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 AA  Vol.11 No.1 , February 2021
The Dynamics of “Ethnic Boundary”: In the Identity of the Tengger Community of Madurese Descent
Abstract: Tengger people are known as those who are very obedient in carrying out traditional ceremonies and highly uphold honesty. The research problem in this dissertation is that people of Madurese descent prefer their main identity as Tengger people. Data collection uses observation methods involved and in-depth interviews. The results of the study concluded that the “ethnic boundary” or Tengger people’s social boundary was to have attributes, such as sarong, Tengger language, farming communities, and obediently carrying out traditional ceremonies, and having the value of those living in the Tengger region, hardworking, egalitarian, peace-loving and always doing good, obeying the leader and obeying the customary rules, maintaining family ties and being close to the spirit world. Madurese people carry out the process of “becoming Tengger” to get various accesses whose legality is owned by the original Tengger people. These accesses are social identity, market, capital, knowledge, through negotiations from other social relations, a better life and authority for the original Tengger people. The Tengger’s strong efforts to maintain “ethnic boundary” resulted in a social construction that depicted the Tengger region as a sacred area that only certain people could live in, which ultimately gave Tengger people full autonomy to manage their territory with minimal outside intervention.

1. Research Significant

Many ethnic groups in Indonesia claim for their rights for ownership of land and for harvesting natural resources within forest areas. Forest area itself covers about 63% of nation terrestrial areas. So far, the groups mention that they have been marginalized during the Soeharto’s era and this is the time to take things back to them. However, there is lack of understanding from the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to recognize the real ethnic group. It is important for the Ministry office to be able to distinguish the real and the one created for only certain purposes, since Erikson (2010: p. 26) explains that the study of ethnic identity conducted by researchers from educational institutions in Chicago found that “ethnic identities can be consciously manipulated and invested in economic competition in modern societies”.

I have been working in biodiversity conservation and protected areas management for more than 30 years. The thing becomes serious when forest areas that the groups claimed are mostly protected areas, the one with high biodiversity values and intact tropical rain forest ecosystem. To recognize ethnic groups, I am using the concept of “ethnic boundary” proposed by Barth. The concept is a constructivism approach which sees that political, social and economic reality influences ethnic group identity. Race, religion and ethnicity operate from the outside in, not from the inside out. Constructivism explores where reality comes from, with facts that can be empirically proven that it changes over time and is accepted differently in different spaces (Jung, 2006: pp. 366-367).

To further dig in the reasons behind selecting ethnic identity, I use the theory access presented by Ribot and Peluso (2003) in his writing “a theory of access” to further elaborate to what extend that outside elements influence the choice of ethnic group identity. Access is defined as the ability to benefit from “something”. “Something” in this case is in the form of material objects, people, institutions and symbols. The approach delivers the explanation in detail on matters materialized in terms of type of accesses.

My research subject is Tengger people who live around Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park, east Java Province, where people cannot distinguish which one is the real Tengger people, and which one is Madurese decent. I found out that by becoming a Tenggerese, a Madurese decent can have several accesses such as access to social identity, market access, access to capital, access to knowledge, access through negotiations from other social relations, access to a better life. By recognizing ethnic boundaries of group of people and the dynamic within, it is expected that the readers, especially from the government bodies, be able to recognize whether the ethnic group is originally existed or created for certain purposes only.

2. Background

Tengger people are an interesting group of people to study. Although the way they dress is not much different from the Javanese in general, in some ways they are different from other communities living in the East Java Province. In physical appearance, they always wear sarongs as everyday clothes. They are known as a community group that highly upholds honesty. There has never been a crime in their territory such as theft or murder. Houses are left with doors unlocked by residents. They are also very obedient in carrying out ceremonies, both religious ceremonies and traditional ceremonies, namely traditional ceremonies related to a person’s life cycle and ones involving all villagers and ceremonies involving all Tenggerese people. The Kasada ceremony is one of the great traditional ceremonies that become the main destination of tourist destinations in Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park.

Hefner (1999: p. 14) mentioned that Tengger people were known as the only Hindu group that avoided the wave of Islamization following the collapse of the last Hindu-Buddhist empire in the early sixteenth century AD. According to local tradition, a small number of people exiled to the Tengger Mountains. They are adherents of the Hindu-Tengger religion in the midst of the majority of Islam community in East Java Province.

Based on myths, the word of Tengger is believed to have originated from the merging of the names of their ancestors, Roro Anteng and Joko Seger. In another version, it is explained that the Tengger word means “tengering budi luhur” which is a sign or reflection of manners. For Tengger people, nobleness of character is an inner wealth that is priceless because it is only nobility that can save Tengger people from “kualat” which is a disaster that befell someone because they do not obey or deviate from local wisdom inherited by their ancestors (Sutarto, 2007: p. 34).

Tengger people believe that because of the area sacredness, words and behavior of those in the Tengger region will be rewarded. If the words and behaviors are positive, they will be realized and if they are bad, they will be punished. An example of a positive remark is from Ms. Mumun, a teacher at PGRI Junior High School in Ngadisari Village. She said that a few years before she became a teacher in the Tengger region, Mount Bromo was her favorite location for her family’s vacation. One day she once said to wish living in the Tengger region because of the air and the situation that was pleasing her. As a result, a few years later after she finished her teacher education school, she was placed as one of the teachers in the PGRI Junior High School. A negative example is an accident that made several tourists died hit by stones throw from the explosion of Bromo Crater in early 90’s. The late tourists were believed mocked the Tengger people’s beliefs.

The presence of Madurese descent in the Tengger region is explained by Hefner (1985: pp. 32-33) that during the 19th century, Madurese became the dominant ethnic group in the lowland areas around Probolinggo, Jember, Lumajang and Pasuruan due to their migration to various regions in Java. They migrated for working as laborers in coffee plantations belonging to VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie)1. The migration stopped at 1200 meters above sea level, since above that height coffee is no longer optimally grow and produce good beans.

The “coffee line” is the boundary for the settlement between Muslim groups from Madurese and Tengger groups. A “coffee warehouse” that is more than 200 years old is found in Sapikerep Village. It is now used as the hall of local elementery school. With an altitude of 1400 meters above sea level, Sapikerep Village is a “coffee line” as stated by Hefner.

