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Theologizing Farming: Religiosity and Economic Rationality of Muslim Peasants in the Dieng Mountains


 

Since the coming of new variety potato in the Dieng Mountains in 1980s, this region has experienced socio-culture and economic-religiosity transformation. Potato has released Dieng community from stigma as ngiwa area (poor and isolated), transformed from laborers to employer, and able to express their religiosity more creatively. However, behind those economic improvement and religiosity, the potato farming activities have caused environment damage. The phenomenon relate to not only economic rationalization in modern perspectives, but also religious understanding and conviction. There are three questions answered through this research: How do Muslim Peasant in the Dieng Mountains view and position their natural environment?; How do Muslim peasants in the Dieng Mountains theologize their potato farming activities? And how do they respond to the environmental damage caused by their agricultural activities?; and what is the relationship between the religious understandings of Muslim peasants in the Dieng Mountains with the consequences of their potato farming activities? To answer the question, this research was carried out in several villages in the Kejajar sub-district and using anthropological-historical approach, in which researcher was involved in daily lives of the local community, did interpretations, and at the same time related those historical data to larger social findings. I used actor perspective paradigm to uncover meanings behind actions conducted by the subject of research. Collecting data was conducted by doing participant observation, indepth interview, and documentation. The results show that religion become very important for the Muslim peasants in the Dieng Mountains. First, The Dieng Mountains land is a sacred land. This view has tended to remain unchanged since the opening it by the Hindu-buddhist to establish the enshrinement complex to this day when the mountainous land of Dieng is inhabited by Muslim Peasants. However, how to treat the sacred soil tends to change with the change of beliefs and life experiences of people in the Dieng Mountains. Second, The farming activities are a representation of their views, obedience, and submission to God. Running potato farming activities from preparing seed potatoes, fertilizing and pesticiding, and other intensive care is an endeavor, whereas succeeding or not is the will and power of god. For Dieng mountain communities, potatoes are God's blessing to them. Therefore, the results of potato farming should they return to God. Third, The religious understanding of Muslim peasants in the Dieng Mountains is closely related to their views and attitudes towards the environmental damage caused by their potato farming activities. Religious understanding will always be influenced by many things, not solely by what is written in al-quran and hadith, as well as the views of religious leaders, but also their life experiences and local traditions.

Key Wordspotato farming, religiosity, environmental damage, economic problems, tradition