Doors of Perception: Power and Representation in Bali

Essay Excerpt

This article is about the Door and the sign [at the entrance to Bali's Klungkung region], and their relationship. It has long been common in anthropological circles to treat cultural forms as representations of social, political, or economic relations (whether local, as in structural functionalism, or global, as in newer versions of marxism) or of moral values, conceptual categories, or cosmological schemes (as in structuralism or cultural analysis). So one could interpret these figures. However, both artifacts are also ineluctably intertwined with the particularities of Klungkung's history and Balinese practices. Both instantiate particular moments of Klungkung's past, having been constructed in different social and historical situations. Both are also forms with the potential to focus awareness in distinctive ways that are highly valued in Bali. What strikes me as especially interesting about them is that despite their significance they have an odd invisibility (476). 

Wiener, M. J. "Doors of Perception: Power and Representation in Bali." Cultural Anthropology 10.4(1995): 472–508.

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