Those who are of Madurese descent, although Muslim, when interacting with others introduce themselves as Tengger people, not as Madurese. This occurs due to a process that I refer to as “becoming Tengger”. “Becoming Tengger” is a process that is passed by a group of non-Tengger people to become Tengger people. Tengger’s dominant culture with a very strict social control has caused immigrants living in the Tengger region to have no choice but to do “becoming Tengger”. Social and administrative sanctions, such as expelled from the village, are one of the considerations for the migrants to make themselves Tengger people.

By making themselves Tengger people, migrants, especially Madurese, will be able to have various access that is only owned by Tengger people. For example, in certain Tengger villages, land puchasing and selling can only be done between Tengger people, not with outsiders. By becoming Tengger people, the migrants can be involved in this transaction. Another example is the character of the Tengger people who are synonymous with honesty. In the Tengger region transactions are mostly carried out verbally because everything is based on honesty and trust. By becoming a Tengger person, the opportunity for Madurese migrants to conduct economic transactions in the Tengger region will increase.

I will conduct an analysis of the social dynamics that occur in the Tengger community in Sapikerep Villa and Ngadisari Village using the theory proposed by Barth (1969), who saw ethnic groups as a social organization. A social organization will move dynamically. It was built, strengthened and even dissolved at the agreement of its members. According to Barth, in a social organization there is a “social boundary” that is an invisible boundary that contains symbolic things that signify social movements in it. These symbolic things are the criteria agreed upon by members of the social group to determine who is “us” and who is “them”. These criteria can be in the form of physical characteristics or attributes that indicate identity such as clothing and language, and non-physical or psychological characteristics such as hardworking and upholding honesty. The existence of a social organization, in this case the Tengger ethnic group, is very depending on how the members of the social organization maintain their “social boundaries”. In other words, efforts to maintain social boundaries are also an effort to maintain the continuity of the Tengger’s identity. Strict social control carried out by Tengger adat leaders and village officials is an example of how social boundaries are maintained.

“Becoming Tengger” will require a Madurese descendant to penetrate the “social boundary” of Tengger people. One must fulfill all the requirements or criteria set out to be able to become a Tengger. Those who are of Madurese descent must show at public space that they have fulfilled the criteria needed to “become Tengger”, including normative things such as honesty, obedience to leaders, and things that are attributed, such as using sarong for clothing daily. By showing the required criteria, they are expected to be accepted by the original Tengger as part of them. I will explain further in this dissertation the dynamics that occur within the social boundaries that explain the process of “becoming Tengger”.

To understand why those who are of Madurese descent prefer to become Tengger people as their main identity, I use the theory access presented by Ribot and Peluso (2003) in his writing “a theory of access”. Access is defined as the ability to benefit from “something.” “Something” in this case is in the form of material objects, people, institutions and symbols. Any accesses obtained by those of Madurese descent by using the identity as a Tengger will be explained in this dissertation. From the results of my analysis, some of the access that can be reached by Madurese migrants by changing their identity to Tengger include access to social identity, access to knowledge, access through negotiations from other social relations, access to a better life, access to capital, and access to market.

Hefner (1985: p. 10) in his book has mentioned Barth’s theory of “ethnic boundary” but he rejected such concept and stated that Tengger ethnicity is not built as a result of social interaction with other ethnic groups. He considered that Tengger villages can maintain differences with other villages in East Java Province because the villages are not too visible on the surface. He said “the distinctive quality of Tengger society revealed themselve not in interaction with outsiders, but in the less visible world of the village”. For him, efforts to maintain social boundaries or “boundary maintenance” in Tengger people were nonexistent and not needed

In contrast to my opinion that “ethnic boundary” works within the Tengger community, Hefner (1985: pp. 10-11) instead mentioned matters which are the reasons why the Tengger people have no social boundaries namely:

1) There is no difference with other communities in the Java region in terms of technology, farming skills and traditional knowledge

2) Having similar social and political processes with other Javanese regions, including various aspects of social organization in rituals such as delivering invitations, mobilizing labor, exchanging food and others.

3) The economic and political ties between Tengger and non-Tengger people appear to be stronger than among Tengger people themselves.

4) Tengger never considered their religion a different religion, but was a religion of the Majapahit period before the arrival of Islam. They believe that their religion is a legacy from Java in general.

5) Tengger people are very eager to adopt the Javanese style in general, and they are less conservative in terms of dress, economic aspirations, educational attitudes.

6) Indeed there are differences in style in Tengger language compared to Javanese, but the language is used only for closeness with fellow Tengger people, not when interacting with outsiders.

For Hefner (1985: pp. 259-265), due to the entry of Islam, the Tengger people adapted in several ways:

1) Adjust the mythical story of Ajisaka which is connected with the Prophet Muhammad, in several versions. Ajisaka itself is a Javanese mythical story in general.

2) Adopting things related to Islam, such as circumcision, changes the “Japa mantra” by mentioning the Prophet Adam in it and symbolizing Ujung Dance as a form of conflict between Buddhism and Islam.

3) Declaring the Tengger religion as a Hindu religion meant that the Tengger religion could be recognized by the world.

Hefner conducted his research in Gubuk Klakah Village, Malang Regency. I conducted a study in Sapikerep Village and Ngadisari Village, Probolinggo Regency. Ngadisari Village is known as the “South” village which still adheres to the Hindu-Tengger religious principles and rituals.

This research is not intended to repeat what Hefner has done in his two books, but rather is complementary with a different approach. When Hefner rejected Barth’s “ethnic boundary” theory, I used the theory as the basis of my analysis. The ability of Tengger people to maintain their identity and values, in a global world, in my opinion is one form of maintaining boundary maintenance in the theory presented by Barth. In fact, indeed, much of the information collected by Hefner is not very different from the empirical evidence that I observed during my research. The difference is in the way it is disclosed.

3. Research Problems

Research problems can be detailed into several research questions:

1) Why do people of Madurese descent prefer their main identity as Tengger people?

2) How did the original Tengger people accept people of Madurese descent to become part of the Tengger ethnic group?

3) What strategy is used by people of Madurese descent to be able to penetrate the social boundaries of the Tengger people to be able to convince the original Tengger people that even though they are Muslims they are still Tenggerese?

