International conference on Bali kicks off Monday
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The largest scale international conference on Bali, gathering more than 200 Bali specialists from around the globe, is finally being hosted for the first time on Balinese soil from Monday to Wednesday.
As part of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Udayana University, the July 16-18 international conference themed Bali in Global Asia; Between Modernization and Heritage Formation will be officially opened by Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika as he presents his keynote speech in the Ksirarnawa building at the Arts Center on Jl. Nusa Indah, Denpasar on Monday evening.
In the morning, before the conference starts, there will be a ceremony to scatter the ashes of the late documentary film director John Darling at the top of the path to Campuhan Temple in Ubud. The Australian-born Darling, who died of leukemia in 2011, filmed the documentary The Healing of Bali in 2002 with his wife Sara in response to the Bali Bombings. This film, which gives an intimate insight into the Balinese ways of grieving and healing, is planned to be screened later the same evening at the Arts Center.
“It has been quite a long time since the last international conference on Bali was held at the University of Sydney in 1995. This is an opportunity for Baliologists [specialists in Bali] to share their research. It is also a precious chance for the local scholars, who are studying Bali, to build wider academic networks with Baliologists worldwide,” conference organizing director Prof. I Nyoman Darma Putra told Bali Daily on Saturday.
Since the 1980s, there have been collaborative seminars held in Bali under the aegis of the Society for Balinese Studies. The first overseas conference was held in 1986 at the University of Leiden, the second at Princeton University in 1991, while the third was at the University of Sydney in 1995. In 2000, a special conference was held in Bali in honor of Baliologists Prof. Hildred Geertz and Prof. Ngurah Bagus.
“Compared to the 1995 conference, today’s conference will see more scholars from countries that used to not have scholars learning about Bali, like South Korea and Taiwan. We also received many research papers from Japanese Baliologists. To sum up, a new generation of Baliologists has emerged from countries as far away as Austria and Germany and we will better learn about their works through this conference,” said Darma Putra.
The conference has around 200 participants and also includes national scholars from Yogyakarta, Malang and Bandung. As many as 95 papers on Bali in relations to arts, mass media, environment, subak, heritage, politics and religion will be presented in panel discussions through Tuesday and Wednesday at the postgraduate building of Udayana University on Jl. Sudirman.
Among the highlighted panel discussions is Carol Warren’s research titled “Is Nothing Sacred? The Cultural and Environmental Politics of Development Regulations in Bali”. The Murdoch University’s Baliologist explores the 20-year-old and still ongoing debate between the religious and commercial sides of Bali’s tourism development.
As a lecturer in the literature department of Udayana University, Darma Putra will also present the two-year research on media and Balinese cultural identity, which explores the articulation of social concerns and cultural identity in the textual-singing tradition known as makidung in the sing-back radio and television programs in Bali.
Darma Putra, the author of Wanita Bali Tempo Doeloe Perspektif Masa Kini (Balinese Women from the Olden days by Today’s Perspective), cited that the presence of numerous Baliologists around the globe, had made Bali a popular subject for many reference books over the past decades. These include the classical book Island of Bali by Miguel Covarrubias, Clifford Geertz’s essay “Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight”, Adrian Vickers’ Bali, A Paradise Created and Travelling to Bali: Four Hundred Years of Journeys and Helen Creese’s Women of the Kakawin World: Marriage and Sexuality in the Indic Courts of Java and Bali.