YOGYAKARTA- Ethnic identity reconstruction may occur because of the definition of ethnicity, adaptation or tradition, in addition to the chance of elite that holds power and manipulate the sentiments of ethnicity. From the whole process of the ethnical identity reconstruction, a transformation of Pakpak people toward political entities that are aware of their ethnic group is produced.
This political entity produces territorial and political symbols, in this case West Pakpak District. However, as a result of different historical processes in these ethnical sub-groups, especially the separation of Pakpak people into five different tribes with different religious orientations, making the Pakpak ethnic group face problems in forming a cultural entity that stands upright as a whole in their customary land. This becomes a major challenge in consolidating and crystallizing the construction of Pakpak ethnic identity in the future. "All the ethnic identity reconstruction process eventually produces the Pakpak people toward political entities that are aware of its ethnic groups," said Drs. Budi Agustono, M. Hum. in his doctoral exam at Multimedia Room RM Margono Djojohadikusumo Building, Faculty of Cultural Sciences UGM on Monday (27/12).
In this exam, Agus defended his dissertation entitled Reconstruction of Ethnic Identity: The Social & Political History of Pakpak People in North Sumatra between 1958-2003. Present as examiners in the occasion, Dr. Ida Rochani Adi, S.U., Prof. Dr. Bambang Purwanto, M.A. (Promoter), Prof. Dr. Djoko Suryo, Prof. Dr. Djoko Soekiman, Dr. Sri Margana, M. Phil., Prof. Dr. Purwo Santoso, Prof. Dr. R.M. Soedarsono, and Dr. G.R. Lastoro Lono Simatupang, M.A. In this exam, Budi managed to maintain his studies and graduated with honors.
To the team of examiners, Budi said the purpose of his research is to explain the politics of identity and the struggle for political space in the formation of cultural identity of ethnic groups in the middle of regime transformation after Indonesia’s independence. The study of ethnicity and identity formation has been mostly done by anthropologists and sociologists, meanwhile only few historians pay attention to the study of ethnicity. "There is the impression that in the Indonesia historiography, the study regarding ethnicity is neglected," the lecturer of the Department of History, Faculty of Literature, University of North Sumatra, explained.
The theory of this research is that the relationship between ethnicity and identity is intertwining. Ethnicity may vary, depending on with whom they interacted. Ethnic identity is an adaptive phenomenon and in response to varying circumstances, collectivity restrictions may extend, even a person or some people can get out and include themselves in more than one community. "Thus, ethnicity is dynamic, uncertain, not fixed, and changing in political and social relations. This study adopts an instrumentalist approach in explaining the reconstruction of Pakpak ethnical identity," said the man born in Deli Serdang, August 5, 1960.
Some of research results include, first is the arrival of the Dutch, in addition to incorporating the Pakpak Land in the colonial rule it also marginalized the Pakpak traditional elite. Second, the migration of the Toba’s Batak to the Pakpak Land which began in the early twentieth century has weakened the cultural identity of this indigenous people. Another thing is the emergence of ethnic-labeling that downgraded the Pakpak people.
Third, after dominating the settlement and the majority of the population in this region, especially in Sidikalang, Toba’s Batak people began to change the names of places that symbolize the cultural identity of Pakpak with Toba’s Batak language, for example, a river that was previously named Aek sibellen (Pakpak) was changed to lae Simbolon (Toba Batak), Sikaliki Village (Pakpak) into Palipi, etc..
Fourth, since Christianity entered into the Pakpak Land, Pakpak people received their service in Huria Kristen Batak Protestant (HKBP). Along with the strengthening of ethnic identity, the Pakpak people separate their church from HKBP. After a series of conflicts between Pakpak people and HKBP, finally in 1991, Pakpak ethnic church named Pakpak Dairi Protestant Christian Church (GKPPD) was established.