - all specially prepared for this volume. It is unquestionably the most comprehensive and accessible account of Bali and its people currently available in any language.
has a PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies, and is currently a lecturer at Goldsmiths' College, University of London. She is also Honorary Research Fellow in the Anthropology Department, University College, London. She is the author of Dancing Shadows of Bali
Urs Ramseyer studied cultural anthropology, sociology and musicology in Basle and Paris. He is the head of the South-East Asian Department at the Basle Museum of Ethnology. His previous books include The Art and Culture of Bali (1977).
Albert Leemann studied at the University of Zurich and the Alliance frantaise in Paris. He is Emeritus Professor of Social and Environmental Geography at the University of Znrich.