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Caged in on the OutsideMoral Subjectivity, Selfhood, and Islam in Minangkabau, Indonesia$
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Gregory M. Simon

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780824838300

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824838300.001.0001

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The Awak People

The Awak People

The Moral Aesthetics of Social Unity

Chapter:
(p.63) 3 The Awak People
Source:
Caged in on the Outside
Author(s):

Gregory M. Simon

Publisher:
University of Hawai'i Press
DOI:10.21313/hawaii/9780824838300.003.0004

There is an aesthetic of social unity created through everyday interactions in Minangkabau society, where mixing in (bagaua) and being normal (biaso) are powerful moral concerns, supported by the threat of shame. Being sombong, seeming to be set apart from as if superior to others, is considered the epitome of moral failure. Interactions directed toward the creation of this aesthetic, most notably ritual forms of etiquette known as baso-basi, keep individual autonomy out of direct public view. While this aesthetic constitutes a very real locus of moral selfhood, it is not ultimately a way of fashioning or even valuing the self as one kind of thing (socially integrated, deferential) as opposed to another (individual, autonomous), but a way to manage conflicting aspects of selfhood, keeping each in its proper place.

Keywords:   morality, aesthetics, sombong, baso-basi, etiquette, autonomy, social unity, self, Minangkabau

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