The Dark Side of Paradise: Political Violence in Bali

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Cornell University Press, 1995 - History - 341 pages
"Hiking through peaceful villages in central Bali, we found it difficult to envision the fires of retribution that lit the island's skyline just four years ago." Thus in 1969 a reporter for National Geographic summed up the dilemma facing those who think about Bali. How can the bloody massacres that shook the island in the 1960s be reconciled with the pervasive view of Bali as an earthly paradise whose people live in harmony with nature and each other? Geoffrey Robinson explores this discrepancy, and in doing so exposes the multiple myths about Bali. His work offers the first thorough political history of this varied and complex island. Scrutinizing the Balinese experience under Dutch colonial rule and during the National Revolution (1945-1949), the Sukarno era (1950-1965), and the military coup and countercoup of 1965, "the year of living dangerously, " Robinson discloses previously unexplored conflicts of class and culture which have permeated the island's recent history. He shows how the wide shifts in Balinese politics throughout this century - from the apparent harmony of the colonial period to the chronic violence of revolution and coup - are best understood by relating the island's social, cultural, and economic circumstances to the larger political environment, both national and international. A cogent explanation of Bali's troubled past and paradoxically untroubled reputation, this book is at once a unique history and a critique of popular and scholarly portrayals of modern Bali.

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About the author (1995)

Geoffrey Robinson is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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