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Dayak Stories of change by cameron campbell


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My undergraduate thesis. An analysis of the development narratives of the Institute of Dayakology.

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Dayak Stories of change by cameron campbell

  1. 1. DAYAK STORIES OF CHANGE:An Analysis of the Narratives of The Institute of Dayakology and its Network By Cameron Campbell 1
  2. 2. INTRODUCTION In February 2005, I had the great opportunity to spend time in West Kalimantan,Borneo, Indonesia with the Institute of Dayakology, (Institut Dayakologi), or ID. ID ispart of a network of institutions created and run by the Dayak, the indigenous people ofthe island of Borneo. The network consists of several independent yet connectedorganizations that respond to various issues facing the Dayak people, and othermasyarakat adat groups in Indonesia.1 The networks are unified under the name PancurKasih, meaning Fountains of Giving, or Fountains of Care. Pancur Kasih is part of amovement that has attempted to educate and empower the Dayak through a (re)framing,(re)definition, and (re)construction of Dayak identity, using various narratives, projectsand programs. I was fortunate to be able to spend some time in several urban and ruralDayak environments in West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan to observe how thisprocess plays out. I was given a room in the office of SEGARAK, Serikat Garakan PemberdayaanMasyarakat Adat Dayak (The Union of the Movement For the Empowerment of DayakPeople), right next to the main office of the Institute of Dayakology and placed under thetutelage of Stephanus Djuweng. One of the tasks I was given was to help edit an Englishversion of a grant proposal for the Danish Government, which requested further funds forthe Pancur Dangeri Rubber Cooperative, one of the major programs started by ID and itsnetwork. I spent long hours at a desk engaging with the rhetoric, meaning and purpose ofDayak narratives and stories, and the Dayak social movement as a whole. As the Dayak 1 Masyarakat Adat translates as customary communities. It is often used to referto the indigenous people of Indonesia. 2
  3. 3. story unfolded in front of me, I became increasingly intrigued by its complexity and itspower. It was this experience, coupled with Djuweng’s sporadic commentary on theDayak situation that sparked my interest in the narratives of the Institute of Dayakologyand its network. Having learned that a central feature of the education and empowermentof the Dayak is ID’s publication of the Kalimantan Review, and various other narratives,I began to realize just how integral narratives were to the movement. They were essentialtools of identity creation, community formation, and agents of social, political andecological legitimacy, education and empowerment. It was not however until I took a trip to India that I decided to focus on narrativeas a method of analyzing social movements. During my brief study of the Chipkoenvironmental movement in India I found a book by Haripriya Rangan called Of Mythsand Movements: Rewriting Chipko into Himalayan History. The book argued that thevarious narratives describing the Chipko movement had removed the movement from itshistorical grounding and created a myth out of it. The book highlighted the importance ofnarrative analysis as a means of picking apart very complex social movements. Afterreading several other books on narratives and social movements, I realized that myfieldwork experience with the Dayak social movement provided me with a goodfoundation with which to pursue an analysis of the narratives of ID and its network. I feltthat narrative analysis would help unpack the complexity of the movement anddeconstruct the various stories and narratives that collectively define the Dayak people. This paper is divided into two major sections. The first section seeks tounderstand the use of narratives and their analyses as a tool for understanding social 3
  4. 4. movement. It also describes the formation and functioning of ID and its network oforganizations. The second section uses narrative analyses to reveal a number ofimportant themes that emerge through ID’s narratives and to point out the challenginginternal tensions that exist within these narratives. The complexity and tensions withinthe Dayak narratives of West Kalimantan, perpetuated by the ID network reflect forces atwork within the culture of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia and the world. Hopefully thisattempt to deconstruct some of ID’s narratives will help layer the reader’s appreciationfor the struggles of the Dayak.SECTION 1NARRATIVES AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS The central body of this exploration into the world of the Dayak of WestKalimantan is an analysis of various narratives produced by the Institute of Dayakologyand its network of Dayak run Lembaga Swadaya Masyarakat2, or Self-ReliantCommunity Institutions (an Indonesian term for what would otherwise be called NonGovernment Organizations or NGOs.) On a more general level this paper is about thepower of narrative analysis in studying social movements, and the power of narrative as apolitical tool and social agent within social movements themselves. Through my studiesof the various features and purposes of narratives I found that the Institute of Dayakologyand its network of LSM2 provided a perfect example of how and why narrative is aninsightful method of analysis. This section of the paper, therefore, lays out several things.Firstly, it explains, to a limited extent, why narratives are an insightful method of 4
  5. 5. analyzing social movements, and the Dayak social movement in particular, through adiscussion of the centrality of identity and framing in narrative. Through its variousnarratives and programs ID and its network attempt to (re)frame Dayak identity. Becausethe Dayak are attempting to keep their traditional identity and culture alive, saving itfrom its stigmatized past, while at the same struggling to adapt to modern circumstances,this re(framing) takes on apparently contradictory characteristics within the narratives.These apparent contradictions within the narratives are a reflection of a complex culturalsituation facing the Dayak. This section also discusses the power of narrative as apolitical tool and a social agent, in this context of indigenous social movements. Itfocuses on how ID and its network, and the Dayak at large, have adapted and remainedresilient and sustainable in the face of continuous change and pressure from variouspolitical, economic and religious forces.The Benefits of Narrative in Analyzing Social Movements: The Centrality ofIdentity The narrative sociologist, Alisdair MacIntyre maintains that, “man in his actionsis essentially a story telling animal.” As humans we tell stories, and we live stories inorder to understand ourselves and the world and to situate ourselves in the continuouschange and complexity of it all. As stories are told and lived, they do not only provideways of explaining what has happened or what will happen. They provide ways ofreflecting on our experiences and ourselves, and ways of predicting the future. AsMacIntyre says, “enacted dramatic narrative is the basic and essential characterization of 5
  6. 6. human actions.”2 The most important feature of narratives is that they are story-tellingdevices. Any type of story is a narrative and any type of narrative is a story. Stories, areas Walter Fisher puts eloquently: not isolated utterances or gestures but symbolic actions-words, and/or deeds- that have sequence and meaning for those who live, create or interpret them. So, understood, they have relevance to real as well as fictive experiences. Regardless of form, discursive or non discursive texts are meant to give order to life by inducing others to dwell in them to establish ways of living in common, in intellectual and spiritual communities in which there is confirmation for the story that constitutes one’s life.”3 The variety and diversity of narrative both as form and as a tool of analysis, aswell as in its practical applications, will become apparent, even when understood even inthe in the limited context of a specific social movement such as the Dayak socialmovement of West Kalimantan. The narratives of Institute of Dayakology and itsnetwork of organizations, vary in form and application from personal stories to academicarticles and books, from grant proposals to ecological maps and from collectivestatements to symbolic actions. IDs narratives establish ways of living in common bytelling a Dayak story that can be shared and experienced by all Dayak, and a diverseamount of people. Through the variety of their narrative forms ID gives a voice to elite,educated , urban and rural Dayak alike. As a result, they are able to speak to elite,educated, urban and rural communities on local, national and international levels. Asthese different voices are sewn together as part of the same collective Dayak story, they 2 Alisdaire MacIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dam, Ind.: Notre Dam UniversityPress, 1981), pgs, 201 and 194. 3 Walter R. Fisher, “Narrative, Reason and Community” in Memory, IdentityCommunity: The Idea of Narrative in the Human Sciences, ed. Lewis P. Hinchman,Sandra K. Hinchman (United States: SUNY Press, 1997), 314. 6
