Nunusaku Ethnofilm

Dieter Bartels with group of children This website is dedicated to the people of Maluku (Moluccas) in the eastern part of Indonesia, formally known as the Spice Islands. These islands were originally the only ones to produce cloves and nutmeg – spices very much coveted by Europeans in medieval times. Its purpose is to make knowledge about these islands accessible to a larger number of people. I have been doing anthropological and historical research about Moluccan people since 1974 and want to offer my findings to a more general public and especially to young Moluccans everywhere.


Dr. Dieter Bartels

Dr. Dieter Bartels Dieter Bartels is a Professor of Anthropology at Yavapai College, located on the extreme edges of civilization in the American Wild West. His hometown is Clarkdale in Central Arizona — an old company town built for workers of a nearby copper mine. The houses are built out of solid brick, a construction form rarely found in the desert of the American Southwest. It gives him a sense of permanence and a link to Europe in this very transient land.

Born in Munich, Germany, he received his doctorate from Cornell University (Ithaca, New York). He still has fond memories of this hallowed Ivy League institution where he was a member of the world-renowned Southeast Asia Department, allowing him to receive a truly interdisciplinary training rather than being confined to the boundaries of one particular academic field.

Since 1974, he has done extensive research among Ambonese Moslems and Christians in the Central Moluccas (Indonesia), as well as in the Ambonese-Moluccan exile community in the Netherlands, resulting in several books and numerous articles covering such topics as pela alliances, Moslem-Christian relationships, terrorism, ethnicity, minority emancipation, Dutch-Moluccan interrelations, bicultural education, ethnohistory, identity formation, miscegenation, and socialization.

In the summer of 2000, during one of the worst outbreaks of Christian-Moslem violence, he was conducting research and filming in Ambon and Saparua, frequently under hostile fire. He witnessed the attack by radical fundamentalist Moslem fighters (Laskar Jihad) on the Christian University (UKIM) in Ambon City from within the burning buildings of its campus. It was then that he coined the term “Action Anthropology” – a subfield he does not recommend as a specialization with great future potential for those loving to live.

Since, he has been active as mediator between Moluccan Muslims and Christians, attending conferences on Indonesia as an invited panelist and writing articles relating to his field. He also has been active as an ethnographic filmmaker and his feature-length “Maju Terus,” dealing with the future of Moluccan youth in the Netherlands is about to be released.

In 2009, he spent three months conducting ethnographic fieldwork in Maluku Daya Barat at the request of the Governor of Maluku. The project is aimed at preserving Adat (customary law) of the region and finding a balance between local custom and outside influences due to increasing economic exploitation of its natural resources. An ethnographic documentary film about these “forgotten Islands” is also in the planning stages.