4. Research Purposes

The aim of this study theoretically is to explain the dynamics of the concept of “ethnic boundary” proposed by Barth (1969) to people of Madurese descent who went through the process of “becoming Tengger”, namely adopting the “ethnic boundary” of the original Tengger people. I developed the concept of “etnic boundary” based on the findings in the field. The results of this study enrich the results of previous studies on Tengger people by Hefner (1985) who at that time rejected the concept of “ethnic boundary”. The theory of access proposed by Ribot and Peluso (2003) is used as a basis for exploring the things that underlie the decision of Madurese people to “become Tengger”. The development of the concept of ethnicity in the field of anthropology by Erikson (2010) is also used in the analysis, which explains that although primordial concepts are still important in the definition of ethnicity, the concept of ethnicity is currently liquid and strongly related to political, economic and social interests.

Practically the research aims to provide suggestions that Government Institutions related to traditional groups can review the ethnicity status of the groups before agreeing to the various rights claimed by them, such as control of customary forests. This is important to maintain the function of the forest and avoid claims for the rights of indigenous peoples aimed only at political and economic interests.

5. Theoretical Review

Barth (1969: p. 13) sees ethnic groups as a social organization in which the process of recruiting members or issuing membership must go through a series of assessment processes carried out by its members. Barth calls it “self-ascription” when someone determines himself to belong to a particular ethnic group. At the same time, he must be willing to be assessed by other members whether he still meets the criteria as a member of the ethnic group or in other words he agrees to “description by others”.

According to Barth (1969: p. 14), the important things that exist in a ethnic group are not only attributes that clearly distinguish one ethnic group from another or what they say as “overt signals or signs”, for example language, clothing, the shape of the house or way of life, but also the orientation of basic values such as the standard of morality and goodness used to judge one another.

Barth (1969: p. 14) also said that the ethnic group provides an organization vessel that can give various amounts and forms of content from different socio-cultural systems. As an ascriptive group, the continuity of ethnic units depends on itamaintenance or “boundary maintenance”. Cultural attributes that indicate the boundary or distinctiveness of a ethnic group, may change, cultural characteristics of ethnic groups or forms of ethnic organization, may change, but how to distinguish between ethnic group members and outsiders illustrates the existence of ethnic groups. The boundaries of the ethnic groups canalized the social life of a group of people. This means that this contains complex arrangements for the behavior and social relations of fellow members of ethnic groups.

These categories form the social boundaries of ethnic groups or “ethnic boundary” in Barth’s concept. When someone identifies another person whether the person is from the same ethnicity or ethnic identity, this implies certain criteria agreed upon to evaluate and to be evaluated. From here we can understand how a ethnic group maintains its social boundaries or “boundary maintenance” so that ethnic groups maintain the cultural units they have, including the attributes and moral values they have. Suparlan (2005: p. 5) calls the boundaries of ethnic groups as social boundaries.

The concept of “ethnic boundary” proposed by Barth in 1969 continuesly developed in its interpretations in accordance with its application to various social studies in many countries. One of them, Anttonen (2003: p. 51) explains that according to Barth, ethnic identity or ethnicity is related to social relations between ethnic groups, and ethnic identification is based on definitions of oneself that are built on life experiences. Therefore, in the analysis of ethnic groups, what needs to be considered is the formation and maintenance of social boundaries. Invisible boundaries which are very important social products.

Conversi (1999: pp. 553-554) says that in general there are 2 (two) main concepts proposed by Barth, namely “ethnic boundary” and “ethnic content”. “Ethnic boundary” describes the perceptions of ethnic identity and its boundaries, or is related to psychology, while the last is the culture itself that looks visually. In other words, differences in ethnic boundary and ethnic content are differences that are parallel between the subjective dimension and the objective dimension.

Suparlan (2005: p. 5) says that social boundaries will remain and be sustainable, because the characteristics of ethnic groups as an ascriptive social group will be realized as ethnicity, are fundamental and profound, and obtained by every member of the group members since the time of one birth, through enculturation and socialization. These social boundaries determine whether a person enters a particular ethnic group or is categorized as a foreigner.

Using Barth’s concept of “self-ascription”, then Chai (2005: p. 375) defines ethnic identity as “encompassing all ascriptive-based group boundaries including those based upon race, religion, language and/or region”. Now characteristics such as religion, language and region are more seen as something that is ascriptive, that is through the process of internalization to be accepted by oneself, no longer as a component of culture. This is because these characteristics are used to determine the lineage and ancestors, not as the practices carried out at this time. For example, even if someone has changed religion, a different language or lives in a different area, it is difficult for him to change his ethnic identity. For example, Chinese people in the United States, currently speaking, religious, behaving and understanding moral values as Americans in general, they are still seen as Chinese ethnic groups.

Conversi (1999: pp. 553-584) in his article “Nationalism, boundaries and violence” discusses how the concept of building “boundary” is related to the process of forming a country, because “boundary” is built to bind its members. Quoting Gellner’s opinion, the state and political power must be in line, namely that those who regulate and be regulated are from the same ethnic/national group. In other words, the state must become ethnicised. Social boundary is said to be normative because it has the power to regulate, determine and prohibit. In nationalist mythology, a country is defined as an entity that is bound, limited and be limited. The construction of the state of Israel is an example of how the strength of “ethnic boundary” is translated in the form of national boundaries. However, although today many cultures persist as minorities, Oldenquist (2002: p. 278) states that the majority of ethnic groups in the world will not build their own countries, even though for example they get support from the UN, for various reasons. One of them is because they do not feel pressured to survive economically, even if they feel pressured, they prefer asking for greater autonomy, such as the Indian tribes in America.

Nash (2005: p. 7) says social movements around the world by traditional groups have the main goal of obtaining autonomous regions where they can regulate themselves as the majority in the region, but still have representation in the national government arena as he said as follows: “they seek regional self-government in areas where they constitute a majority with direct representation in national arenas”. Not only minority ethnic groups, other social movements by women, factory workers, immigrants and others are seeking voices and an autonomous region for themselves as he said “the theme running through social movement of the first twenty centuries is the right of participants to be themselves” (Nash, 2005: p. 22).

Oommen (1995: p. 142) says “to sustain boundaries is to maintain identity”, In fact the social boundary is an arena of contestation. Old and existing social boundaries will be constantly contested and sacralized. New social boundaries will be created and sacred. The falling-up process, construction-deconstruction will always occur in every type of social boundary such as biology, psychology, geography, culture, social, political and economic as part of the transformation of human civilization.