  7. 7. gain reality, power and legitimacy and become more beleivable, as they appeal to thehearts and minds of more people. Like Shakespear’s Hamlet, or the Hindu Mahabarahta,narratives are also often embedded within other narratives. Smaller stories are weavedtogether create and support larger ones. The various individual narratives of ID and itsnetwork cohere to present a collective story of the Dayak people that is also a type ofnarrative form. Although ID publishes and edits most of the narratives, they are notresponsible for all of them, and they are derived from different organizations, authors,sources, places and times. Narratives in their various forms, produced by and within social movements, suchas the Dayak social movement of West Kalimantan, provide the key elements of thesocial movement, such as the values they uphold, and their specific visions and missionsthat are needed to understand them. Narratives as a form of story telling also show andtell us how and why these specific values, visions and missions as well as other ideasrelated to them are framed and communicated. In their classical formation derived from literature, narratives can be understoodas a spoken or literary presentation in which, “past events are selected and configuredinto a plot, which portrays them as a meaningful whole with a beginning, middle andend,” that exists within a specific sense of time.4 However, in the study of narrative within the context of social movements,narratives diverge from this classical definition. In social movements many narratives donot have an end in the sense of a final conclusive circumstance that culminates the 4 Joseph Davis, “Narrative and Social Movements: The Power of Stories” inStories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements, (New York: SUNY Press, 2002),11. 7
  8. 8. sequence of events in a plot. Many narratives within social movements, like some ofthose produced by ID, do however have an “end” in the sense that there is a vision of thefuture that the movement seeks to attain. The type of “end” in ID’s narratives does notnecessarily show up at the end of the sequence of events in time, but is often representedwithin the body of the narrative by recurring references, examples and thematic motifs.Joseph Davis quoting Thomas Leitch writes, “Stories do not necessarily promise(although they may) that conflicts will be definitively resolved or the truth manifestedonce and for all; they promise only that something further will happen, or that there issomething else to learn.”5 This type of “end” is more of a goal or an “end in mind”, than an immediate endand is legitimated by the moral arguments justifying the vision, methods, ideologies andgeneral struggle of the social movement. Haripriya Rangan explains: Narratives derive their structure and form from their telos, a chosen end that does not reside in external nature, but is a moral choice constructed from within the material realm of social practices and asserted as an absolute truth. The telos is located in social actions, and these are what narratives ultimately aim to influence, to change or redirect in one way or another. Every narrative is an exercise in establishing a particular morality; and narrators often succeed (they are called charismatic or compelling when they do) when their narratives exercise a limited and limiting morality which renders most social and material practices, save their chosen few, as irrelevant, inauthentic, or illegitimate.”6 Within social movements, especially those involving indigenous people,narratives arise from and through processes of cultural and political change andexchange, and through experiences of success and failure. Most often the struggle to 5 Ibid, 13. 6 Haripiya Rangan, of myths and movements: Rewriting Chipko into HimalayanHistory, (India: Oxford University Press, 2000), 41. 8
  9. 9. reach the “end in mind” is a continuous struggle of resilience and adaptation such as inthe case of the Dayak. Therefore the social and material practices that are consideredrelevant, authentic and legitimate within social movement narratives, are alwaysculturally complex, even in the narratives themselves, often combing the traditional andthe modern to create hybrid answers to complex political, economic, cultural andecological problems. Joseph Davis in his book Stories of Change: Narratives and Social Movementsexplains:The analysis of narratives…overcomes key limitations in the framing perspective andilluminates core features of identity building and meaning making in social activism. Italso sheds new light on movement emergence, internal dynamics and public persuasionand addresses cultural aspects of activism that get shrift in social movement research.”7 The most important feature of narratives is identity creation and meaning making.From the time before modernity, when mythos predominated human epistemology untilthe current stage of post-modernity, narratives have always been focused onunderstanding individual and collective identity in relationship to the world of the mind,as well as the geographical, cultural and material world. The creation and communicationof narratives have been part of a universal process by which individual and collectiveidentities are framed and formed, and reframed and reformed. As human beings weunderstand ourselves and how we “fit in” with the rest of existence, through narrativesand storytelling. Narrative analysis clarifies that the “self” is not a static entity, but aresult of continuous processes of definition and redefinition. Narratives often serve asways in which multiple selves can be unified and placed into a harmonic balance. 7 Joseph Davis, “Narratives and Social Movements: The Power of Stories” inStories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements, 4. 9
  10. 10. As events and descriptions are put into a sequenced narrative form individual andcollective identities are given life and meaning in the narratives, and are manifested in thematerial and animate world. This process of identity creation occurs through thedevelopment of the characters in the story. The development of a character in narrativesis an essential element. I would even go so far as to say, that there a very few narrativeswithout a developed character or characters. It is through the development of charactersthat narratives appeal to us, and provide us with emotional, moral and even physicalresonance needed to understand them completely. Narratives play a crucial role in social movements that involve a peopleattempting to redefine themselves, such as in the case of the Dayak, or the NativeAmericans, whose identities and communities have been drastically altered,amalgamated, homogenized and most importantly demonized throughout history. In theprocess of redefining their own identities through continual cultural exchanges, newcommunities built on these new identities are often created through the use of narrativesand story telling. These imagined communities become reified as communities, nations,and empires. In the process of re(framing) and (re)creating identities and communitiesnarratives define history, and individual and collective memory, creating a newconsciousness built on clearly articulated values. Social movement leaders of all kinds whether capitalist, communist, orindigenous, who are often from the more educated or elite social classes use narratives ameans to solidify individual and collective identities for the sake of perpetuating andlegitimizing their ideological or cultural goals. In narratives, the specific qualities and 10
  11. 11. disposition of a character in a story, often typifies and defines the identity of the idealsocial movement participant in the context of their struggle. The power of narrative to influence the creation of individual and collectiveidentities, and the formation of communities is a central theme of my narrative analysisof the Institute of Dayakology and its network. The narratives, both individually andcollectively give rise to a Dayak “character” that is not static, but has some clearlydefined characteristics. One of ID’s primary concerns is defining “Dayakness” in the faceof constant change and pressure. ID are part of a larger Dayak effort called “The(Re)construction of the “Pan-Dayak Identity” seeking to create a solidified socialmovement community of Dayak power.8 An analysis of their narratives illuminates how“Dayakness” must be defined based on traditional indigenous values that emphasize theintimate relationship between the human being and the natural environment, but thatthese values must incorporate various characteristics that allow for processes ofadaptation with modern scenarios and different value systems. Analyzing ID’s narratives gives us a sense of how the institutional members areframing Dayak identity and creating new communities. Due to ID‘s focus on the creationof Dayak identity and meaning making, the analysis of narrative seemed particularlyfitting. The Institute of Dayakology, is an institution, an NGO (LSM) with its ownhierarchy, power structure, and social organization, collective voice as well as individualvoices. Narrative analysis illuminates how ID speaks to different audiences. It provides asense of what controls ID places on its narratives. Being able to compare my field- 8 Ju-Lang Thung, Yekti Maunati, Peter Mulok Kedit. The (Re)construction of the‘Pan Dayak’ Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minorty’s Identity,Ethnicity and Nationality, (Jakarta: Pusat Penelitian Kemasyarakatan dan Kebudayaan,LIPI, 2004) 1. 11
