Bonerate - Sociopolitical Organization



Bonerate belongs to the Kabupaten Selayar in the province of South Sulawesi. It is the administrative center of the district of Pasirmarannu, which means that the chamat, or head of the district civil administration, is located here together with police and military personnel. Authority lines follow the rules laid down by the modern republic of Indonesia.

Social Organization. The traditional stratified social organization of the Bonerate has generally lost its social relevance, but is expressed for instance during occasions of ritualized dances. A new elite based on economic success seems to be emerging among the islanders.

Political Organization. Bonerate society is a hierarchical system organized by locally recruited headmen for the island ( kepala desa ) , settlements ( kepala linkung ) , and neighborhood ( kepala kampung ). These headmen cooperate with, and carry out, the policy of the civil servants, who are recruited from areas outside Bonerate. The local headmen, and the islanders in general, have little influence in political issues above the restricted kampung level.

Social Control. Internal island conflicts are generally avoided and aggression is directed toward outsiders, but nowadays no action is carried out. When necessary, headmen at the different levels mediate when potential conflicts appear.

Conflict. In the past Bonerate men were renowned pirates. Today any serious conflict is taken care of by police or military personnel. At the village level, minor conflicts are solved within the community by strategies of ridicule, gossip, and reference to normative respect toward elders.


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