The rise and fall of a social boundary can be caused by external factors or internal factors. On external factors, the pressure to generalize, homogenizing culture is the main cause of the emergence of fascist movements in many countries, such as Italy and Germany. At a time when cultural distinctiveness was suppressed to be eliminated, violence then spread in the form of mass mobilization. Prolonged conflicts will also encourage national identity to become more rigid. Conflict or war that constantly strengthens one national identity. In this case, violence in the form of war contributes to building and strengthening the ethnic identity of each social group. For example in Bosnia, Rwanda and Kurdistan (Conversi, 1999: p. 568).

“Usually the traditional group consists of elders called “traditional elites”, which function as guardians of culture (Wong, 1977: p. 9). They become members, administrators or leaders in various traditional organizations that allow them to exercise control over the conditions and social actions that occur within the ethnic groups. Various strategies will be developed by this group of elders to maintain and increase group membership, and when interacting with other parties politically, socially and economically. As traditional Chinese ethnic groups in New York City use wealth, influence and connections to defend their group members”.

Barth stated the need for “overt signals or signs” to determine the entry of a person into an “ethnic boundary”. Blanton (2015: p. 2) relates this statement to the theory of collective action. In this theory human subjects are seen as rational social actors. Rationally, one sees cooperation as a rational action for the purpose of fulfillment, both self-interest and group interests. In a world full of competition, efforts to gain access, manage and maintain control over available resources are needed. One strategy to get this is to build a collaborative group. Through this cooperative group mutual benefits will be obtained, because the efforts made by each member will be supported by other members, for the sake of mutual interests. Therefore the construction of ethnic groups is one of the institutional strategies that makes it possible to form social cooperation groups.

In order to be accepted and trusted by a social cooperation group, one needs to visually display signals that indicate that one belongs to the social group category. These signals include a comprehensive commitment to all lifestyles including the consumption of material cultures that are specific to certain ethnic groups (clothing, food, jewelry, etc.) and publicly display good language and cunning skills, and other commitments such as participation in public rituals, and behaving properly in public (Blanton, 2015: p. 2).

In the view of adherents of the Barth or Barthian concept, social life is a complex series of economic transactions between individual social actors, where they have the same goal of maximizing interests or achieving them through strategic choices (Erickson & Murphy, 2003: p. 144). Barth found that in the small ethnic group Pathan, based on political considerations, they were part of the Baluch ethnic group; based on economic considerations, they were part of ethnic Kohistanis, and they still referred to themselves as a Pathan group (Barth, 1969: p. 24).

The ethnicity model proposed by Barth provides elasticity for the identification of ethnicities where groups of people can and do change in ethnicity based on certain conditions and environments. Those who embrace primordialism strongly oppose the concept proposed by Barth. Abner Cohen even accused Barth of being “the sin of primordialism” (Jenkins, 1997: p. 45).

The concept of “ethnic boundary” proposed by Barth is a constructivism approach which sees that political, social and economic reality influences ethnic group identity. Race, religion and ethnicity operate from the outside in, not from the inside out. Constructivism explores where reality comes from, with facts that can be empirically proven that it changes over time and is accepted differently in different spaces (Jung, 2006: pp. 366-367).

Changing ethnic identity is something that happens throughout the world. Erikson (2010: p. 26) explains the study of ethnic identity conducted by researchers from educational institutions in Chicago, as he said:

Chicago School have proved to be of lasting value in the study of ethnicity: they showed that ethnic relations are fluid and negotiable; that their importance varies situationally; and that, for all their claims to primordiality and cultural roots, ethnic identities can be consciously manipulated and invested in economic competition in modern societies.

In the past few years, the concept of “boundary” has become the center of the agenda for studies in anthropology, history, political science, social psychology, and sociology. In their article they explain developments that add value to this concept, especially regarding the study of relational processes in the fields of 1) social and collective identity: 2) class, ethnicity/race, and sex/sex inequality: 3) profession, knowledge, and science: and 4) society, national identity, and spatial boundaries (Lamont & Molnar, 2002: p. 167).

Conversi (1999: p. 554), added that “ethnic boundary” became popular as study material, especially by the postmodern, because it does not have absolute certainty or perhaps even never existed. For him, “boundary” is seen as something that is not certain. As Gagnier (2004: p. 405) says that tolerance, flexibility and criticism of the “boundary” can be referred to as a work of art.

To understand why those who are of Madurese descent prefer their main identity as Tengger people, I conducted an analysis using the concept delivered by Ribot and Peluso (2003) in his article “a theory of access”. Access is defined as the ability to benefit from “something”. In this case, something is a material object, people, institutions and symbols. This definition is extended from the definition of property or ownership, namely the right to benefit from something. Following this definition, access is then equal to “bundle of powers” compared to ownership ideas in the form of “bundle of rights”.

6. Research Methods

The research was done in two villages, Sapikerep village and Ngadisari Village, Sukapura District, Probolinggo Regency, East Java Province, Republic of Indonesia. In the first 3 (three) months, I stayed in Ngadisari Village. On the advice of my first promoter, I moved to Sapikerep Village with a population that had a more diverse religion, compared to Ngadisari Village which 99% are Hindus. In the village I lived with a family who is the sister of a national park officer, who also functioned as my “gate keeper”. From that family, I was introduced to members of his extended family, friends, members of the study group of mothers, neighbors, village leaders, religious leaders, respected people in Sapikerep Village, and then I visited them for in-depth interviews.

There were 68 people I interviewed and mentioned their names as alias in my dissertation. There were some more that I met in various events. Starting from that family, my informant developed. Those I visited included ladies as member of recitations, chief of local neighborhood, chief of village, Dukun Pandita (Hindu Tengger Priests), religious leaders for both Muslim and Hindu, local teachers, members of religious groups, and more others. After the interview then they invited me to visit their friends and relatives, and be involved in various events such as traditional ceremonies or social gathering. Sanja-sanja or visiting each other is something that is routinely done almost every day by Tengger people in their villages, whether visiting relatives, friends or neighbors. Because my family is a Muslim family, then I became part of the Muslim community of the village, especially those related to the family that I lived in.

