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Pilgrimage: Indonesia

Pilgrimage: Indonesia explored Bali’s religious pageantry and dynamic performing arts, which have made it a popular site for tourists and anthropologists since the early twentieth century. These visitors have historically viewed the Balinese, a Hindu-Buddhist minority, as a self-enclosed society. But contemporary Bali is an example of intense religious pluralism, syncretism and complex negotiation. It provided a rich backdrop to explore a diverse range of spiritual identities from indigenous sacred practices to Christian mission outreach to the world’s largest Muslim nation. Like no other place in the world, Bali demonstrates the possibility of peaceful coexistence amid religious difference. 

This course highlighted the lived understanding of religious pluralism in Indonesia with particular focus on the performing arts within Balinese Hindu-Buddhist devotional practice. Students explored sacred and historical sites that contextualized the interaction of four of the world’s major religions.  In addition, we considered the relation of ecology to Balinese religion and society and the challenges posed by modern environmental change.

Pilgrimage: Indonesia was an intensive travel seminar led by Emily Cobb, director of multifaith initiatives; Andy McGraw, associate professor of music; and Kevin Heffernan, Zen Buddhist Campus Minister.