Michel Picard: “Pariwisata Budaya” dan “Budaya Pariwisata” seperti Dua Sisi dari Satu Koin

Michel Picard dan Darma Putra dalam acara "Talk Show" di Prodi S-2 Kajian Pariwisata Unud (Foto Ary Bestari).

Michel Picard dan Darma Putra dalam acara “Talk Show” di Prodi S-2 Kajian Pariwisata Unud (Foto Ary Bestari).

Program Magister Kajian Pariwisata Unud, Senin (18/5/2015), mengundang Michel Picard, penulis buku terkenal BALI Cultural Tourism and Touristic Culture (1996) untuk memberikan ceramah tentang pariwisata budaya di Bali.  Acara diskusi dihadiri sekitar 125 orang terdiri dari dosen, mahasiswa Pariwisata (S1, S2, S3), dan peminat kalangan umum.

Diskusi berlangsung menarik, termasuk ada peserta yang menanyakan tentang apa saja perubahan Bali yang paling keras, siapa saja agent yang paling berpengaruh dalam menciptakan image pariwisata Bali di dunia global, bahkan sampai masalah reklamasi Teluk Benoa.

“Untuk agent pencipta image Bali, memang ada beberapa dan sulit mengatakan siapa paling atau kurang berpengaruh,” ujar Picard, peneliti asal Perancis yang pertama ke Bali tahun 1974.

Menyinggung tentang perkembangan ‘pariwisata budaya’ dan fenomena ‘budaya pariwisata’ di Bali, Picard mengatakan: “Itu memang seperti dua sisi dari satu koin,” artinya sebagai sesuatu yang tidak bisa dipisahkan.

Berikut adalah presentasi Michel Picard dalam bahasa Inggris yang merupakan beberapa point penting yang ditulis dalam bukunya.

Suasana diskusi dengan Michel Picard, Senin, 18 Mei 2015.

Suasana diskusi dengan Michel Picard, Senin, 18 Mei 2015.


The Writer of “Bali. Cultural Tourism and Touristic Culture”

Senin, 18 Mei 2015, Prodi Magister Kajian Pariwisata, Universitas Udayana

I have been invited to talk to you as “the writer of Bali. Cultural Tourism and Touristic Culture”, which I find a bit embarrassing as this book was published in 1996, and I have no longer been doing research on tourism since then. Not that I have lost interest in that topic, but the study of tourism in Bali led me to address other issues. While I had come to Bali to research the local implications of international tourism, I ended investigating the dialogic construction of a Balinese identity.

Today, the predicament of tourism in Bali appears quite different from what it was when I started my fieldwork, back in the 1970s. While at present observers are justly concerned about the blatant over development of tourism, in those earlier days Balinese and foreigners alike were concerned that the Balinese culture might not survive the impact of tourism. Most critics accused tourism of corrupting Balinese culture by turning it into a commercial commodity. Yet, there were commentators who claimed that the Balinese people were taking advantage of the appeal of their cultural traditions to foreigners, without sacrificing their own values on the altar of monetary profit.

Faced with such contradictory statements, I suspected that the question they addressed was misleading. Indeed, the very fact of talking about the “impact” of tourism amounts to perceiving the host society as a target, passively subjected to exogenous factors of change. On the contrary, I contend that far from being an external force striking Bali from without, the “touristification” of Balinese culture proceeds from within, by blurring the boundaries between that which belongs to culture and that which pertains to tourism.

This implies that tourism in Bali cannot be conceived of outside Balinese culture – it is inextricably bound up in a process of cultural construction. As soon as a society offers itself for sale on a market, as soon as its people seek to enhance their attraction to foreign visitors, it is the very consciousness they have of themselves which is being affected. In this respect, the Balinese people are not passive objects of the tourist gaze, but active subjects who construct representations of their culture to attract tourists.

Accordingly, instead of asking whether or not Balinese culture has been able to withstand the impact of tourism, I have investigated how tourism has contributed to the construction of this “Balinese culture”. Briefly stated, I approached Balinese culture as the product of a dialogic interaction between the Balinese people and significant Others – that is, not only the tourists and the tourism industry, but also the artists, orientalists and anthropologists, who contributed to the composition of Bali’s image, as well as Muslim schoolteachers, Christian missionaries, Hindu reformers and Dutch officials, who strove to fashion Balinese society according to what they wanted it to be, not to forget of course the Indonesian government.

Now, before the island of Bali was finally included into the Dutch colonial empire in 1908, it had long been viewed by orientalists as a “living museum” of the Hindu-Javanese civilisation. This view prevailed within the colonial administration, with the result that the policy designed for the island aimed at preserving the Balinese cultural heritage. In effect, Bali not only had to be protected against the onslaught of modernity, but the Balinese people had furthermore to be taught how to keep on being authentically Balinese. Such was the purpose of the cultural policy known as the “Balinisation of Bali” (Baliseering), which intended to induce a revival of Balinese culture. Once restored to its pristine glory, Balinese culture could then be presented to the admiration of the outside world.

Among the visitors of the 1920s and 30s, special mention should be made of the artists and scholars who established the reputation of Bali. The accounts, paintings, photographs and films that recorded their stay on the island created an enchanting image of native life, an image which would be promoted in due time by the tourism industry. Bali has been advertised ever since as a traditional society insulated from the modern world, whose inhabitants are endowed with exceptional artistic talents and devote an outstanding amount of time to staging colourful ceremonies for their own pleasure and that of their gods – and now in addition for the delight of the tourists.