In order to be “immerse” with the village community, I tried to build friendship or “rapport” with them. The friendly and open character of the village community makes it easy for me to do so. In general, the Tengger people are happy to be visited because sanja-sanja or visiting each other between friends, neighbors and family members is their routine activity every day. It is also seen from their enthusiasm to receive me at home. Some women who don’t speak Indonesian still try to chat with me while still using Tengger language.

Data collection is done by in-depth interviews and observations involved. Both techniques are applied in formal and informal interactions with informants who are selected using the snow ball method. To conduct in-depth interviews, I came to visit their homes, or interview when there was free time at certain ceremonies. For the “key informants”, I visited them for interviews several times to get more detailed information. In conducting the observations involved, I tried to participate in every activity carried out by the homeowner’s lady that I lived in including participating in routine social activities such as being involved in conversations when family friends or relatives came to visit, participating in weekly recitation events, coming along at village events, participate in bethean or cook with village women to prepare meals for weddings for family members, neighbors or friends, engage in worship and celebration of Muslim and Hindu holidays, and go to the agricultural fields.

During data collection, at least I needed 2 hours to do an interview for each informant. But mostly it took 4 to 5 hours depending on how interesting the interview was. I normally visited the informants during afternoon after working hour, as they are in field throughout the day. I would visit them again when I needed more information. The more I visited them, the more they treated me as part of their family. On the first visit, the informant will serve me with a glass of coffee and some snacks. We had a talk at the living room. For the next visits, the informant will then ask me to make my own coffee and we had a chat at the kitchen. It is good since it is the sign of being “immerse” with their family. They also liked to invite me having meals/dinner together with their family. I must eat because declining the invitation means an insult for them. When necessary, I stayed over night at the informant’s house for several days, following them wherever they go, such as the Dukun Pandita (the Hindu Tengger Priest). When more people knew about my existence, as a research student, wherever I go people will ask me to stop by visiting their houses and having a meal. Tengger people are such a nice people. A problem arose when I followed the local leader visiting 10 houses in one night during Karo festival. Having no experience in measuring the amount of meals, I could not breathe as I must eat in those 10 houses.

7. Research Results

7.1. The Ethnic Boundary of Tengger People’s

Related to “ethnic content” by using the attributes, the so-called Tengger people are those who: 1) wear sarong, 2) speak “Tengger language”, 3) farmer/agrarian society, 4) have various rituals adat that is related to a person’s life cycle (birth, marriage, death) and shared interests (village clean, Karo Hari Raya, Yadnya Kasada Hari Raya). The “ethnic boundary” relating to moral values possessed by Tengger people are 1) residing in certain geographical locations, namely the Tengger region, 2) Diligent and hardworking, 3) peace and always do good, 4) egalitarian, 5) obeying the leader and obeying the customary rules, 6) keeping family ties and 7) close to the spirit world.

Tengger people maintain their social boundaries by activating attributes, exercising social control, maximizing the important role of formal and non-formal leaders, and carrying out traditional ceremonies as a unifying Tengger identity.

Those who are of Madurese descent, to be accepted as Tengger people must activate the attributes that are the criteria of the Tengger people such as using a sarong and Tengger language. They must also have a commitment to the entire lifestyle of the Tengger people, including the consumption of material cultures that are specific to certain ethnic groups (clothing, food, jewelry, etc.) and show publicly good language and cunning skills, as well as commitments others such as participation in public rituals, and behaving properly in public, as explained by Blanton (2015: p. 3).

Social control is then implemented to ensure that those who claimed to have the identity of the Tengger people are truly committed as the Tengger people. I analyze that the social controls applied to the Tengger people have several approaches, namely administrative sanctions, social sanctions and gossip. The executors of social control are religious leaders, traditional leaders, village officials, and the Tengger people themselves. Gossip is also used as a tool for social control. Gossiping is the most favored activity when the Tengger people are visiting to each other. Therefore gossip about someone spreads quickly from one village to another. Not only threatening and punishing, formal and informal village leaders also invited their citizens to participate in traditional Tengger events through a family approach.

7.2. Ethnic Boundary of Madurese People

Wiyata (2013: p. 2) says that most Madurese or about 52.29% of Madurese migrate out of the island of Madura. To better understand the reasons behind the Madura-Tengger people change their identity to become Tengger, I feel the need to explain the concept of Madurese identity in general. The concept of Madurese identity includes Madura is Islam, has a high work ethic, has a bond of brotherhood between relatives, has the ability to master the local language and adhere to the four main figures namely Buppa, Babbu, Guru, and Rato (father, mother, teacher, and government leader).

With full awareness, the Madura decents define their identity to merge as Tengger people. Even stories about the relationship between Syech Siti Jenar and Aji Saka were built to confirm why there are Tengger people who are Muslim. Mrs. Icih, the hostess of the house where I stayed in Sapikerep Village, said that Tengger is her home, while in Madura, she had no one else. Pak Sudrajat, Secretary of the Sapikerep Village, also predicted that the reluctance of Madurese young people in the 5th generation to learn the Madura language and prefer their identity as Tenggerese, is probably caused by many negative characteristics of Madurese people. According to him: “Children are now more happy to be called Tenggerese than Madurese, maybe they ashamed, too much negative to be Madurese”.

The similarity of ethnic boundaries between Tengger people and Madurese people show in the table below.

The 4 items in the table above are the ethnic boundaries of original Tengger people and Madurese people which crossing to each other. Therefore, for a Madurese, being a Tenggerese means nothing but strengthening her/his own ethnic boundary.

The other ethnic boundary belong to Tengger people such as 1) wearing sarong, 2) farming community, 3) obediently carrying out traditional ceremonies, 4) having the value of those living in the Tengger region, 5) egalitarian, 6) peace-loving and always doing good, and 7) being close to the spirit world; are the things that have to be adopted by the Madurese as part of their ethnic boundary to become a Tenggerese.

Another ethnic boundary belong to the Madurese is being a Moslem. They will watch each other back to remind the other Madurese that s/he has to maintain their religion as a Moslem. This is important since divorces and marriages often occur within the communities, for both Madurese (Moslem) and Tengger people (Hindu).