  12. 12. experience with ID’s narratives has also illuminated the social stratification within theDayak ethnic group as well as other cultural particularities, and personal ironies of ID’smembers. It has given me insights as to how rural people feel about the way they arebeing presented by ID’s narratives. Narratives by their very nature essentialize and simplify as they attempt to createidentities and meaning out of a complex world. According to Hariprya Rangan’s bookabout the Chipko social movement in India, narratives create a mythical world detachedfrom history and material reality in their attempt to order the various elements of themind or of life into a meaningful sequence. What Rangan’s exploration of narrative tellsus is that the interplay between narrative reality and material reality is complex, and itoften confusing, as to which one is creating the other. The question of what counts as anarrative and what doesn’t is a continual debate about the reality of narrative, thenarrative nature of reality, and the nature of reality itself. In my opinion the source ofreality is neither purely material nor purely narrative, but a complicated exchangebetween these interacting yet connected worlds. In many ways narratives reflect or mirrorcultural complexity as much as they may tend to mythologize, essentialize or simplify it. Especially in the context of social movements engaged in the production ofnarrative as means of individual and collective identity creation and communityformation, the interplay between narrative characterizations or definitions of identity,community or history, and material reality are very interesting. Narrative analysis revealsthe various tensions, ironies and apparent contradictions as a result of the characterizationof various cultural realities within narratives themselves. 12
  13. 13. This paper plays particular attention to the way the narratives of ID and itsnetwork (re)frames, (re)constructs, (re)creates, Dayak identity or “Dayakness” and thevarious tensions involved in such a task. It does this through an exploration of theapparent rhetorical contradictions involved in the process (re)framing the identity, andcreating a community of an indigenous people, who are continually adapting to changingsystems of identification and value. When analyzing narratives it is important to not raise them to a status they do notdeserve. Narratives are an insightful way of analyzing social movements, but in order tounderstand them completely I had to compare them with my experiences with ID’smembers and other social movement participants. Narrative is an important dimension ofsociological analysis, but it must be coupled with fieldwork that includes andunderstanding of current political, social and cultural processes. Narrative analysisbecomes most insightful when it can be compared with other theoretical insights andexperiences. The recent surge in narrative studies has risen because people have begun tounderstand the power of narrative as a political and social tool. In fact the increasedinterest in narrative studies is partially a result of a movement that disagrees with thedominant scientific and Cartesian paradigm and its mechanistic and deterministicconception of the self and culture. The “mechanistic” and “deterministic” approach seesthe self as a point enacted on by external forces, and culture as determined by simplemodels. In contrast narratives emphasize “the self-shaping quality of human thought… 13
  14. 14. the power of stories to create and refashion personal identity” and culture. 9 Narrativeenthusiasts also attack “the social-scientific project of elaborating a body ofauthoritative knowledge, more or less on the order of that which prevails in the naturalsciences.”10 The idea in claiming that there is “ a set of indisputable truths available to anabstractly conceived “subject” of knowledge” is inherently and historically oppressive,repressive and imperialistic and is linked to some of the worst cultural and ecologicalatrocities in history.11 An emphasis on narrative reaffirms and validates cultural diversityand the plurality of knowledge available on this multifaceted planet. In this sensenarrative becomes a critique on dominant understandings of rationality, methodology,and human epistemology.12 In my opinion, narrative analysis provides a deep analysis,and allows for a revealing reconstruction and deconstruction of complex socialphenomenon. As a political tool and a social agent, narratives offer opportunities for alternativeforms of knowledge to engage with the discourses of “meta-narratives” created bypolitical and economic authorities. In this way, narratives engage in theoretical andquantative elements, through their interactions with other narratives and become methodsof critical political theorizing and forms of resistance, resilience and adaptation. AsJoseph David observes, that narratives in social movements, “engage what Anthony 9 Lewis P. Hinchman and Sandra K Hinchman, introduction to Memory, IdentityCommunity: The Idea of Narrative in the Human Sciences, ed. Lewis P. Hinchman,Sandra K. Hinchman (United States: SUNY Press, 1997), xiv. 10 Ibid., xiv. 11 Ibid., xiv 12 Ibid., xiv. 14
  15. 15. Giddens calls, “life politics”, a politics which concerns “issues which flow fromprocesses of self-actualization in post-traditional contexts.”13 Narratives are veryimportant for people, like the Dayak, who come from oral and interpretive cultures suchand who have a history of understanding and experiencing themselves and the worldthrough various types of story telling. Through the use of old and new techniquesnarratives bring the power of the past, to the power of the future. Currently Third World (if one can use such a term) development, and itsdiscourses have taken a more cultural turn and are less defined by the Western standardsof economic growth and conceptions of knowledge that they grew out of. Today’s socialmovements, especially indigenous social movements in the developing world, are often areaction to development policies or development discourses that disregard traditionalmodes of knowledge, production, management of natural resources and culturalparticularities, in favor of what they may call more “productive” methods. The Dayaksuffered greatly under the regime of the authoritative dictator Suharto, when theirtraditional practices of slash and burn rice farming were considered less productive thanwet rice techniques, and other forms of natural resource management that were lesscommunity oriented. However, just as there has been a cultural turn in development policies, openingup a space for new paradigms of development, Indonesia, since Suharto’s fall, has beenexperiencing a gradual process of political decentralization, opening space for previouslymarginalized communities to engage in processes of alternative development. NGOs(LSMs in Indonesia) are playing a large role in these processes. This provides an 13 Joseph Davis, “Narratives and Social Movements: The Power of Stories” inStories of Change: Narratives and Social Movements, 5. 15
  16. 16. opportunity for alternative development paradigms that are a mixture of traditional andmodern conceptions to have a voice in local, national and international arenas, largelythrough the production and publication of various types of narratives. These narrativesare directly tied to a network of institutions that facilitate the empowerment of the Dayak.They do so through various programs and projects that are a result of alternativeparadigms of development combing traditional knowledge, like systems of naturalresource management with modern economic cooperative systems, and modern mediatechnologies. ID and its network have been leaders in devising alternative paradigms ofdevelopment through processes of resilience and adaptation. The evolving narratives ofID have played a key role in the collective movement of masyarakat adat communities inIndonesia. Indeed the linkage of masyarakat adat communities and the global IndigenousPeoples movement is in itself and appropriation of a larger global narrative. ID’s narratives provide great examples of what Arturo Escobar calls, “post-development narratives created in hybrid cultures.”14 Alternative paradigms ofdevelopment that arise endogenously from particular cultural situations have becomeincreasingly important to indigenous people struggling to keep their traditions alive whileadapting to modernity. Arturo Escobar quoting Garci Canclini describes hybrid culturesas “cultural crossings” that “frequently involve a radical restructuring of the linksbetween the traditional and the modern, the popular and the educated, the local and theforeign… what is modern explodes and gets combined with what is not, is affirmed andchallenged at one and the same time.”15 In the narratives, Dayak identity and culture is 14 Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: the Making and Unmaking of theThird World. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 220. 16
  17. 17. defined by a deep connection to a traditional cultural heritage grounded by an intimaterelationship with the natural evironment. This sentiment is coupled with the ability to beresilient and adaptive in the modern world, as a means of creating a livable balancebetween two worlds. In our complex world, nothing is simple and apparent contradictions are morepresent than clarity. Cultural exchange has taken on increased visibility. In this contextnarratives also reveal aspects of cultural tension and adaptation that appear as rhetoricalcontradictions within the narratives themselves. In the cultural interface between themodern, the post-modern and the traditional, the Dayak are struggling to keep theirtraditional identities and cultures while adapting to their marginalized economic andpolitical situation and removing culturally embedded stereotypes along the way. The“Dayakness” defined by ID becomes a picture of the past framed by the present for thesake of the future. As narratives create and inform identities in a changing world, peoplein the process of adaptation begin to take on seemingly contradictory qualities, both inthe narratives and outside of them. These so-called contradictions are part of the processof cultural evolution in the globalized and post-modern age. Cultural hybridity should nolonger be perceived as necessarily contradictory, only complex and continually changing.This opinion is derived from a post-structuralist understanding of culture. Culture andidentity are not easily determinable concepts. They are part of a continually changingdialectical and dialogical landscape, a kaleidoscope of human, societal and non humaninteractions. 15 Ibid., 220. 17
