Organised by lecturer Dr. Yeoh Seng Guan, nineteen students from the School of Arts & Social Sciences embarked on a journey to the provincial island of Sulawesi to study the history and cultural practices of the bustling port city of Makassar as well as to learn about the burial practices and unique architecture in Toraja.

Hosted by Universitas Hasanuddin (Hasanuddin University) in Makassar and accompanied by five student guides from the university, the student-travelers visited several communities namely ARKOM (a group of student-architects), KontraS (human rights group), Komunitas Sehati Makassar (LGBT group) and Kampung Buku (a space for publishing company Inninawa Publisher and public library) in Makassar followed by grave sites in three Torajan villages called Kambira, Lemo and Ke’te Kesu, to name a few. 

The highlight of the trip was the funeral ceremony held in Toraja, which made a significant impact on all student-travelers. Witnessing the ritual of the slaughter of buffalos and pigs proved to be the most challenging part of this study trip. Student-travelers were also given the opportunity to interview a few parties at the funeral ceremony including the family members of the deceased, the funeral chief and tourists to gain different insights to the sacred cultural practice.  

Stay tuned for the documentary of “In Search of Makassar & Toraja” which will be screened at Monash University Malaysia later this year.  

To read more stories and view pictures and videos of our trip, please visit: http://insearchofmakassartoraja.wordpress.com 

Writer: Emily Choong
Photographer: Jonathan Lim