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Notes on Ethnic Factors Related to Development in Sulawesi, Indonesia

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The island (more accurately, islands) of Sulawesi is a large and important part of Indonesia1 which certainly deserves more studies of its peoples and resources than is currently the case. These short notes provide some recent information on ethnicity and development in Sulawesi, and are presented mainly as problems that should concern future researchers and planners working in the area. Since the beginning of 1974 I have spent four and half years in Sulawesi, first studying the descendants of Javanese and other exiles in North Sulawesi. Later, I served as consultant anthropologist to the Sulawesi Regional Development Study, a project supported by the Canadian International Development Agency and the Indonesian Department of Public Works.2 During the latter project I visited almost all the kabupaten or administrative subdivisions of the four provinces of Sulawesi. Although the nature of the project did not allow for in-depth research, many problems related to ethnicity and development soon became apparent. Many of the government and secondary reports on the region collected during the study revealed a lack of concern for such issues. It is therefore all the more important that a brief outline of ethnic groups in Sulawesi be presented. The second major reason for these notes is the fact that Sulawesi, along with the other "Outer Islands", is receiving increasing amounts of national and international aid to carry out a wide variety of development projects for its people. It is therefore important that scholars and government officials should be aware of the effects of these projects and to establish how to go about studying them so as not to destroy the socio-cultural life of the Sulawesi people.

Affiliations: 1: Cornell University


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