  18. 18. Cultural Tension In Dayak History In order to understand my analysis of the narratives of the Institute of Dayakologyand its networks a brief history of the term Dayak, and the Dayak people is essential. The Dayak can be generally categorized as the indigenous people of the island ofBorneo. Borneo is divided into four different areas, Sarawak and Sabah, belong toMalaysia, the Islamic Republic of Brunei, and Kalimantan, the largest portion, whichbelongs to the Republic of Indonesia. The Dutch colonial authorities and Malay Islamic Sultanates under them had usedDjakker, as a designation of savagery, backwardness and irrational superstition, adesignation that post-colonial nations would adopt as well until the Dayak revival in thelate 1990s.16 However, the etymological roots of the word Dayak may also be from theKenyah (an indigenous sub-ethnic group of West Kalimantan) word daya meaningupriver, or interior, or aja a Malay term for native people.17 Once upon a time theindigenous people of Borneo had populated the interior and the coastlines, but most ofthe coastlines were taken over by foreign powers engaged in trade and colonialexpansion, as a result many Dayak sub-ethnic groups were pushed further into theinterior. For a long time the Dayak rejected this designation and refused to use the term,this rejection is what lead to the Dayak revival that ID belongs to. As Borneo became 16 The establishment of the Institute of Dayakology played a major role in theDayak revival that entailed a redefinition of the word Dayak stripped of its pejorativeconnotations. 17 Ju Lang Thung, Yekti Maunati and Peter Mulok Kedit, Reconstruction of thePan-Dayak Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minority’s Identity Ethnicityand Nationality, 32. 18
  19. 19. populated by an increasing number of different ethnic groups and religions, the termDayak, as opposed to Djakker became an ethnic distinction that differentiated them fromother ethnic and religious groups such as the Malay (who were generally Muslim), or theTionghwa (Chinese and often Buddhist or Confuscian or Daoist), or the Madurese whowere also Muslim. Because of the inherent pluralism and complex ethnic interactions inIndonesia, both in Malaysia and Indonesia, disputes over what constitutes any of theseethnic groups are still debated, but there is still a distinction implied in the ambiguity. The question of what it is to be Dayak has been an on going question in the livesof the some 4,500 or more sub-ethnic groups that have been considered Dayak in someway or another. This question is reflected as contradictions in the narratives of theInstitute of Dayakology. Certainly, the indigenous people of Borneo have had a sharedhistory, (albeit to different extents) of being socially, culturally, politically andeconomically marginalized by different religions, commercial exploitation andproduction, economic and development related projects, and subject to the domination ofruling powers for centuries. To adopt Janis Alcorn’s term, the Dayak are an “ecosystem people” for whomnatural resources not only provide systems of subsistence, but their customs,cosmological beliefs and laws.18 Most of the Dayak groups practice slash and burn, orswidden agriculture (although some practiced wet rice agriculture, or none at all) andhunting and gathering. As a subsistence agriculture society, the most importantrelationship is that between the people and their natural environment. Dayak livelihood, 18 Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous SocialMovements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia,(Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 1. 19
  20. 20. identity and cosmology continue to be reshaped by different systems of value and theDayak are forced to adjust and adapt accordingly. Throughout history, various religious groups have threatened and altered theirvarious animistic belief systems, known collectively as kaharingan. The Bornean regionhas been part of a long history of trading that introduced many religious influences. Sincethe 7th century until the arrival of the Islamic Sultanates, Hindu-Bhuddist Empires ofIndonesia had a presence in Kalimantan through trade.19 Hindu interactions with theDayak are a deep and complicated medley of historical, political linguistic and religioustransformations. The influences of Hindu-Bhuddist and Indian culture can be seen clearlyin Dayak animism and in systems of governance. However, it is believed that Hindus letthe Dayaks lead their own lives in peace, never forcing them violently to become Hindus,nor attempting to dislodge their traditional, beliefs, practices or systems of governance. The first Muslims to arrive in Borneo were Malay, Arab and Indian traders, in the12th century. The Dayak who converted to Islam became known as Malays and many ofthem lost their traditional Dayak identity, along with their animistic beleifs.20 However alarge sum of Dayak refused to become Muslim partly because their main diet was wildboar, and the religion of Islam prohibits the consumption of pork. Some Muslims fromKalimantan will acknowledge their Dayak heritage, but most do not identify with it. TheIslamic Sultanates who arrived in the 15th century were considerably worse towards the 19 Unpublished Dissertation, Larry Kenneth Johnson, The Effect of DayakWorldview, Customs, Traditions and Customary Law (Adat-Istiadat) on the Intepretationof the Gospel in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, (2000), 28. 20 Ibid., 31. 20
  21. 21. Dayak than the Hindus. Under the Islamic Sultanates the Dayak had to pay taxes of boar,chickens and rice and were often forced to become slaves. Christianity arrived in Kalimantan in several waves (depending on the region)beginning in the 1890s as a result of Dutch conquests of Kalimantan. The first Christiansto interact with the Dayak were Catholics (Roman Catholics and later Kapusins, branchof the Dutch Fransican Order), but Protestant Evangelist sects arrived in 1905 and beganto push into the interior.21 The Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, still have a hugeimpact on Dayak identity. Both Christian sects acted differently to the Dayak. TheCatholics were generally more lenient about the practice of certain pagan rituals (after aChristianization of them) than the Protestants, who forbade all other forms of worship.They both saw the Dayak as backward savages in need of a civilized ethical code andcosmology, a similar attitude to that of the Muslims. Christianity although it has continuously attempted to destroy and de-legitimizeDayak belief systems in favor of Christian hierarchies and ethics, has been very importantto education among the Dayak. The Dayak social movement in West Kalimantan wouldnot have begun had Christian educations systems not produced an educated class ofDayak teachers and priests. As well, Christianity has now become an importantcharacteristic of identity for some Dayak. Indonesia only recognizes five religions,Catholicism and Protestantism are two of them. Indonesia is close to 85% Muslim. In thiscontext, many Dayaks see themselves as being marginalized not only as animists, butalso as Christians. 21 Ju Lang Thung, Yekti Maunati, Peter Mulok Kedit, The (Re)construction of thePan Dayak Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minority’s Identity,Ethnicity and Nationality, 24. 21
  22. 22. The introduction of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity led to transformations anddisruptions in conceptions of Dayak identity, but Christianity developed the mostimportance among the Dayak. The Christian churches (mostly Catholic) gained manyconverts, but their converts were not forced to give up their Dayak identity to the sameextent as Muslim converts. However, many of the Dayaks who live in the interior areonly nominally Christian and keep many of their animistic beleifs.22 The Dutch East India Company (Vereenighde Oost-Indische Compagnie) beganthe commercially minded natural resource extraction in the name of economic progress incompetition with English and Portugese presences beginning in 1602. After goingbankrupt the VOC was taken over by the Dutch government and through variousalliances established their influence in Kalimantan.23 The Dutch continued the naturalresource extraction begun by the VOC in opposition to the subsistence methods of naturalresource management held by the Dayak. This strategy became reflected in nationaldevelopment policies that severely altered the ecosystems of the Dayak through (illegal,according to customary law) strategies of large-scale natural resource exploitation for thedevelopment of economic capital. The Dutch had a policy that when they annexed an area they would allow the pre-existing systems of governance to continue until new rulers replaced them. When conflictbetween the old and new systems began to compete, the Dutch had a policy of destroyingthe pre-existing systems of governance by eliminating their power over people and 22 Larry Kenneth Johnson, The Effect of Dayak Worldview, Customs, Traditionsand Customary Law (Adat-Istiadat) on the Interpretation of the Gospel in WestKalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, (2000), 27. 23 Ibid., 28. 22
