Legacy of Colonialism and Indigenous Religious Resilience: A Study of Marapu Belief in East Nusa Tenggara

Rika Febriani 1 ,  Nurberlian 2
1 Doctoral Student Faculty of Philosophy, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia; Department Social and Political Science, Universitas Negeri Padang, Padang, Indonesia
2 Undergraduate Student Cultural Anthropology Study Program, Faculty of Humanities, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Yogyakarta, Indonesia


Indigenous religions encompass spiritual customs originating from the ancestral heritage of specific ethnic and geographical groups. These traditional beliefs often come into conflict with state-recognised official religions, a consequence of modernity's tendency to streamline religion into a mere belief system. In line with this, the post-colonial view sees that indigenous religions which are repressed by the state are the result of the state's view of showing Western superiority. Indonesia bears the enduring legacy of colonialism, manifesting as negative perceptions that persistently affect to indigenous religions. One of the colonial legacies is sociological, psychological, and moral problems, besides physics and material heritance. According to Syeid Hussen Alatas in the Myth of Lazy Natives (1989), this is the greatest damage caused by colonialism because this problem hinders solutions to other problems. Indonesia, as a geographical region, has many indigenous religions, one of which is the Marapu belief in Sumba, East Nusa Tenggara. Many adherents of the Marapu faith are forced to embrace one religion for the purposes of population administration, but at the same time continue to practice their beliefs. This article aims to unravel how Marapu followers uphold their ritual practices within the confines of their traditional religion and how the enduring colonial legacy shaped local religious observances. This study uses a qualitative descriptive method by focusing on a literature review with research data sources from journals and documentary videos. The research finding of this enquiry is the exploration of the intersection between religion and society and how post-colonial perspectives have seen this phenomenon. 


indigenous religions, Marapu, post-colonial, colonialism, western religion


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Volume 11, 04 Apr 2024
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