Development and Urbanization
Rural places throughout the world are increasingly recognised as sites of consumption, especially for leisure-oriented activities, as much as they are sites of (agricultural) production. This is certainly true for much of Southeast Asia. The implied assumption, however, has generally been that consumers of the countryside are culturally and socially distinct from, and even displacing, those living off the land as producers – farmers. Whilst enhanced rural amenity is driving leisure activities in the countryside, this paper presents the case of place-based cultural identity as the primary driver of rural consumption. The role of ritual should not be considered incidental or marginal to processes of regional economic development. In the case of the Toraja highlands, ritual is not only central to the maintenance of cultural identities and spiritual beliefs, it is the key driver of the regional economy. Earlier examinations of rural consumption focused on the phenomenon of essentially urban consumers of the countryside. However, the interpenetration of the rural and the urban and the increasingly multi-sited lives of many households across the developing world suggests that culturally internal consumers may be performing an increasingly important role.