  23. 23. natural resources. During World War II, the competing Dutch and Japanese colonialpowers contributed to the disruption of their lifestyles as they added increasing politicalcontrol over the Dayak. The Japanese systematically killed Dayak social leaders andother important community figures. However during the short Japanese invasion a groupof West Kalimantan Dayak fought against the Japanese without any other military forcesand created the independent polity called Madjang Desa, complete with its own King andsystem of rule. Majang Desa’s leader agreed that it was politically beneficial that theyjoin the state of Indonesia in 1947, after its independence from the Dutch.24 After WWWII from 1945 to 1960 the attempts by Sukarno to create an independent state of Indonesiaworsened and disrupted their lives further as they were forced to join another alienpolitical and economic authority. The political lives of the Dayak became morerecognized at this time, however Sukarno held the same orientation towards landacquisition that did not recognize Dayak customary laws (hukum adat in Indonesian).When elites from Java took over the colonial apparatus and wrote the Constitution in1945 this policy was adopted into an Indonesian context. The Constitution thereforerecognizes adat institutions and practices only if they do not interfere with development. The strategy of large-scale exploitation of natural resources for the sake economicdevelopment was implemented in a fierce and uncompromising way during the NewOrder regime of the dictator Suharto. The New Order regime was based on a form ofkleptocracy in which the dictator handed out pieces of masyarakat adat land within theresource rich archipelago of Indonesia to his political and military cronies with belief that 24 Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous SocialMovements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia,(Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 38. 23
  24. 24. private industries linked to the government would strengthen the economy.25 TheIndonesian elite, a predominantly Javanese group, were the people who had access tonatural resources that belonged to the Dayak. The values of the elite directly affect landuse decisions but are the basis for the development policies. Suharto’s New Order regime was based on giving out land, that he deemedsuitable for development purposes. Suharto continued with the Dutch colonial policy thatmasyarakat adat groups only had rights if they did not conflict with developmentpolicies. This, in addition to the corruption already inherent in the Indonesiangovernmental system, left the masyarakat adat with very few rights to land they hadtraditionally farmed and by their own customary laws legally owned. He also continued aproject started by Dutch colonials called the Trasmigrasi, in which people from the“inner islands” of Java and Madura, among others, were transported to the resource rich“outer islands” such as Kalimantan and Irian Jaya to work in various timber concessions,mining sights, oil palm plantations and other development projects that extractedKalimantan’s natural resources for commercial production of raw materials. TheTransmigrasi severely complicated land rights issues, as sacred land was taken from theDayak and given to companies and foreign workers of different ethnic groups. In the hopes that they would create a better and more equitable economy, TheWorld Bank and other large development banks like the Asian Development Bank andthe IMF, supported these neo-colonial policies. They did in fact boost the economytemporarily, through oil exports, but in the process these policies marginalized theDayak. 24
  25. 25. The Dayak were coerced into giving up their land, as chiefs were often offeredpositions of power. They were also offered the benefits of development, such as schools,hospitals, roads, electricity, and water supplies, in exchange for what were once their ricefields. In some occasions there was very little discussion and land was taken by militaryforce. Many rural Dayak did not enjoy the benefits of development, and simply had theirland taken away from them. The institutions that were given to the Dayak in exchange for their lands belongedto the same development system and had little interest in placing Dayak culture in theschool curriculums, or using Dayak rituals to heal people in hospitals. The Dayak weretaught to sacrifice their traditions, their identity and their land for the sake of modernityand development just as they were taught to sacrifice their religious identity andlivelihoods for the sake of civilization. The government sought to completely destroy swidden agriculture and replace itwith settled agriculture. During this process the neo-colonial government forced theDayak to leave their sacred land and resettle elsewhere so that resource-rich patches offorest could be utilized for mono-crop plantations of oil-palm, and for wet-riceagriculture, for increased production and economic development. Suharto’s New Order Regime marginalized the Dayak by perpetuation ofstereotypes representing the Dayak as “backwards” and “uncivilized” “headhunters” thatbegan with the arrival of the Dutch. These stereotypes legitimized development for thesake of “civilizing” an “uncivilized” people. The development discourses used therhetoric of national unity as a means to pursue economic goals, but ironically nationalunity was based on Javanese ideals. 25
  26. 26. Suharto was forced from power in 1998 ushering in a new era based on politicaldecentralization, which made the country vulnerable to social movements and sectarianproblems. The Dayak struggle became increasingly active in the political decentralizationprocesses in Indonesia since the fall and resignation of the dictator Suharto. After thedictator fell, a democracy was established and issues of legal pluralism and politicalautonomy were brought to the surface. Indonesia’s motto Binneka Ika Tunggal, or“Unity in Diversity” was slowly turning from a Javanese idiom into a pluralistic reality. The Dayak were furthered stigmatized by violent interethnic conflicts with theMadurese in West Kalimantan in 1996, 1999 and Central Kalimantan in 2001. Theseclashes brought various violent elements of Dayak culture such as headhunting to viewersall over the world. However, the Institute of Dayakology eliminated these stigmatismsthrough a (re)framing, (re)definition and (re)construction of Dayak identity, and thecreation of a solidified community of Dayak power.History Of The Institute Of Dayakology The analysis of the narratives produced by ID and its network must begins with asummary of the history of the social movement they belong to. This history is deriveddirectly from several of ID’s narratives, an article by John Bamba, grant proposalswritten by Stephanus Djuweng, as well as a book called The (Re)construction of the Pan-Dayak Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minority’s Identity, Ethnicity andNationality. The (re)framing, (re)defintion and (re)construction of the Dayak identity isrooted in the history of ID and its network of Dayak run institutions. The Institute of Dayakology was born of the Pancur Kasih (Fountains of Care) 26
  27. 27. foundation, the mother of the Dayak social movement in West Kalimantan. Started in1981 by a group of classically Christian educated Dayak school teachers (trained mostlyat the University of Tanjung Pura, and seminary school), Pancur Kasih was establishedon the basis that Dayak empowerment depended on better organization, politicalmobilization and a strong cultural base.26 These classically educated Dayak perceived thethe Dayak people as a whole, as being largely politically uneducated, disempowered,politically disorganized, but having the potential and knowledge to change thispredicament. As Dayak with a higher level of social positioning, these teachers thoughtthey could create a Dayak revival that would empower the Dayak people and deliverthem from the margins of society. Pancur Kasih emphasized, the “spirit of solidarity”,“self-reliance” and the need for critical awareness among the Dayak.27 These three valuesbecame central to the (re)framing of Dayak identity. PK began to set up schools that encouraged critical awareness among the Dayak.Eventually they started a Credit Union, the Pancur Kasih Credit Union, with easilyaccessible credit with low interest in 1987. This added an economic dimension to theempowerment of the Dayak people. However John Bamba (the head of ID) clarifies that: The core of CU movement is not managing money, but an education process that aimed at mental and attitude change. It is an education process the leads to strong spirit of solidarity and togetherness among its members in solving their financial problems. The key word is EDUCATION and the motto is that CU started, developed and controlled 26 John Bamba, “The Contribution of Institutional Resilience to EcologicalResilience in Kalimantan, Indonesia: A Cultural Perspective. (Personal Copy: DateUnknown), 25. A similar version of this article is featured in Janis B. Alcorn andAntoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience:Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program). 27 Ibid., 26 27
