Imagining Adat, Islam, and Ethnic Character
The meanings attached to Minangkabau identity can be read as moral arguments for what society, and properly Minangkabau people, ought to be like. Minangkabau identity is imagined in terms of three interlocking concerns: adat, traditional culture, which is sometimes facilely equated with Minangkabau life; Islam, which is imagined as the basis for adat, but also exists in some tension with it; and conceptions of Minangakbau character, in which notions of individualized autonomy dominate. Conceptions of adat and Islam define the proper nature of an ordered, integrated society, but this order and integration always remain in tension with individual autonomy. This tension comes to the fore when considering conceptions of Minangkabau character, which focus on how individuals maneuver themselves through ordered society, preserving their autonomy in ways that avoid defying the demands for unity and deference as defined by adat and Islam.
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