Beyond the Green Myth

Borneo’s Hunter-Gatherers in the Twenty-First Century

edited by Peter Sercombe & Bernard Sellato

Available from NIAS Press worldwide
ISBN Hardback: 978 87 91114 84 7, £49.00 (June 2007)
ISBN Paperback: 978 87 91114 01 8, £19.99 ()

This book is the first ever to offer a comprehensive picture of the nomadic and formerly nomadic hunting-gathering groups of the Borneo tropical rain forest. It presents a wealth of new research and covers all those parts of the island where nomads are or were known to exist (Sarawak, Brunei, and Kalimantan).

Borneo with its tales of White Rajahs and tribes of headhunters, has long excited the Western imagination. Today, however, there is another green imagination at work. Mention of the island is more likely to evoke images of tropical deforestation and concern about the cruel dispossession and displacement of indigenous peoples who once lived in relative harmony with their environment.

It is perhaps not surprising then that most books dealing with the nomadic hunter-gatherers of Borneo have principally been pictorial studies. There is indeed a dearth of scholarship regarding these peoples, a situation that this first ever, comprehensive review of nomadic groups in the Borneo rain forest aims to rectify.

Presenting a wealth of new research contributed by an international team of scholars the volume covers all those parts of Borneo where nomads (called Penan, Punan or by various other names) are or were known to exist and provides a comparative historical-ecological study of these groups.

The study is primarily concerned with issues of modernization (including the monetary economy formalised institutions centralized power structures, contractual relationships and extraction activities) and development policies. The impact of these policies is analysed with special regard to the natural environment inhabited by these small-scale societies as well as the use of its resources.

author image not supplied

Peter Sercombe comes from an academic background in Applied Linguistics and Language Education.  He has had numerous positions working internationally including Brunei, Malaysia, Turkey, Borneo and the United Kingdom.  Sercombe has an interest in sociolinguistics and Austronesian languages, in particular Iban and Penan.

Peter Sercombe comes from an academic background in Applied Linguistics and Language Education.  He has had numerous positions working internationally including Brunei, Malaysia, Turkey, Borneo and the United Kingdom.  Sercombe has an interest in sociolinguistics and Austronesian languages, in particular Iban and Penan.

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by Jennifer Alexander, The Australian National University
From journal:
Oceania 79 (3)

This authoritative text solely concerned with the hunter-gatherers of Borneo provedes a highly diverse and thought-provoking selection of papers.  All are well worth reading and accessible to both general and specialist audiences.  The volume is an invaluable resource for all Borneo scholars on the one hand, and all scholars interested in nomadic hunter-gatherers on the other.

This authoritative text solely concerned with the hunter-gatherers of Borneo provedes a highly diverse and thought-provoking selection of papers.  All are well worth reading and accessible to both general and specialist audiences.  The volume is an invaluable resource for all Borneo scholars on the one hand, and all scholars interested in nomadic hunter-gatherers on the other.

by Gerry van Klinken
From journal:
Pacific Affairs vol. 82, no. 1, spring 2009

“This is a readable collection on a fascinating and important subject.”

“This is a readable collection on a fascinating and important subject.”

by V. T. King
From journal:
ASEASUK

“…an excellent edited volume and one which will become part of the standard anthropological literature on Borneo.”

“…an excellent edited volume and one which will become part of the standard anthropological literature on Borneo.”

by A.V.M. Horton
From journal:
Borneo Research Bulletin

“…a masterpiece of incisive, nuanced analysis.”

“…a masterpiece of incisive, nuanced analysis.”

by Roy Ellen
From journal:
Anthropos

“…guiding the reader through exsisting work, corrects persisting popular myths about the Penan and Punan, and brings to our interpretation of their lives, a twenty-first century perspective.”

“…guiding the reader through exsisting work, corrects persisting popular myths about the Penan and Punan, and brings to our interpretation of their lives, a twenty-first century perspective.”

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