Nomads of the Borneo Rainforest: The Economics, Politics,And Ideology of Settling Down

Nomads of the Borneo Rainforest: The Economics, Politics,And Ideology of Settling Down

Nomads of the Borneo Rainforest: The Economics, Politics,And Ideology of Settling Down

Nomads of the Borneo Rainforest: The Economics, Politics,And Ideology of Settling Down


"The Punan societies of Borneo, traditionally nomadic rainforest hunters and gatherers, have undergone a transformation over the past centuries. As downriver farming peoples expanded upstream and their cultures and technologies diffused, the Punan gradually abandoned their nomadic existence for a more sedentary life of trade-related activities and subsistence agriculture. But the culture that has emerged from these changes is still based on the enduring ideological premises of nomadism. This study, historical in perspective, examines the many factors - ecological, economic, commercial, political, social, cultural, and ideological - that have played a part in this continuing transformation. Bernard Sellato spent much of the past twenty years in the center of Borneo living with more than a dozen nomadic or formerly nomadic groups. From that wealth of experience emerged this major ethnographic work focusing on two groups, the Bukat and the Kereho Busang. Sellato reconstructs their history largely from oral tradition, demonstrating its value in understanding the political, social, and economic history of societies without a written language. The text is enhanced by photographs, charts, and detailed maps that allow the reader to follow the progress of the Punan migrations. Originally published in French as Nomades et Sedentarisation a Borneo, the work was awarded the Jeanne Cuisinier prize for the best French book on Southeast Asia in the social sciences and humanities. The English translation, by Stephanie Morgan, contains a foreword by Georges Condominas." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


This book is a translation of the original French work, Nomades et sédentarisation à Bornéo: Histoire économique et sociale, based on my doctoral dissertation of 1986. Nomades et sédentarisation was completed in 1987 and published in 1989, and received the Prix Jeanne-Cuisinier, an award for books on Southeast Asia in the social sciences.

The English version is not a revised edition. No substantial changes have been made. Constraints of the translation process have called for minor alterations and some reshuffling, as a close reader of both editions might notice, but these are meant only to make the data and the argument more easily accessible.

Maps are profoundly important to a study such as this. This book follows the French edition in presenting a set of detailed maps, their relationships clarified where necessary in one map on a larger scale. Here a grid has been provided to help the reader locate places mentioned in the text, through coordinates given in the Index.

Bibliographical references have also been slightly edited. The original list has been updated only by the inclusion of a few recent works of my own that seem relevant to the theme of the book and four important recent studies: Michael Heppell's report on the Bukat of Sarawak, the only study made of them so far (1989); Jérôme Rousseau's landmark book on the stratified societies of Central Borneo (1990); J. Peter Brosius' pioneering thesis on the Penan of Sarawak (1992); and a symposium paper on Punan hunting by Rajindra Puri (1992).

Besides the two histories presented here, the original dissertation also included monograph-length reconstructions of the history of the Aoheng (or Penihing) and the Punan of the rivers Murung and Ratah. These are being prepared for separate publication in English, along . . .

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