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Authority and Enterprise among the Peoples of South Sulawesi, Roger Tol, Kees van Dijk, & Greg Acciaioli (eds.)

Leiden: KITLV Press, 2000, 285 p.
Sarah Turner
p. 127-129
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Roger Tol, Kees van Dijk, & Greg Acciaioli (eds.), Authority and Enterprise among the Peoples of South Sulawesi, Leiden: KITLV Press, 2000, 285 p.

Texte intégral

1This timely book provides a rich, predominantly historical overview of social and economic organization and change amongst the main ethnic groups of South Sulawesi. The key themes revolve around power and domination, especially in relation to trade. It includes not only those people located in their homeland of South Sulawesi, but also Bugis and Makassar groups that have been part of the diaspora beyond South Sulawesi, either still on the island of Sulawesi itself, or farther afield.

2The three editors – Roger Tol, a lecturer in language and literature; Kees van Dijk, an historian; and Greg Acciaioli, a social anthropologist – have brought together ten chapters, the first five providing rich historical insights into the societies of South Sulawesi, whilst the following two draw attention to significant past and current social behaviors within a specific group. The final three chapters, more geographically dispersed and all absorbing and noteworthy, examine, in turn, religious dynamics, market trade, and traders.

3After a general introduction and overview of the contributions, the first paper, by Christian Pelras, discusses the key ideas of patron-client relations in South Sulawesi. As these play a dominant role in nearly all aspects of daily life among the Bugis and Makassar, especially, it is a fitting start to the book. In the next paper, Anthony Reid takes us back in time to seventeenth-century Makassar, focusing on the ideas of “open” and “closed” societies, and on certain traits of Makassar society, such as receptivity to foreign traders and knowledge, suggesting that it could be classified as “open.” At a more micro level, Heather Sutherland’s case study on the trade in sea cucumbers examines complex trade relationships and the linked social organizations that extended from Makassar throughout Southeast Asia. The following paper, by the late J. Noorduyn, is based mainly on an ancient Bugis manuscript of extensive detail and investigates the Wajoq community (whose origins are 100 miles northeast of Makassar) in the city of Makassar. It focuses on social organization, especially the position and status of the matoa (elders) within this community, and comments on merchant activities. Roger Tol similarly uses an ancient Bugis text to examine the last Boné War (1905), and compares the accounts from this text with Dutch sources. He analyzes the reasons why the text’s construction led to its becoming an important account of the war, and discusses the social importance of being able to claim possession of such an account.

4At this stage, the book shifts directions to more anthropological accounts. The chapter by Birgitt Röttger-Rössler examines the importance of sacred heirlooms, highlighting the role of gender relations in socio-political and religious organization, and concludes that women, through a variety of religious and leadership roles, have significant authority in Makassar villages outside of the private domain. Also focusing on sacred heirlooms, the following chapter, by Martin Rössler, examines their role with regard to community rituals and leadership changes. An interesting part of this study is the analysis of the imposition of Dutch and, later, modern Indonesian state political structures, and the ways in which they have transformed local leadership authority, creating significant tensions and conflicts with traditional leaders.

5As noted earlier, the final three papers move beyond the southwestern peninsula of South Sulawesi. Chapter Eight, by Anton Lucas and Chris de Jong, focuses upon the Mukhdi Akbar movement on the island of Selayar, at the southern tip of South Sulawesi. This mystical religious movement, which arose between 1910 and 1920, underwent several phases: It was utilized by Dutch Protestant missionaries before the Second World War, and it continued under the Japanese occupation and the Dutch re-occupation period, and after the independence of Indonesia, until it was officially banned in 1966. The paper concludes with a study of the movement’s fate since 1966. In contrast, the following paper, by Greg Acciaioli, takes us back to the main island, and north to Lake Lindu, Central Sulawesi. It focuses on the migrant Bugis community there and the ways in which this society is constructed and organized, away from the homeland, through a number of social variables. It becomes clear that debt-based relationships play a key part in the Bugis fish marketing system in Lindu, as well as, more generally, in the process of Bugis settlement there. The final chapter, by R.Z. Leirissa, travels farther afield to examine the physical locations and occupational structures of the Bugis and Makassar migrant communities in two Moluccan harbor towns, Ambon and Ternate. After describing how, in both cases, the two groups occupied separate wards in the cities, it discusses their various occupations and contrasting roles as intermediaries in trade.

6Originating from a broad range of disciplines and utilizing various research methods, together these papers provide an in-depth, principally historical understanding of the social and trading organization of a set of societies in South Sulawesi. The historical leaning of the book, however, is not clearly apparent from the title and back-cover information. Perhaps it would have been worthwhile to round off the discussion with a chapter focused on more recent aspects of trade and mobility in the city of Makassar. The book has an extensive reference list, a valuable asset for any researcher in this field. And, as a whole, it constitutes an important contribution to our understanding of the social and economic organization of the peoples of South Sulawesi and, as such, will be valuable for any social science scholar researching these subjects.

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Sarah Turner, « Authority and Enterprise among the Peoples of South Sulawesi, Roger Tol, Kees van Dijk, & Greg Acciaioli (eds.) »Moussons, 4 | 2001, 127-129.

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Sarah Turner, « Authority and Enterprise among the Peoples of South Sulawesi, Roger Tol, Kees van Dijk, & Greg Acciaioli (eds.) »Moussons [En ligne], 4 | 2001, mis en ligne le 18 mars 2016, consulté le 25 juillet 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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Sarah Turner

University of Otago, New Zealand.

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