Abstract

This article looks at efforts to revitalize “tradition” (in Indonesian, adat) among the Tobelo people in the eastern Indonesian province of North Maluku in the aftermath of the ethnic and religious violence that swept the region in 1999–2001. It examines how some groups in Tobelo society are attempting to revive previously marginalized adat practices as a way to facilitate reconciliation between Muslim and Christian communities. Those involved in these efforts believe that a revitalization of adat will shift people's focus of identity from their religion—the focus of the recent conflict—to their ethnicity. They hope this shift in focus will transcend religious differences. The paper explores these attempts to articulate Tobelo tradition and Tobelo identity in order to prevent future violence. It also discusses the rationales and historical justifications for seeing adat as a mechanism for reconciliation and conflict prevention.

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