National Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, 6-7 December 2005

Borneo Research Bulletin, Annual 2005 | Go to article overview

National Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, 6-7 December 2005


On 6-7 December 2005, the Kadazandusun Chair, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan, together with the School of Social Sciences, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, organized a 2-day national conference entitled Communities, Cultures and Change in Malaysia--Indigeneity, Identity and Social Transformation. The Conference took place in the Library on the UMS campus.

The conference was multi-disciplinary and covered a wide variety of topics concerning indigenous peoples in Malaysia. Session themes included "Tangible and Intangible Cultural Heritage--Continuity and Change in the Ethnographic Present," "Languages, Identities and Oral Traditions--Negotiating Change," "Environmental Resources and Economic Development," and "Indigeneity, Identity and Social Transformation." The papers in each session were discussed by a panel of discussants with active interaction from the floor.

The Conference attracted around 200 participants, including indigenous village people from Sabah, Sarawak, and Orang Asli communities in Peninsular Malaysia, members of the Jaringan Orang Asal Malaysia and of cultural associations, as well as academicians and researchers. Dr. Colin Nicholas, anthropologist and Coordinator of the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns, Kuala Lumpur, gave the Keynote Address. Speakers included Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Haji Mulia, Chairman of the Institute for Development Studies (Sabah), Director of Badan Kebudayaan dan Bahasa Iranun (BKI) as well as leader of Sabah's Iranun Community; Assoc. Prof. Dr. Dimbab Ngidang, holder of the Chair of Dayak Studies at UNIMAS; and Assoc. Prof. Dr. Juli Edo, member of the Semai community and lecturer in the Anthropology Department, Universiti Malaya.

A combined launching of the conference and welcoming dinner was officiated by Prof. Datuk Dr. Kamaruzaman Ampon, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation), on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Datuk Dr. Mohd. Noh Dalimin. The event took place in the Kimanis Ballroom of the Hyatt Kinabalu on the night of 6 December, and featured the launching of a new book, Selected Papers on Music in Sabah by the holder of the Kadazandusun Chair, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan. Also featured were performances of traditional Kadazandusun, Timugon Murut, and Orang Asli music.

The conference concluded with a plenary session entitled "Voices of the People." This featured a panel composed of members of several indigenous communities together with Mr. Adrian Lasimbang, Secretary of the Jaringan Orang Asal Malaysia, and Dr. Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan as moderator. The panel discussed various issues affecting indigenous peoples in Malaysia, with comments by participants from the floor. As Assoc. Prof. Hasan Mat Nor, Dean of the School of Social Sciences, said, "This conference provided a forum for indigenous people, whether academics or village people, to express their points of view and give their opinions about the papers, topics and issues presented." Assoc. Prof. Hasan is an anthropologist who has spent almost thirty years doing research among the Orang Asli, while Dr. Jacqueline is an ethnomusicologist who first came to Sabah in 1977 and has conducted research among the Kadazandusun and other indigenous communities in Sabah.

Selected Papers on Music in Sabah is an edited compilation of papers by Assoc. Prof. Dr. Jacqueline Pugh-Kitingan, Kadazandusun Chair, based on ethnomusicological and ethnographic research in Sabah over the past two decades. Its purpose is to introduce the reader to various aspects of traditional Sabahan music. The papers have been revised, updated, and restructured as book chapters. The chapters in Part I introduce the reader to the historical and cultural background to music in Sabah. Part II examines aspects of music among the Kadazandusun, the largest indigenous ethnic community in Sabah, while Part III investigates the instrumental music of various coastal communities, including several Bajau groups, the Iranun, and the Tindal Dusun (a branch of the Kadazandusun). …

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National Conference on Indigenous Peoples, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Kota Kinabalu, 6-7 December 2005
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