Maintaining Tradition, Constructing Identity: Identity Construction of Orang Laut in Saponda, Southeast Sulawesi

Title: Maintaining Tradition, Constructing Identity: Identity Construction of “Orang Laut” in Saponda, Southeast Sulawesi

Author: Saifudin (CRCS, 2009)

Keywords: The Badjau, Orang Laut, Orang Darat, Identity Construction.



This thesis describes identity construction performed by the Badjaus who become the orang laut community settling a small island named Saponda in Konawe district, Southeast Sulawesi. The Badjau’s identity could be identified by their settlement and their daily life which always bound up with the sea; the reason making Badjau as orang laut. Historically, the Badjaus are the boat men who do not live in the house permanently living in the boat only, but nowadays, the Badjaus have already dwelled numerous coastal areas in Indonesia and many of them dwelled small islands—such as Saponda Island. The fact that the orang laut’s identity was originally built in the sea, does not mean that their identity was static. From the research performed, it was found that government’s policy such as education, health facility and the interaction between Badjaus and other tribes (orang darat) have influenced their identity construction. On the contrary, orang laut’s identity, however, is still there even though out-side values have continuously been appearing.


The method applied in this research is qualitative method having descriptive character by acquiring data using purposive sampling, the informants are taken based on criteria established by researcher from various levels of the society, there are society leaders and dwellers in the village, who have been living and staying in Saponda island at least for 10 years in minimum. Technique on data ghatering is performed through observation participation and indepth interview, where the researcher was living and involving in the Saponda island people’s activities for 3 months.

This post is also available in: Indonesian


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