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Penyamun is a central fi gure of rumors of public construction sacrifi cerumors and head-hunting rumors that have been recorded in Southeastern Asia since the beginning of the 20th century (Haddon 1901; Drake 1989; Erb 1991; Barnes 1993; Forth 1991; Hoskins 2002). The aim of the present article is to analyze the present-day form of such rumors on the island of Sumba in eastern Indonesia. All rumors discussed herein focus on the fi gure of penyamun, a foreigner yearning for body parts or blood of the inhabitants of Sumba. In the Loli region of western Sumba these rumors were in the past directed especially at the Dutch colonizers and missionaries, but they have continually absorb new features and at present are directed especially at tourists, immigrants and representatives of the state. All variants of rumors about penyamun have one common feature: the principal negative protagonist is foreigner, often non-Sumbanese. Therefore, we can interpret these rumors also as a way of defi ning oneself in opposition to foreign infl uences and strengthening the cohesion of the group disseminating the rumor.
rumor; Sumba; Indonesia; penyamun; identity; development; resistence