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(P37) Networking, resistance, and hunter-gatherers

Thursday 26th July, 2 – 3:30 PM. Room: C23 conference room

Convenors: Adi Prasetijo, Diponegoro University; Lye Tuck-Po, Universiti Sains Malaysia 

Discussant: Lye Tuck-Po, Universiti Sains Malaysia  

Environmental degradation has directly affected the sociocultural dynamics of hunting and gathering societies, ranging from outright obliteration of communities to more subtle but long-lasting social organisational changes resulting from relocation and resettlement. Documented examples of hunter-gatherer resistance include deliberate retreat and isolation, “false compliance” (in James Scott’s sense) with state-sponsored projects, and direct action such as logging blockades. However, the range of effective actions available to hunter-gatherers may be limited. Often, action comes long after the damage is done and lands are already appropriated and irreversibly transformed. Successful resistance almost demands that hunter-gatherers make strategic alliances with NGOs and other civil society groups. Recent decades have seen numerous examples of pre-emptive initiatives undertaken by hunter-gatherers working with researchers and scientists, and/or civil society groups (for example, through citizen science projects or community-led afforestation programmes to establish use-rights). What are examples of alliances that also protect environmental quality in hunter-gatherer territories? Are they able to build capacity in ways that preserve or strengthen hunter-gatherer autonomies, and how? In this session, we look for examples of successful and unsuccessful networks and their origins and long-term effects, and, as well, the strategies, frameworks and mechanisms of involvement deployed by interest groups that not only “build capacity” in project-speak, but leave communities qualitatively better off. 

 Papers

2:00 – 2:15 PM. What protects the primary tropical forest of the Upper Baram River in Sarawak?: Networking, resistance, the Penan

Kentaro Kanazawa, Shinshu University

Short abstract: This study focuses on the networking among the Penan, the networking between the Penan and the farming neighbors, and the networking between the Penan and the NGOs in Sarawak and overseas.

Long abstract: In Sarawak, commercial logging got into full swing in the 1980s and made the region the world’s largest tropical timber export base throughout the 1990s. Commercial logging has already reached the deepest parts of the forest near the border. Nevertheless, there is one area where the primary tropical forest remains unlogged at the Upper Baram Basin. This forest extends over 50,000 ha and is called Slaan Linau. Why does this primary forest survive in this area? Who has protected it, and how? The defenders of Slaan Linau are the Penan people who continue to hunt and gather in this area, and their longstanding resistance cannot be overlooked. To answer the above questions, this study focuses on the networking among the Penan, the networking between the Penan and their farming neighbors, and the networking between the Penan and the NGOs in Sarawak and overseas.

 

2:15 – 2:30 PM. Hompongon: the Orang Rimba networking strategies to protect their livelihood

Ekoningtyas Margu Wardani, the Institute of Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology, Leiden University

Short abstract: This paper discusses the dynamics of transformation process of the Orang Rimba hunter-gatherers in current context, especially on their networking system as one of strategies to protect their livelihood.

Long abstract: Despite the contemporary pressures of the Orang Rimba face especially on the forest degradation and encroachment to their livelihood, the Orang Rimba in cooperation and its network with Jambi based NGO named KKI Warsi have been developing hompongon system to protect the Orang Rimba’ territories from outsiders. Hompongon is a bridgehead garden/‘estate’ along the fringes of forests aimed at forestalling the encroachment of other populations into the forests. This effort is also designed to ensure that forest products, such as rubber, long cultivated by the Orang Rimba, can be developed in a sustainable manner to provide both them and their offspring with resources in the long term. It is hoped that the paper can contribute to the discussion of the adaptation mechanism of hunter-gatherers in current context reflected from the Orang Rimba’ experiences through their networking system with the NGO.