Despite the Dutch claim to preserve the Balinese cultural heritage, the colonial occupation of the island entailed the disintegration of its traditional order. The requirements of a modern administration prompted the formation of a Balinese intelligentsia, who strove to make sense of the situation brought about by the opening up of their world. On the one hand, Western-educated Balinese started pondering over their cultural identity, while on the other, they had to define what it meant to be Balinese in terms comprehensible to non-Balinese. Thus, the same process which impelled the Balinese to question their identity deprived them of their own voice, by inducing them to think about themselves in foreign categories.

In striving to make sense of the upheaval brought about by the colonial encounter, the Balinese defined themselves both as a religious minority – the stronghold of Hinduism threatened by Islam and Christianity – as well as a particular ethnic group, characterized by its own traditions. At the same time, the “Balinisation” program was awakening the Balinese interest in their cultural heritage, while the appreciation of foreign visitors was convincing them that they were a nation of “artists”. Thus epitomised by the specific combination of “religion” (agama), “tradition” (adat) and “art” (seni), “culture” (budaya) has become the very embodiment of the Balinese identity – what the Balinese call their “Balineseness” (Kebalian).

No sooner had culture become Bali’s defining feature than foreigners started fearing for its disappearance. It was as if the mere evocation of Bali suggested the imminence of a fall from the Garden of Eden – sooner or later, this “Last Paradise” was doomed to become a “Paradise Lost”. And one could surmise that the appeal exerted by the island of Bali over its visitors rested to a large extent on the premonition of the demise of its culture.

Among the dangers seen to be threatening Balinese culture, the most conspicuous one was none other than the coming of the tourists themselves. Hence the dilemma faced by the colonial authorities with respect to tourism. On the one hand, Balinese culture was the major asset for the touristic promotion of the island. But on the other hand, if the cultural heritage of Bali was to be preserved, measures had to be taken to protect it from the detrimental contact with the tourists.

The war spared the colonial government the necessity of defining a consistent tourism policy for Bali. In fact, it was only in the 1970s that tourists started coming back in significant numbers. This was the result of a decision taken in 1969 by the Indonesian government to open up the country to international tourism. Banking on Bali’s appealing image, the government decided to make this island the tourist gateway to Indonesia. With the backing of the World Bank, a team of foreign experts was commissioned to draw up a Master Plan for the development of tourism in Bali. And with the official endorsement of the Master Plan by Presidential Decree in 1972, tourism became a top economic priority in the province.

Faced with a fait accompli, the Balinese authorities evinced an ambivalent attitude toward tourism, which they perceived as being at once fraught with danger and filled with the promise of prosperity. On the one hand, the artistic and religious traditions that had made Bali famous worldwide provided its main tourist attraction, thus turning Balinese culture into the most valuable resource for the island’s economic development. But on the other hand, the invasion of Bali by foreigners was seen as a threat of “cultural pollution” (polusi budaya). To prevent such a dire result, the Balinese authorities devised in 1971 the doctrine of “Cultural Tourism” (Pariwisata Budaya), which capitalised on culture to develop tourism while using tourism to promote Balinese culture.

In doing so, the policy of Cultural Tourism confounded two notions of culture – culture as a product for the tourist market and culture as a means by which people orient themselves in their world. Now, I would say that it was only after they came to enlist their culture as a “capital” (modal) to be exploited for profit, that the Balinese began to regard it as a “heritage” (warisan) to be taken care of. In this sense, it is the very conception of culture as capital that induced that of culture as heritage.

It seems to me that one could speak of a “touristic culture” (budaya pariwisata) once the Balinese people have come to confuse these two uses of their culture – when they end up taking the “brand image” (citra) of their tourist product for the “distinctive marker” (ciri khas) of their cultural identity.

To come to my point, tourism neither “preserved” nor “polluted” Balinese culture. What happened is that the decision to promote a “cultural” tourism has rendered the Balinese self-conscious about their culture. It is as if, thanks to tourism, the Balinese have discovered that they “have a culture” – something precious and perishable, which they ought to protect as well as promote. Since it was distinguished by the tourist gaze, their culture became externalized in the eyes of the Balinese, by turning into an object that could be detached from themselves in order to be sold on a market – and which they ran the risk of becoming dispossessed. Indeed, as it was being appropriated by the tourism industry, their culture became not only a source of profit and pride, but also a cause of anxiety for the Balinese, who started wondering whether they were still authentically Balinese.

Their predicament is that they are now prisoners of a cultural image promoted by the marketers of Bali as a tourist paradise. Inasmuch as they are expected to conform to their image, the Balinese not only are required to be Balinese, but they must be worthy models of “Balineseness” – they must become signs of themselves. For all their attempts to assert their identity, they are for ever reacting to this injunction which they cannot elude. They appropriate the touristic vision of their culture, while at the same time trying to prise free of its grip. Such is the challenge of tourism for the Balinese, a challenge which is not unlike a paradoxical injunction.

I shall conclude with a revealing anecdote. In 1988, the Bali Post published an article entitled “The Balinese are losing their Balineseness” (Orang Bali Semakin Kehilangan Kebaliannya). The author, Nyoman Naya Sujana, accused his fellow countrymen of being blinded by the prestige of their touristic reputation abroad and unaware that the authenticity of their cultural identity was seriously compromised. This accusation did not go unnoticed on the island. A poll was conducted among the paper’s readership, from which it emerged that while 40% of the respondents imputed to tourism an erosion of Kebalian, the remaining 60% thought that, to the contrary, the growing numbers of tourists coming every year to Bali was the most convincing proof of the enduring authenticity of the Balinese cultural identity.

Thus it is that, called upon to protect and promote their culture in regard to the tourist gaze, the Balinese have come to search for confirmation of their cultural identity in the mirror held to them by the tourists.***