Malay Fishermen: Their Peasant Economy

Malay Fishermen: Their Peasant Economy

Malay Fishermen: Their Peasant Economy

Malay Fishermen: Their Peasant Economy

Excerpt

This book is a study of some Far Eastern peasant problems, based mainly on field research. As originally planned, it was intended to demonstrate four main points. The first is the need for much more attention to the “native” fishing industry in tropical regions; though forming the livelihood of large numbers of people, by comparison with the “native” tropical agriculture it has suffered from neglect by both scientists and governments. The second point is the need for more studies of the economics as distinct from the technology of these peasant systems; before the war the investigation and handling of peasant economic affairs tended to fall between the two stools of the administrative and the technical departments—each was interested but its major job lay elsewhere, with the result that the economic aspects of the problems were not approached in an integrated way. The third point is the need for basing generalizations about a peasant economy on systematic, planned research of an intensive kind. Just as a sound policy in matters of public health or of agriculture must be founded on a great deal of factual knowledge, carefully accumulated by trained personnel working on the spot, so also policy aimed at improving the economic conditions of peasant communities should rely to a large extent on a body of factual inquiries made by people whose special job is to make such inquiries and who have been trained for the work. The fourth point is the importance in such work of collaboration between two or more spheres of interest or scientific disciplines. Research into peasant economic systems—for which even ordinary statistics are usually not obtainable—demands special techniques for collecting the information. Some kind of fusion between the theoretical apparatus of the economist and the field techniques of the anthropologist seems called for, as one type of attack on the problems. This book is an essay in this kind of approach. Whatever may be its short-comings, I do think that it shows the need for more work of a similar nature.

At the present time much attention is being given to the ways in which anthropology can be of help in dealing with administrative problems. I think it will be generally agreed that no scientist . . .

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