  28. 28. depending on EDUCATION.”28 Still, the credit unions became a central economic force for empowering theDayak people. In 1992, 200 credit union members began BPR-PAN BANK (BankPerkreditan Rakyat Pancur Banua Katulistiwa) to provide small business loans to ruralpeople and to empower people’s economic livelihood and encourage self-reliance.During the formation of this bank in the late 1980s, a discussion group was established toaddress critical political and developmental issues, as well as other social, cultural,economic and spiritual issues, facing the Dayak. During the 1980s, the Dayakexperienced severe political and cultural marginalization due to the dictator Suharto’soppressive governmental and developmental policies. The group became highlyimportant due to the tension created between the rural Dayak and oppressive governmentdevelopment programs during the New Order regime that threatened their lives, theirlivelihood and their land. In 1991, the discussion group was formalized and the Institute of DayakologyResearch and Development (IDRD) was established and was later assisted with loansfrom BPR-PAN BANK. Because IDRD dealt with a wide range of issue many of whichwere extremely critical of the Suharto regime, IDRD joined the less politically orientedLP3S (Lembaga Pelatihan Dan Penunjanug Pembangunan Sosial), or Institute forTraining and Supporting Social Development. Although IDRD functioned independentlyit was technically attached to an organization that was not politically oriented or blatantlycritical of governmental policy.29 Over time IDRD became Institute Dayakology (ID) and 28 Ibid., 27 29 Ibid., 27. 28
  29. 29. began to develop its own character, slowly becoming the nexus of the Dayak struggle inWest Kalimantan., If Pancur Kasih, moving with great force and enegery is the mother ofthe Dayak social movement, then Institute of Dayakology is the brainchild of thatimpetuous mother The Institute of Dayakology gave birth to several other organizations thatfunctioned independently but were part of the Pancur Kasih family. Shortly after theestablishment of ID, several other institutions were born in order to deepen the ability toaddress all aspects of Dayak life that had been affected. LBBT, (Lembaga Bela BanuaTalino) was established to revitalize the customary law systems of Dayak people and toempower the people through paralegal training and community organization. PPSDAK(Pemberdayaan Pengelolaan Sumber Daya Alam Kerakyatan) and PPSHK (ProgramPemberdayaan Sistem Hutan Kerakyatan) were established to advocate indigenoussystems of natural resource management and rights over the management of their originalterritory.30 PPSDAK was responsible for the establishment of a community re-mappingprogram that documents Dayak land and resource use based on indigenous knowledge. There are several other organizations that are part of ID’s internal network. Manyumbrella terms are used to emphasize that the multitude of projects supported by thenetwork are part of the same movement. A SEGARAK (Serikat Gerakan PemberdayaanMasyarakat Adat Dayak), The Union of the Movement for the Empowerment of DayakPeoples is an organization that deals with funding, facilitation, and planning for all of theinternal networks. It focuses primarly on economic strategies and logistics. One of themost important children of Pancur Kasih was Kooperasi Pancur Dangeri, also called 30 Ibid., 27, 28. 29
  30. 30. Pancur Danger Rubber Cooperative, a cooperative started by Stephanus Djuweng theExecutive Director of SEGARAK. Pancur Danger was a cooperative for Dayak rubberfarmers. established in 1994 in order to improve the economic standards of the Dayakwhile retaining its harmonious relationship with nature, and its organic and sustainablemethods of natural resource management. Kooperasi Pancur Dangeri also opened a lineof Dayak owned grocery stores that managed rubber transactions and sold house holdcommodities at affordable prices. All of the organizations, programs, community projectsand cooperatives of the internal networks are part of the Kooperasi Persekutuan Dayak,the United Dayak Cooperative. According the Djuweng, Kooperasi Persekutuan Dayakwas a strategic change of the acronym KPD (that initially stood for Kooperasi PancurDangeri), in order to strengthen the emphasis on Dayak solidarity.31Mediums And Messages ID is a research institution aimed at restoration, revitalization, restitution andadvocacy of Dayak culture and identity. ID is also engaged in a (re)framing,(re)definition and (re)construction of Dayak identity, largely through the publication anddissemination of various narratives. ID’s projects, programs and narratives are grounded in a vision and mission heldby all of the organizations in the internal networks.32 According to their website, Thevision is: Indigenous Peoples, The Dayak Indigenous Peoples iparticular, are able to 31 Stephanus Djuweng, “Pancur Dangeri Grant Proposal to the DanishGovernment (Personal Copy).” 32 See Figure 1 for a full list of the networked organizations. The last column is alist of national level LSMs that that cooperate with the network. 30
  31. 31. determine and manage their social, cultural, economic and political lives, towards selfreliance in togetherness in the spirit of love to struggle for their dignity andsovereignty.”33 And the mission, “To struggle for freedom from dominant culture, socialand economy through critical participatory research, advocacy and facilitation in order toencourage the growth of critical culture.”34 The Institute of Dayakology produces various types of narratives for variousaudiences, but they are all grounded in the same vision and mission and emphasize thecore values of solidarity, self-reliance and education through critical culture with anunderlying emphasis on their intimacy with the natural environment. ID’s narratives areframed to appeal to all types of Dayak people, the rural Dayak, the classically educatedLSM members and the elite Dayak. Their narratives are also framed to appeal to thoseinterested in interethnic solidarity in Kalimantan and Indonesia, larger social movementnetworks concerning indigenous people on both national and international levels (forexample NGOs and LSMs), as well as academics and cultural tourists interested in Dayakculture and social movements. In order to share information about the Dayak while encouraging critical culture,ID uses a progressive form of anthropological research called Participatory ActionResearch. This type of research is common in grassroots social movements as itsemphasis on developing critical analysis is often used as a tool for social and politicalmobilization. Participatory Action Research is a type of anthropology that, “involves allrelevant parties in actively examining together current action (which they experience as 33 Brochure published by The Institute of Dayakology (Personal Copy) 34 Brochure published by The Institute of Dayakology (Personal Copy) 31
  32. 32. problematic) in order to change and improve it. They do this by critically reflecting onthe historical, political, cultural, economic, geographical and other contexts that makessense of it.” 35 This type of anthropology involves what is often called the “subject” inthe anthropological process, as well as in a larger social process of empowermentthrough critical awareness. This method ensures the participation of whatever groupor person is being documented, in a larger social movement, giving them a sense ofsolidarity as well as fostering a sense of self-reliance, and providing them with acritical edge. It makes them a radical actor in a social movement that intends to beeducated and critical about the state of the world and, in particular, of the Dayaksituation. In this context, the Dayak can come to understand the process behind thedestruction and permutation of their cultural heritage and identity, giving them achance to redefine their identify for themselves while maintaining their “Dayakness”.Thus, the Institute of Dayakology upholds an understanding of “Dayakness” that is like atree, clinging to its roots in nature but branching out and gaining strength and power inorder to position itself in a forest of converging values. By producing these various forms of media, ID engages with the stories of Dayakwho have either suffered or triumphed, and have in the process provided an example ofthe importance of Dayak identity and culture, and the legitimization of its continuance.The narratives, apart from emphasizing solidarity, self-reliance and education throughcritical culture, also emphasize the cultural and ecological resilience and the adaptationthe Dayak have shown throughout history. The narratives often provide alternativeparadigms of development based on a mixture of traditional and modern knowledge. 35 Yoland Wadsworth, (1998) “What is Participatory Action Research?,” ActionResearch International , 32
  33. 33. Traditional oral narratives in the form of stories and myths that were central to the Dayakkaharingan, or belief systems, are translated into the narratives of the social movementfor the purpose of creating a dialogue between converging realities and conceptions ofidentity. As I will explain later, these converging realities and conceptions of identityappear as rhetorical contradictions in many narratives. Their most effective and important tool for documentation, education andadvocacy is the Kalimantan Review (KR), a monthly magazine that “aims atdisseminating the wisdom of indigenous Dayak people and the information on problemsthey are facing; providing a forum for mutual learning and empowerment, encouragingthe growth of critical culture; and promoting social reconciliation in Kalimantan.”36 TheKalimantan Review is published in both English and Indonesian and includes variousdescriptions in local dialects. The Kalimantan Review is a major source of Dayaknarratives and continues to tell individual and collective Dayak stories to variousaudiences. The Kalimantan Review has a special section called Swara Burung or “Voiceof the Hornbill”, which features articles about Dayak professions and traditionalknowledge, with titles such as “Labour Farmer.”37 The Kalimantan Review is available at ID’s website, wherethe Kalimantan Review and various books are available through a subscription or bydirect purchase. The websites acts as a narrative hub, where various other publicationsfrom the organizations within the network can be accessed. It contains a collective storyof the Dayak people, available to the world wide web community. 36 Brochure published by The Institute of Dayakology (Personal Copy). 37 Kalimantan Review English Edition Volume VII/June 2002. 33
