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14 Chess and an Indonesian Microcosm: A Glimpse of a Nation’s Social Dream?

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines aspects of nationalism, citizenship, migration and belonging in relation to an informal chess club in Denpasar, Bali. The members include Hindu Balinese, but the majority are labour migrants from other islands who are both Muslims and Christians. The group, highly heterogeneous religiously, ethnically, culturally, and linguistically, is thus a microcosm of national Indonesian society.
Howe uses the game to explore how players employ chess to think imaginatively about Indonesian society as it currently exists and how they would like it to be. The meritocratic and egalitarian nature of chess allows players to criticise inequality, corruption and ethnic and religious conflict. The chapter concludes by introducing a distinction between “Balinese society” and the “society of Balinese,” and discusses the closed nature of the latter and its virtual impenetrability by migrants, however long they have lived on the island.



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    Between Harmony and Discrimination: Negotiating Religious Identities within Majority-Minority Relationships in Bali and Lombok — Recommend this title to your library
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