2007, Research Series in Anthropology: Survival in the Rainforest: Change and Resilience among the Punan Vuhang of Eastern Sarawak, Malaysia

Article excerpt

Chan, Henry, 2007, Survival in the Rainforest: Change and resilience among the Punan Vuhang of Eastern Sarawak, Malaysia. Ph.D. dissertation/Research Series in Anthropology, University of Helsinki. ISBN 978-952-10-3918-8 (paperback), vii+401 pp.

This dissertation concerns the Punan Vuhang, former hunter-gatherers who are now part-time farmers living in an area of remote rainforest in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. It covers two themes: first, examining their methods of securing a livelihood in the rainforest, and second, looking at their adaptation to a settled life and agriculture, and their response to rapid and large-scale commercial logging. This study engages the long-running debates among anthropologists and ecologists on whether recent hunting-gathering societies were able to survive in the tropical rainforest without dependence on farming societies for food resources. In the search for evidence, the study poses three questions. What food resources were available to rainforest hunter-gatherers? How did they hunt and gather these foods? How did they cope with periodic food shortages? In fashioning a life in the rainforest, the Punan Vuhang survived resource scarcity by developing adaptive strategies through intensive use of their knowledge of the forest and its resources. …