8. Becoming Tengger

8.1. The Process of “Becoming Tengger”

“Becoming Tengger” is to adopt the “ethnic boundary” of the original Tengger people, such as activating the attributes of the Tengger people, adopting and practicing the lifestyle and moral values of the Tengger people. In this case “becoming Tengger” describes how the Tengger people’s social boundaries and the social boundaries of Madurese descent are interconnected and cross to each other. Symbols within the social boundaries which are the criteria of each ethnic identity, conform to each other or dominate each other. As Cohen (2000: pp. 6-7) said, social boundaries provide opportunities for social engagement that cross social boundaries between ethnic groups and observations about functions and perceptions of social boundaries can only be recognized through very detailed research. Social boundaries not only distinguish between “us” and “them” but the dynamics within are an important process of how an ethnic identity is built, maintained or eliminated.

Furthermore Erikson (2010: p. 98) said that “ethnicity appeared together with capitalism in many parts of the world”. Ethnicity is now used by social groups as a way to win economic competition in a global world dominated by capitalism. “Becoming Tengger” by those of Madurese descent, is one example of how ethnicity is manipulated and used as an investment to get various benefits. Benefits obtained by those who are of Madurese descent when “becoming Tengger” is discussed by using the access theory.

There are three stages of process through which those of Madurese descent to become Tenggerese people. First, those who are born and live in the Tengger region will automatically be part of the Tengger people. Second, they will show attributes that indicate that they are Tengger people, for example by using sarongs and talking by using Tengger language and believe in the moral values that Tengger people uphold such as upholding honesty. Third, they will support the Tengger traditional ceremonies by taking part in the social and religious activities of the Tengger people.

Mr. Solihin, the Ngadisari Village Chief in 2010 also said the same thing, that anyone who was born and settled in the Tengger region is a Tenggerese person. No exception, those who are Muslim, Hindus and Christian, while living and settling in the Tengger region, will become Tengger people. The Tengger people believe that the Tengger region is a sacred area that has religious magical power in it where the supernatural powers of the patron’s ancestral spirits work to supervise, remind and punish if the Tenggerese out of agreed norms. The ancestors were family ancestors, village ancestors and the ancestors of Raden Kusuma who resided in the crater of Mount Bromo. The Tengger people believed that those who were born and settled in the Tengger region were the grandchildren of Raden Kusuma and they would always be protected. This is stated in the will of Raden Kusuma which was read by Dukun Pandita at every celebration of Yadnya Kasada.

Bu Icih, a Madura decendant, the owner of the house that I lived in, when Mount Bromo erupted in 2011 which caused the whole farm fileds covered by sand, saying: “it is impossible that Raden Kusuma will harm his own grandchildren”. The Tengger people, including the Tenggerese of Madura descent, believe that even though Mount Bromo erupted, Raden Kusuma as an ancestor would never harm them, since they are the grandchildren of Raden Kusuma.

Accepting anyone born and living in the Tengger region as a Tengger does not in fact make the population of the Tengger village sharply increase. The population of Sapikerep and Ngadisari villages is relatively stable from 2010 to 2017. Based on data from the Statistic of Sukapura District, the population of Sapikerep Village was 1283 people in 2010 and 1286 people in 2017. Likewise Ngadisari Village, the population has even decreased slightly from 1560 people in 2010, to 1557 people in 2017. This is because the Tengger family has an average of only one child. Some of the reasons behind this are the high cost of ceremonies that must be spent on a child and the mother only has limited time because of the heavy work in the fields.

To show that Madurese descents have become Tengger people, public places are an important place for Madurese descents to show their identity as Tengger people. In these public places, besides activating the attributes that indicate that they are Tengger people, they also behave appropriately as Tengger people. For example, even though they are Muslim, the Tengger people of Madurese descent use Balinese sarongs everyday as the original Tengger people. They also use Tengger language to communicate with the original Tengger people. Common people such as tourists cannot distinguish the original Tenggerese and the one of Madura decent at Mount Bromo tourist sites, because they all use Balinese-style sarongs and talk using Tengger language among them.

Madurese descendants who are Muslim like Mr. Elan and Madam Ade also carry out walagara traditional ceremonies when marrying their children. Obedience to adat is one of the criteria of the Tengger people that are within the ethnic boundary of Tengger people. Those of Madurese descent are aware that in order to be accepted as Tenggerese people, they also have to prove that they are obedient in carrying out adat. They continue to hold the walagara traditional ceremony with an argument that it has been “customary”. During walagaraceremony, Tengger people usually invite hundreds to thousands of people from various villages to celebrate the ceremony. The venue of the ceremony is an arena of interaction which is also a “public place” used to prove the identity of the Madura descents as Tengger people. Even if a Muslim family does not carry out a walagara traditional ceremony, at a wedding party, in addition to providing entertainment programs such as tayub, they keep serving alcoholic beverages such as beer in limited quantities.

Traditional ceremonies are not only related to a person’s life cycle, such as circumcision and marriage, but also to traditional ceremonies involving many people such as Karo and Yadnya Kasada. Madurese decents support and participate in the ceremonies implementation as proof that they had become Tengger people.

Those of Madurese descent in their daily lives also take part in various activities, both social activities and religious activities, even though their religion is different. Those who are of Madurese descent merge into the daily activities of the Tengger people to strengthen their identity as Tengger people, such as mutual cooperation activities, celebration activities, whether religious or adat activities. Ms. Ratih termed is “always share”. The location of these activities is a public place, where the Madurese decents show their identity as Tengger people.

In addition to activating the Tengger people’s attributes, obeying traditional rules and voluntarily carrying out traditional ceremonies, Tenggerese people of Madurese descent also behave appropriately as Tenggerese people. They uphold honesty and help each other with fellow villagers. Many Tengger families were lack of food when the Sapikerep Village was covered by Mount Bromo volcanic sand and dust in 2010-2011 when it erupted. Volcanic sand and dust caused farm fields to dry out and cannot be planted. Those who have food will share with their closest neighbors. I heard Ms. Icih, the owner of the house I lived in, offering a portion of the cabbage she had to the neighbor behind the house to eat that day.

The similarities of the “ethnic boundary” between the Madurese and the original Tengger people such as hard-working, close family ties and obedient to parents, religious leaders and community leaders, is the “bridge” that breaks through the social boundary between the original Tenggerese with Madurese decents. These similarities are located in a social spaceas the overlaping of each ethnicboundary containing the criterias of each ethnicity. The similarity of social boundaries made the Madurese who came to Tengger region to be quite easy merging their identity as Tengger people because they did not have to bother to make changes.

