Beyond the Green Myth

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Bernard Sellato, Peter G. Sercombe
NIAS Press, Mar 1, 2008 - History - 384 pages
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Borneo, with its tales of White Rajahs and tribes of headhunters, has long excited the Western imagination. Today, however, there is another green imagination at work. Mention of the island is more likely to evoke images of tropical deforestation and concern about the cruel dispossession and displacement of indigenous peoples who once lived in relative harmony with their environment.

It is perhaps not suprizing then, that most books dealing with the nomadic hunter-gatherers of Borneo have principally been pictorial studies. There is indeed a dearth of scholarship regarding these peoples, a situation that this first ever comprehensive review of nomadic groups in the Borneo rain forest aims to rectify.

Presenting a wealth of new research contributed by an international team of scholars, the volume covers all of those parts of Borneo where nomads (called Penan, Punan, or by various other names) are or were known to exist, and provides a comparative historical-ecological study of these groups.

The study is primarily concerned with issues of modernization (including the monetary economy, formalized institutions, centralized power structures, contractual relationships and extraction activities) and development policies. The impact of these policies is analyzed with special regard to the natural environment inhabited by these small scale societies, as well as the use of its resources.

The book has no stiff theoretical orientation but informs ongoing debates about changing forms of ethnicity relations between minorities and the state, minorities rights and survival, native discourse, the sustainability of tropical forest use and the neo-romantic environmentalist myth of so-called wise traditional peoples.


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Introduction Borneo HunterGatherers and Change
Resourceful Children of the Forest The Kalimantan Punan through the Twentieth Century
The Emergence of the Ethnic Category Bhuket Diversity and the Collective Huntergatherer Identity in Borneo
The Punan from the Tubu River East Kalimantan A Native Voice on Past Present and Future Circumstances
Stuck at the Bottom Opportunity Structures and Punan Malinau Identity
Nested Disputes Building Mediation Procedures for the Punan in West Kalimantan
Game Pets and Animal Husbandry among Penan and Punan Groups
History and the Punan Vuhang Response to Economic and Resource Tenure Change
Continuity and Adaptation among the Penan of Brunei
Penan Ethnobotany Subsistence Strategy and Breadth of Knowledge
Prior Transcripts Divergent Paths Resistance and Acquiescence to Logging in Sarawak East Malaysia

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