Impact of cultural integration on an indigenous population The Penan
How can we define Indigenous peoples ?
How can we define Indigenous peoples ?
Definition as used by the International Labour Organisation (concerning the working rights of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples, 1989) applies to:
both tribal peoples whose social, cultural and economic conditions distinguish them from other sections of the national community and whose status is regulated wholly or partially by their own customs or traditions or by special laws or regulations, and to peoples who are regarded as indigenous on account of their descent from the populations which inhabit the country at the time of conquest or colonisation.
How can we define culture and cultural integration ? Culture can be seen as a “way of life” which is passed down through generations. A product of our collective intellect and memories which shapes the way we try to make sense of the world. It is made up of beliefs, myths, language, literature, music, food, arts, institutions, technology, architecture, sports etc.
How can we define culture and cultural integration ? Cultural integration is the increasing integration of the different cultures found throughout the world and the diffusion of a dominant “global culture”. It could be argued that this leads to a reduction of the cultural differences and a dilution of local cultures.
The study of globalisation and cultural integration will lead to much discussion and often conflicting opinions. But it is undeniable that they are big topics and powerful processes. Just how powerful, relentless and pervasive can be illustrated by the affects of these processes on a small group of indigenous people living in the remote rainforests of Borneo.
Indigenous peoples Myths, stereotypes and prejudices
Savages, uncivilised heathens, White man’s burden
Noble Savage, guardians of the rainforest
Backward, a barrier to progress
Just simply people, no better or worse than anyone else.
The Penan live in the state of Sarawak which is in the Malaysia part of the island of Borneo.
The Penan population numbers close to 10,000 with more than 5,000 of them concentrated in Baram (Miri Division) followed by some 1,500 in Belaga (Kapit Division), around 1,000 and 700 in Mulu and Bintulu respectively and 200 in Limbang.
“ When I was young, life used to be very simple. No one drove the animals away. The forest was kind and offered enough food for all. Life has now become very difficult on account of the logging.”
Since the 1980s the Penan have been resisting the increase in logging in their ancestral lands by blockading roads. But faced with the combined force of logging companies, the Sarawak government, police and army they have not been able to stop the relentless destruction of the forest.
Penan longhouse – Batu Bungan The Penan are traditionally hunter gatherers living in the rainforest but most have been settled in longhouse communities as part of government “modernisation” programmes.
Some of these longhouse communities are on the tourist trail. Tourists visiting the Penan stalls in Batu Bungan which is located in the tourist area of Mulu National Park.
Gunung Mulu National Park 10% tourist areas 90% wilderness areas. The Penan have hunting rights within Mulu National Park and the newly established Pulong Tau National Park
Sarawak Energy Berhad has disclosed the location of twelve proposed hydroelectric power projects to be constructed between 2008 and 2020. Sarawak Energy Berhad controls the production and distribution of electricity within the state. The dams would submerge several Penan, Kelabit and Kenyah villages, displacing at least a thousand people. One dam would also submerge part of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mulu National Park. www.survival-international.org
Describe and analyse the impact of influencing forces on the culture of the Penan. (1000 words) Malaysian/Sarawak government, national parks, logging companies, energy companies, palm oil production, missionaries, tourism, NGOs Nomadic to sedentary society Habitat loss due to logging Ancestral land lost due to no land rights Impact on values and beliefs, knowledge and skills, clothing and material possessions, crafts and trade, structure of society and way of life (culture) Possible futures
http://www.bbc.co.uk/tribe - The website for Bruce Parry’s fantastic series. http://www.survival-international.org - NGO supporting indigenous peoples. http://www.friendsofthepenan.com/ - NGO working with the Penan. http://www.rengah.c2o.org - News archive on indigenous issues in Sarawak. http:// www.bmf.ch /en - Website of Bruno Manser Fonds supporting Penan and other forest people. http:// www.forestpeoples.org - International programme that supports forest peoples. http:// www.borneoproject.org / - Charity that works with grassroots indigenous organisations in Borneo. http:// www.sabah.net.my /PACOS/ - Sabah based charity that has worked in Sarawak on indigenous self-determined development projects. http:// www.surforever.com/sam / - Friends of the Earth Malaysia who have championed the indigenous cause for a long time. http://whatrainforest.wordpress.com/ - Film on deforestation and land rights in Malaysia. http://www.mulupark.com/htm/about_gunung_mulu/index.htm - Gunung Mulu National Park http://www.mongabay.com/ - Comprehensive website on rainforests Useful Websites Read Penan Doc 1 and 2