Changing identity into another ethnic identity is not new to Madurese migrants. As Taufiqurrahman (2007: pp. 5-6) said, when their economic status increased, the Madurese “disarmed” their identity and characteristics of ethnicity inherent in them. In fact, sometimes they also hide the use of Madurese language among ethnic groups. Such sociological conditions are rarely found in other ethnic communities in Indonesia.

8.2. Accesses Obtained

By “becoming Tengger”, those of Madurese descent will get various accesses, namely access to social identity, access to knowledge, access through negotiations from other social relations, access to a better life, access to capital, and access to market. These accesses are benefits obtained by those Madurese descents when announcing to the world that they have an identity as Tenggerese people. In the end these accesses are the main consideration for Madurese decents to change their identity to become Tenggerese people. In other words, for economic and social interests as illustrated by the access that can be obtained, those who are of Madurese descent “becoming Tengger” which is to adopt the ethnic boundaries of the Tengger people, who are the dominant culture in the Tengger region, without having to lose their original identity as Madurese. Related to access to social identity, in the early 80’s, being Tenggerese made people feel isolated and inferior, because Tengger was identical with backwardness. But now the situation is different. Tengger people are now known as those who are still obedient in carrying out traditional ceremonies. Tengger conditions which are peaceful, safe and secure without any crime, begins to be appreciated by many people. Tengger people are famous for their honesty. Contrast with the area of Probolinggo Regency below which has a high crime rate.

Now the Tengger people are a source of information for journalists from various mass media and students who conduct research in the Tengger region to inquire about traditional ceremonies conducted in the Tengger region. Being a Tenggerese gives Madurese decent access to knowledge.

Production of vegetables from the Tengger region does not need to be brought to the market, because buyers will come directly to the farmers. Some rich Tengger farmers bought neighboring vegetable production and sold it to the city. Being a Tenggerese gives Madurese decent access to market.

Regarding access through negotiations from other social relations, the Tengger people uphold honesty. They do not want to harm others. The houses were unlocked when the owner left them to the fields because they believed that no one would enter the house to steal. Mr. Sudrajat, Village Secretary of Sapikerep who is of Madurese descent explained that as a Tengger he is more trusted to carry out economic activities in the tourism sector. In fact, many transactions, such as leasing, are only done orally.

Regarding to access for a better life, living in the Tengger region provides extraordinary comfort for its residents. In addition to cold air, in contrast to the hot city of Probolinggo, there are many springs in the Tengger region. There is no crime in the Tengger region because everyone tries to do good for others. They are not afraid of starvation because Tengger people like to help.

Local regulations that prohibit the sale of agricultural land to outsiders apply in southern villages, or villages where the majority of the population are Hindu-Tenggerese. Buying and selling can only be done by fellow Tengger people. Agricultural land is sold or mortgaged for various reasons, including the need to finance the holding of traditional ceremonies or the result of losing a gamble. Being a Tenggerese gives Madurese decent access to capital which is adding wealth value by buying new farms owned by fellow Tengger people.

Having an identity as a representative of Tenggereses in Probolinggo Regency, made Mr. Solihin, the member of Regency House Representative from Nasdem Party, having access to important officials, both at the local and national levels. One of them is direct access to the Minister of Forestry and Environment

9. Research Innovation

There are 2 (two) points that I would consider as the innovation of this research. First, my research finding is totally different to what Hefner (1985) found during his well-known research in Tengger. Hefner (1985: p. 10) mentioned that, there is no boundary maintenance in Tengger people and Tengger people do not need to do it, since the Tengger villages are “less visible” compare to other villages in East Java. The findings might true to such circumstances but to date, Tengger people are looked stood out not only in East Java Province but also in the country. They are highly appreciated as a group of people who devoted their life to their traditional culture. The recognition attracts tourists to visit Bromo-tengger-Semeru National Park, which is good for the local economy. They are appreciated internationally as well due to the establishment of Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park and its surrounding as a Man and Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 2015. Tengger ethnic boundary is obviously existed and the “real” Tengger people intensively maintain the ethnic boundary by activating their attributes, practising their social values eg. the value of honestyand conducting constricted social control to Tengger people, including the Madurese decent, through social and administrative sanctions, optimized the roles of non-formal and formal leaders and lastly, obliged Tengger people’s to conduct and to participate in traditional and religious ceremonies. Rumour is often used as a tool for this social control.

Second, Barth (1969) mentioned the importance of boundary maintenance to the existence of an ethnic group. Weak boundary maintenance will lead the group to gradually disappear. The hard work of the Tengger people to maintain their ethnic boundaries resulted in a social construction that depicted that the Tengger region as a sacred area. Only certain people could live in since the area is protected by Tengger people’s ancestor spirits and it is a safe and peaceful place, where each resident trust to each other and is friendly because the Tenggerese prioritize honesty with no crime and no stealing. As a result of this social construction, the Tengger people gained full autonomy to manage their territory with a minimum intervention from outside parties. Tengger people also get priority in the social, political and economic fields. Therefore I observe that strong efforts of boundary maintenance are not only maintaining the existence of an ethnic group, as mentioned by Barth, but furthermore it could also give an ethnic group a full autonomy such occurred in Tengger people.

Nash (2005: p. 22) mention that “the theme running through social movement of the twenty first century is the right of participants to be themselves”. This is what the Tengger people have already got through its social construction for having a sacred area to live in. The Regional Government and local security forces, who have the authority to regulate the accomplishment of development and regional security, appreciate the ethnic boundary of the Tenggerese and in the end they do not interfere in the lives of the Tenggerese people. Many activities which are illegal in other region in the country are something normal to Tengger people such as alcoholic drinks that are provided without limits during their rituals, from wine, whiskey, vodka to beer. No one from the financial department dare enough to check financial status of Tengger village as the central government subsidies each village in the country for at least a half million dollar per year. Tengger areas are sacred areas, outsiders including the authorities, are reluctant to put their hands in. They believe if they do something wrong, they will receive the “karma” or bad luck. So, Tengger villages and its people are untouchable from the country’s regulator. Tenggerese ethnic boundary works not only for its people but also it works in the mindset of outsiders. Tengger people also has a political voice though their representative in the Regional People’s Representative Assembly in Probolinggo Regency.

