Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

Desire for Progress: The Kelabit Experience with Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Rural Development in Sarawak, East Malaysia

Academic journal article Borneo Research Bulletin

Desire for Progress: The Kelabit Experience with Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Rural Development in Sarawak, East Malaysia

Article excerpt

Since the early 1990s anthropological analysis of"development" has cast a serious doubt on the feasibility and the desirability of "development" itself. Considered as a failed industry, it therefore needs to be rejected. The Kelabit experiences with Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) as a tool for rural development in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, East Malaysia, however, do not fit this argument. For the Kelabit, engaging with "development" is largely about a desire for it, but within a framework of shifting economic and political terrains and changing cultural values. It is from this perspective that this dissertation highlights how the impact and effects of the introduction of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the form of Internet, telephone, computer, Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) in Bario have been mediated and reconfigured by webs of social relations and the intricate interplay of social, political and cultural conditions specific to the Highlands and also beyond it.

My findings are based on two different periods of research activities. The first of these involved personal experiences as a native anthropologist engaged in setting up and implementing the e-Bario project, which aimed to demonstrate the many ways in which ICTs could be used to improve the lives of "marginalized" groups in remote areas in Sarawak. …

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