  34. 34. Within West Kalimantan, the Kalimantan Review is delivered to both urban andrural Dayak environments and is meant for all literate audiences. KR is also available incredit unions, and in Dayak run grocery stores through out West Kalimantan. Projects,programs, and facilitations always exhibit copies of the Kalimantan Review to give toDayak participants. This way the narratives are not just for elite actors, or educated LSMmembers, they are a source for all the Dayak people. As a research institution ID produces individual and collective Dayak storiesthrough various mediums. These include books, DVDs, VCDs, videos, audiotapes, Dayakrun radio shows and books in local dialects, Indonesian and English languages Theseproductions feature rituals, oral stories, and particular responses to the life threateningdestruction and marginalization of the diverse Dayak-sub-ethnic groups of WestKalimantan. Their narratives also feature stories of resilience, success, protest,empowerment and community activism that have occurred as a result of variousprograms and projects sponsored by the internal network, as well as stories of selfmotivated Dayak people and communities working to save their lives, land and culture.To appeal to more academic audiences, ID has also published several volumes of theJournal of Dayakology including academic explanations of Dayak issues, and variousacademic books. Other important narrative sources include various grant proposals and projectdescriptions that, although not published for the public eye, are visible to a veryimportant audience of national and international grant givers and donors, and play a veryimportant role in telling, and selling the Dayak story. 34
  35. 35. ID also publishes and presents articles in local and foreign journals, newspapers,magazines and e-zines. They are often featured during presentations, and forums forindigenous rights hosted by local, national and international LSMs and NGOs. ID also have a library and a book shop filled called Budaya Kritis, (CriticalCulture in English) with educational books to keep the Dayak informed and educatedabout all of these things. All of the various narratives are available from the shop, and thenewest KR release is readily available. The books featured in the shop include thosepublished by members of the internal network, as well as translations, both English andIndonesian of important political theorists, economic thinkers and revolutionaries. Theshop also hosts a variety of merchandise such as bags, T-shirts, and belts that advertisethe Pancur Dangeri Cooperative saying, “Hanya KPD!”, or “Only KPD!” All of thesedifferent commodities assist in creating and perpetuating the Dayak story, they are alltypes of narrative communication. Both the website and the shop act not only as narrativehubs, but as outlets for the selling of the Dayak social movement. Although monetaryprofit is not the central aim of the movement, economic empowerment is central, andselling the Dayak story becomes a means by which it is achieved. Advocacy and empowerment strategies that promote education through criticalawareness, solidarity and self-reliance are also organized through ID’s collaboration witha network of internal and external institutions.38 ID is part of various other largernetworks on both national and international scales. Through these social movementnetworks, ID can carry its narratives that tell the Dayak story, and perpetuate Dayak identity 35
  36. 36. as well as expand the social movement into the stories of other “eco-system” groupsfacing similar problems. These networks provide a space where Dayaks can relate toother indigenous groups, or masyarakat adat dealing with similar issues on national andinternational levels. ID’s connection to larger networks goes back to their vision andmission.39 The networks of ID are part of a highly sophisticated network that has addressedall the different facets of Dayak life, culture and identity as part of (re)framing,(re)defintion, and (re)construction of Dayak identity. As opposed to simply creating oneorganization dedicated to Dayak cultural heritage, there are separate institutional unitsthat can respond to the complex issues facing the Dayak. It is an incredibly progressive,forward thinking idea that shows their intent is not necessarily to freeze Dayak culturebut to adapt it. The institutions create the power to continue the creation and recreation ofDayak identity, responding to the changing political, cultural, and ecological landscapeby combining a strong sense of idealism coupled with the power of practicalimplementation. These two things, I believe are, the signs of an efficient socialmovement. 39 Brochure Published by The Institute of Dayakology (Personal Copy). 36
  37. 37. SECTION 2: UNPACKING DAYAK IDENTITYAn Analysis Of The Narratives Of ID And Its Network An analysis of the narratives of ID and its network reveals the complexity of theDayak situation, as they stand in between traditional, modern and post modern worlds.Through the use of narrative, ID and its network are (re)framing, (re)defining and(re)constructing Dayak identity. As part of this process the Dayak are changing negativestereotypes and creating legitimacy and power. They are reviving Dayak identity bypropounding an inherent culture built on positive and appealing values and qualities.These qualities include critical awareness, self-reliance, solidarity, resilience, adaptationand a deep intimacy with the natural environment. New values and qualities create anew community of Dayaks that transcends geographical boundaries and unites them in acommon social movement while connecting them to other people. ID and its network arealso challenging historical oppression and dominant society’s development paradigms, asa means to regain their dignity and sovereignty while having to adapt to the inevitablerealities of modernity. In the process of (re)framing, (re)definition and (re)construction, the narrativesreveal internal inconsistencies that can create contradictory messages about Dayakidentity, on collective and individual levels, and perpetuate new and often romanticizedstereotypes. The layers of narrative extend these transformations from the local to thenational and international realm where they are appropriated into larger narratives. 37
  38. 38. The Revival Of Dayak Identity The (re)framing (re)definition and (re)construction of Dayak identity in WestKalimantan began with the creation of the Pancur Kasih Foundation, and the birth of theInstitute of Dayakology and its internal network of Dayak run organizations. Ju-LangThung writes, “For the Dayak of Kalimantan, the establishment of the Institute orDayakology in the mid 1970s represented the revival of the Dayak identity that for solong -- due to the historical marginalization and embarrassment of the Dutch colonialperiod -- had been denied by the Dayak themselves.”40 The concept of the revival of Dayak identity by ID, and the consequent(re)framing, (re)definition, and (re)construction of it, is based on eliminating thenegative characteristics associated with Dayak identity and culture, and replacing themwith positive characteristics. This process is largely a reaction to the historicalstigmatisms characterizing the Dayak as “primitive”, “backwards” and “savage”headhunters who are brought easily to violence, incite interethnic tension, and practice an“unproductive” form of agriculture. ID’s (re)framing of Dayak identity is also part of theprocess of delivering them from a position of disempowerment. As Ju-Lang Thung puts itin an explanation of the Dayak revival: The Dayak realized the process of subordination by the so-called “outsiders” was partly supported by their own powerless situation. Therefore in an effort to change their unfavorable position, empowerment becomes the key word which is used to create a “New Dayak”, a Dayak who could stand up to others if necessary and who is able to sit and speak with non Dayak if necessary. 41 40 Ibid., 2. 41 Ibid., 4. 38
  39. 39. These negative stereotypes are linked to the continual oppression andmarginalization practiced by both the colonial and national governments. Ju-Lang Thunghas positioned the Institute of Dayakology within the larger (re)construction of the Pan-Dayak identity that seeks to redefine perceived characteristics of Dayak identity.42 Theprocess of (re)constructing and (re)framing of the Dayak identity requires a change in theperception of the ethnic, local, national and international population as well as the Dayakthemselves.. As Ju Lang Thung says, “Today we are witnessing the emergence of the so-called Pan-Dayak movement involving not only the Dayak in Kalimantan-Indonesia, butalso those in Sarawak-Malaysia…”43The (re)construction of the Pan-Dayak identity is anew term that evolved as result of various violent interethnic clashes between the Dayakand the Madurese in 1996, 1999, and 2001 that reproduced negative stereotypes of Dayakidentity because some of the attacks were started by them. The emergence of the Pan-Dayak identity is part of an evolving new community of Dayak power, that is beingwoven together by a (re)framing, (re)defining and (re)construction of Dayak identity. In many articles John Bamba, the head of ID, provides a description of what itmeans to be a Dayak that is based on their intimacy with the natural environment as an“eco-system’” people. In one article John Bamba is quoted as saying: Nature, the soil, rivers and the forest are perceived by the Dayak as the “common” house where all beings are nurtured and protected…The Dayak would not think of treating it exploitatively as the soil is our body, the river is our blood and the forests are the breath of life. These three 42 Ibid., 1. 43 Ju-Lang Thung, Yekti Maunati, Peter Mulok Kedit, The (Re)construction of thePan-Dayak Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minority’s Identity,Ethnicity and Nationality. Pusat Penelitian Kemasyarakatan dan Kebudayan, LIPI, 2004),1. 39