10. Conclusion

1) The original Tengger people have set criteria, which are within their “ethnic boundary”, which is used to determine who is “the person in” and who is the “outsider” of members of the Tengger ethnic group. These criteria consist of the Tengger’s attributes and moral values. The attributes possessed by Tengger people are in sarong, Tengger language, farmer/agrarian society, having various traditional rituals related to one’s life cycle (birth, marriage, death) and common interests (village clean, Karo, and Yadnya Kasada). Whereas the matters relating to the moral values possessed by the Tengger people are living in certain geographical locations namely the Tengger region, diligent and hard-working, peace-loving and always doing good, egalitarian, obedient to the leaders and obediently carrying out customary rules, maintaining family ties and close to the spirit world.

2) Efforts to maintain ethnic boundaries are the same as efforts to maintain the identity of ethnic groups, in this case Tenggerese people. The original Tengger people maintain their social boundaries by activating the attributes possessed in public places and practicing social values that are mutually agreed upon, carrying out strict social controls for the members of the Tenggerese ethnic group using the approach of administrative sanctions and social sanctions, maximizing the important roles of formal and non-formal leaders, and obliging the Tengger people to hold traditional and religious rituals, because these ceremonies serve as a unifying identity of ethnic groups, namely the Tenggerese ethnic group.

3) The Madurese decents choose their main identity as Tengger people. They did “becoming Tengger” by adopting the Tengger people’s ethnic boundaries for economic and social interests as illustrated by the access they could get.

4) The process of “becoming Tengger” illustrates how the symbols that exist within the Tengger people’s ethnic boundaries and the ethnic boundaries of Madurese descent, which are the criteria of each ethnic group, cross each other and influence each other. “Becoming Tengger” is done by those who are descendants of Madurese through: a) being born and living in the Tengger region, b) activating Tengger people’s attributes like sarong and Tengger language and Tengger people’s moral values, such as upholding honesty and mutual help, and c) supporting the Tengger traditional ceremonies by “taking part” in the social and religious activities of the Tengger people.

5) The Tengger people, as owners of the dominant Tengger culture, traditionally have legitimacy for various accesses. Access here is the ability to benefit from “something”. “Something” in this case is in the form of material objects, people, institutions and symbols. These accesses are access to social identity, market access, access to capital, access to knowledge, access through negotiations from other social relations, access to a better life and also including access to authority for original Tengger people. The original Tengger people have access to the authority that is able to place one of their representatives namely Mr. Solihin as the member of Regency House Representative, in the Probolinggo Regency. Mr. Solihin was elected as a member of the House Representative after all the Tenggerese Hindu-Tenggerese people voted for him during the 2014 elections.

6) Those of Madurese descent use public places, such as Village Halls and places for traditional ceremonies, to “becoming Tengger” or adopt the ethnic boundaries of the original Tengger people by activating the attributes and practicing the moral values of the Tengger people. The original Tengger people then assessed and evaluated the feasibility of those of Madurese descent to be accepted as part of the Tengger ethnic group. Rejection is carried out through administrative sanctions, such as being expelled from the village, or social sanctions as avoided by other Tengger people.

7) Those who are of Madurese descent even though they have “becoming Tengger” they still maintain their ethnic boundaries by a) reminding each other that Madura is Islam to prevent one of them from changing their religion, b) using the Madurese language when communicating internally between them, and c) constantly reminding the young generation of family tree from their great grandfather.

The Regional Government and local security forces, who have the authority to regulate the accomplishment of development and regional security, appreciate the ethnic boundary of the Tenggerese and in the end they do not interfere in the lives of the Tenggerese people. In Tengger area, unwritten rules must be obeyed by its citizens and at traditional ceremonies such as wedding parties, alcoholic drinks are provided without limits, from wine, whiskey, vodka to beer. Everyone, especially men, can drink as much as they want, including youth enjoying the drink.

The hard work of the Tenggerese people to maintain their ethnic boundaries resulted in social construction that depicted that the Tengger region as a sacred area which only certain people could live in and it is a safe and peaceful place, where each resident trust to each other and is friendly because the Tenggerese prioritize honesty with no crime and no stealing. As a result of this social construction, the Tengger people gained full autonomy to manage their territory with a minimum of intervention from outside parties. Tengger people also get priority in the social, political and economic fields.

The contribution of this research at the local level is to give a picture to the Tenggerese people about the dynamics that occur within their ethnic boundaries, where the symbols within the boundary, namely the criteria of the Tengger people and Madurese people, cross each other and influence each other, until a single identity was formed as a Tengger person.

The contribution of this research at the national level is the need to understand the ethnic boundaries of ethnic groups in Indonesia and then analyze the functions of these ethnic boundaries when interacting with the boundaries of other ethnic groups. As is known, ethnic identity emerged and is confirmed when one ethnic group interacted with other ethnic groups. Ethnic boundaries build ethnic identity, because ethnic boundaries arise when two ethnic groups interact with each other. By knowing how the symbols within the ethnic boundary cross each other and influence each other, it is hoped that this can minimize the possibility of inter-ethnic conflict in Indonesia.

The paper explores the dynamic within the boundary of Tengger people both the original Tengger and the Madurese decent. It explains how each element within the ethnic boundary is negotiated and contested to confirm each self-identity at the grass root level. Further research should be conducted to see the dynamic of ethnic boundary at upper level eg. regency, provincial to national level to observe how far that the Tengger people use their identity as a tool to gain further politic, economic and social benefits. Something that has not been discussed in the paper and I see it as the shortcoming of the paper.

The general conclusion of this dissertation is:

1) In the relationship between ethnic groups such as dominant and minorities, minority groups still have efforts to maintain their social boundaries.

2) Maintaining ethnic boundaries is not only limited to maintaining ethnic identity, but will produce social constructs that can give these ethnic groups full autonomy to regulate their territory and gain a better bargaining position in the economic, social and political fields.

NOTES

1A chamber of commerse created by the Dutch in Indonesia in 1602.

Cite this paper: Suratri, R. and Gunawijaya, J. (2021) The Dynamics of “Ethnic Boundary”: In the Identity of the Tengger Community of Madurese Descent. Advances in Anthropology, 11, 44-67. doi: 10.4236/aa.2021.111005.
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