In her article “Bali’s Ethnic Arts Industry: Crafting Global Identities Amidst a National Tourist Agenda”, Jennifer Esperanza has addressed the theme of mass production and export of “ethnic” objects to the international markets. The author has found that Bali is the world centre for the production of this type of goods. Interestingly, the local craftsmen manufacture various types of ethnic arts from all over the world rather than the Balinese objects of ethnic culture only. To explore the audience’s understanding of how the manufacturing and trading process is organized, the author has visited a village in Bali entitled Tegallalang, where the largest portion of this work is being done.
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Visiting the craftsmen office, Esperanza has found all types of ethnic art objects from all over the world including Australian Aboriginal didgeridoo, Native American dream catchers, African masks, and, of course, Balinese artworks including the wooden statues, handmade masks, and shadow puppets. Studying the objects of art, the researcher has paid her attention to that encounters with the mass production of ethnic souvenirs belonging to different cultural backgrounds had its impact on Balinese ethnic art expanding its scope from the largely Hinduism-affected agenda to cosmopolitan approach.
The author has observed the formation of the new approach in Balinese culture shifting from the Hindu vision to metropolitan views and cosmopolitan implications. Esperanza has admitted that the tendency is seen in the production of ethnic arts currently. She has admitted that the tourist industry is mainly focused on the Hindu culture, but with the duration of time, she believes that this aspect of culture will also experience the strong impact of cosmopolitan tendencies. She has also noticed the impact of colonizers, the Dutch. However, she noted that this influence did not have an as powerful effect as the globalization process. Scaling the impacts that the Balinese culture has faced, Esperanza finally concluded that this island remains the embodiment of ethnic, cultural motives and is justly regarded as the “last paradise” for tourists (Esperanza 14).
Questions for Discussion
- On the example of Bali, can the commercial impact be considered harmful to the preservation of unique cultural traditions worldwide?
- What the expression “a uniquely Balinese character” can mean today in the light of present transformations under the influence of globalization?
- What phenomena in today’s Balinese culture make tourists believe that the island is the “last paradise”?
Esperanza, Jennifer. “Bali’s Ethnic Arts Industry: Crafting Global Identities Amidst a National Tourist Agenda.” Material Culture Review / Revue de la culture matérielle. 71 (2010): 14-23. Web.