 

2:30 – 2:45 PM. Hunter gatherer group: can they resist? The study of several cases of resistance hunter gatherer group in Indonesia

Adi Prasetijo, Diponegoro University

Short abstract: The purpose of this paper is to show how hunter-gatherer groups in Indonesia are actually able to organize resistance against outsiders

Long abstract: The purpose of this paper is to show how hunter-gatherer groups in Indonesia are actually able to organize resistance against outsiders. In this paper I will present some cases of hunter group resistance in Indonesia, i.e. Orang Rimba, Mentawai, and Orang Punan (Kalimantan), and some nomadic groups who have settled (Talang Mamak, Batin 9, and etc). Some studies writes about the life of shifting groups and hunters in Indonesia are actually groups that do not stand alone. It even said that they used to be part of a wider society, which then isolated themselves, physically and socially. Indeed, they are part of an exploitative economic system, part of the trading chain where outsiders exploit their lives. One of the factors of change that accelerate of resistance to outsiders is the pressure from the outside and changes in the natural environment so drastic that it creates tension and urgency for them. The Indonesian government’s policy pattern on forestry ultimately also makes them work with outsiders. This resulted for them to create a pattern of resistance that varies depending on the model of cooperation that they interact with outsiders to strengthen their networks when faced with problems.

 

2:45 – 3:00 PM. Indigenous peoples and disaster risk reduction in Indonesia: the experience of the Orang Rimba in Muara Kilis, Jambi

Herry Yogaswara, Research Center for Population, Indonesian Institute of Sciences

Short abstract: This paper discusses the experience of the Orang Rimba (Jambi) in relation with the disaster risk reduction issue, particularly on the challenges the Orang Rimba face regarding forest fires and haze in their living areas.

Long abstract: Haze and forest fires in 2015 have given significant impact to the discourse of man-made disaster related issue in Indonesia and have attracted international attention due to the its coverage and impact of the haze. In the local level, this event gave significant impact to the communities particularly who live in the forested areas or near forested areas such as the Orang Rimba (forest people). While many efforts have been done by the government agencies, non-government organizations (NGOs) and other parties; the predicted and regular haze event remains unsolved over time showing that little attention have been made on the disaster reduction efforts. The paper shows that the Orang Rimba are very diverse communities, even though they are living in the same group. This diversity reflects on the variation of the sources of livelihood they have, as well as their adaptation strategies to face today challenges. It is hoped that the paper will contribute to the debate on how the various strategies adopted by the Orang Rimba, reflected from the experience of one group in sub-district Muara Kilis-Tebo, in handling the impact of haze based on the heterogeneity of strategies to cope with such problems. 

 

3:00 – 3:15 PM. The Semang peoples: shaping the future through resistance, networks, coalitions and pan-Orang Asli collaborations

Rohini Talalla, University of California, Los Angeles

Short abstract: Hunter gatherer Semang communities like all Orang Asli in Malaysia face accelerating economic/social change.  Negotiating a sustaining pathway through retooling/up scaling skill sets already in place is discussed through the creation of wider networks and collaborations.

Long abstract: The hunter-gatherer Semang peoples, like all Orang Asli (OA) in peninsula Malaysia, face accelerating social change, rising economic uncertainties and greater encroachment on their territories, mainly through the effects of development and urbanization. If this trajectory continues, future generations will experience increasing alienation from being able to move fluidly between both traditional and modern lifeways. In this context, the OA grapple with a loss of autonomy to design futures of their choice. Yet, to challenge this, they face powerful political and social pressures imposed by the state and market forces. Nonetheless, helplessness is not a defining quality of the OA character. The OA have always resisted, even if these responses have not been recognized by non-OA as tactical or intelligent manifestations of protest against degrading/marginalizing practices. This paper examines both subtle and frontal resistance by analytically exploring solutions with potential for political/economic self-help through flexible lateral collaborations, such as networking with experienced pan-OA professionals, academics, activists, OA NGOs and additionally with non-OA scholars, legal advocates and NGOs. Also included is learning from the successful actions of indigenous communities outside Malaysia. OA resistance is discussed through three categories: economic integration with modern/traditional options, changing socio-spatial needs and adapted traditional belonging.

  

3:15 – 3:30 PM. Discussant: Lye Tuck-Po

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