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date: 06 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This case study on the Toba Batak of Northern Sumatra focuses on a model 19th-century German missionary, whose success in the almost complete conversion of the Toba was predicated on a politics of selective tolerance, in which certain local codes and practices were encouraged, while others were identified for replacement with Christian practices and emblems. Through a discussion of the musical tensions involved in this process of selective exchange, Byl explores the ways in which the first missionaries negotiated identities that encompassed both their benevolent Christian convictions and their roles as effective agents of colonial power. For their part, Toba responses to the politics of missionization have also been complex and shot through with contradictions: as an institution, the church stood as a structure bolstering their defiant confrontation of Muslim Indonesia, while internally its implementation is remembered in terms of colonial policies and alliances.

Keywords: music, Christianity, Indonesia, Sumatra, missions, Toba Batak

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