  40. 40. elements gives us our identity as Dayak people, give shape to our culture and beliefs, and also provide us with our livelihoods.44 This is a basic description of Dayak identity tying the Dayak to their traditionalcultural heritage and identity. Similar definitions, mentioning the importance of theDayak relationship with nature, soil and rivers appears in many of ID’s narratives. In thenarratives, the various Dayak sub-ethnic groups are also are unified by their commonintimacy with the land, their common state of marginalization and share a commonstruggle to regain the dignity and sovereignty they once had. As a whole, the narratives emphasize the power of a mixture between traditionaland modern knowledge in the creation of a new conception of “Dayakness” as a way ofempowering all Dayak and reviving their identity. Judging from several readings andfrom my experience in various Dayak locations from kampung kota to kampung desa(city villages to rural villages) , staying purely “traditional” (whatever that may mean) issomething neither possible nor a desired goal for most Dayaks. The destruction of Dayak life is given much attention in the narratives of ID andthe Dayak are often described as a culture that has been “destroyed” or pushed to near“extinction”. However, in the new narrative, as a people, the Dayak are no longerdefined as a stigmatized ethnic group. They are no longer identified with social, cultural,political, economic and religious “backwardness” deemed unproductive in thought andaction. Nor are they considered disempowered. In the new narratives, the term Dayak isone of empowerment, as Dayak identity is defined by the characteristics of self-reliance, 44 Ita Natalia, “Protecting and Regaining Dayak Lands Through CommunityMapping” in Janis B. Alcorn and Atoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous SocialMovements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia,(Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 61. 40
  41. 41. solidarity and critical culture, resilience and adaptation, as well as other positive values. The narratives weave a new Dayak identity by introducing new values ofempowerment and knowledge. However they also attempt to present these variousqualities as inherent to Dayak culture, as a way of counter-acting the perception ofdisempowerment both for the Dayak, and for others. The narratives also stress the characteristics of justice, egalitarianism, democracy,gender equality, and non-violence as inherent Dayak qualities. This process becomescomplicated because ID is forced to pick specific examples of these qualities form adiverse variety of Dayak societies, and present them as being more or less true of allDayak people. It requires a form of cultural universalizing that creates new stereotypes inthe place of old ones. The grant proposals of Stephanus Djuweng, from the office of SEGARAK, havea specific section where they indicate the values and characteristics central to theprograms. For example, in this grant proposal to the Danish Government we see howexplicitly ID emphasizes various characteristics and values. 2.3. Characteristics Proactive, Strong and Reliable 2.4. Values of KPD 1. Self-help 2. Responsibility 3. Democracy 4. Justice 5. Equality 6. Solidarity 7. Self-reliant45 45 ICCO Grant Proposal (Personal Copy) 41
  42. 42. In sum, the narratives of the Institute of Dayakology are framed to reflect a typeof Dayak that is self-reliant and is capable of critically analyzing the social, cultural,political, economic and spiritual situations around him or her, while remaining connectedto their traditional cultural heritage and identity defined by his or her intimacy with thenatural environment. The emphasis on solidarity as a core value does not only refer to a bringingtogether of different Dayak sub-ethnic groups under a common struggle, but an attempt tocreate some sense of solidarity with other ethnic groups in Kalimantan, such as theMadurese. Thus, the “New Dayak” is characterized as showing solidarity with otherethnic groups as opposed to causing ethnic tensions. They also collaborate with the various organizations involved in the Pan-Dayakstruggle in Sarawak and Sabah Malaysia to increase Dayak solidarity in Borneo. TheInstitute of Dayakology is a big player in a larger grassroots movement in Indonesiastruggling for the rights of masyarakat adat all over the diverse archipelago. They havebeen responsible for the creation of various institutions, alliances and coalitions that areat the forefront of indigenous issues.(Re)framing, (Re)construction and (Re)definition of Dayak Identity Although ID’s narratives are responsible for the redefinition of Dayak identity ina rhetorical and discursive sense, they are attached to a social movement that since itsorigins has provided an environment in which this (re)framing and (re)definition orDayak identity can be (re)constructed and lived out and have practical manifestations. Inthis sense the social, political and ecological landscape in which this redefinition is lived 42
  43. 43. out becomes a narrative of its own, telling a story about the Dayak struggle. Through itsvarious projects and programs, ID and its network create an environment where theDayak can manifest and realize the characteristics that describe them in the narratives. The metaphor of a play works well here. The Dayak are actors placed on a stagewhere they can develop and empower their character. However the play and thecharacters in it have a director, the Institute of Dayakology and its network. As a director,ID and its network control the ways that Dayak identity is (re)framed, (re)defined, and(re)constructed, and the way the Dayak story is told. By controlling the narratives, andthe practical implementation of projects and programs, they have a significant influenceover the actions of these actors, and the flow of events. At the same time, as directors, IDmust take special care in trying to tell the Dayak story to multiple audiences, andtherefore have to account for differing perspectives, while creating a cohesive anduniversally believable drama.Embedded Contradictions in Hybrid Realities Due to the complexity of trying to (re)frame, (re)defined and (re)construct Dayakidentity, the narratives present various apparent contradictions and tensions within therhetoric, as a result of conflicting qualities and values. These tensions and apparentcontradictions reveal the complexity of the Dayak situation, on both the individual andthe institutional level, as they try to adapt to modern scenarios while keeping true to theirtraditional cultural heritage. Processes of adaptation create interesting realities betweenthe traditional and the modern, the new and the old. This is especially evident in ID’snarratives and rhetoric about the evils of “development” and the practical necessity of 43
  44. 44. adopting and adapting many elements of the development process. These hybrid realitiesexist on individual and institutional levels. In the process of adaptation these tensionsreveal importance of narrative as a political tool and social agent in the process ofadaptation. These embedded contradictions manifest themselves in almost all of themajor narrative themes.Destruction, Resilience And Adaptation ID’s narrative present Dayak identity and culture as being destroyed and evenbrought to near extinction. They present this destruction and near extinction as a result ofthe historical disempowerment of the Dayak that was caused by continual oppression andmarginalization. As a result, a feeling of disempowerment became embedded in theDayak consciousness. Regardless of whether the narratives are from ID, SEGARAK,LBBT, or PPDSAK, as part of the same network and social movement, they all share asimilar vision and mission differing only in terms of their specific focus. All of thenarratives emphasize how Dayak identity and culture have been destroyed, even to thepoint of near extinction. The contemporary Dayak situation has been defined by a historyof political and economic marginalization that has attempted to destroy disregard anddiscriminate against their traditional methods of agricultural livelihood (particularly slashand burn), their religious beliefs, their traditional systems of governance and theiridentities, resulting in tremendous changes and problems. ID’s website, which acts as acentral connection to the other connected organizations, expresses this emphasis ondestruction clearly. The website says in reference to the creation of Pancur Kasih, themother of it all, “the background of this establishment came about from the reality that 44
  45. 45. the Dayak culture is in near destruction by the entering of various state developmentprograms into the many aspects of Dayak’s life.”46 The Kalimantan Review featuresmany articles on the destruction of Dayak identity, culture and land, especially on thereplacement of sacred Dayak sites and graveyards with oil-palm plantations, and timberconcessions. However, in their attempt to re(frame) Dayak identity ID’s narratives present a“New Dayak” that is resilient and adaptive. Resilience implies the ability to spring backafter being changed or destroyed, and adaptation implies being able to change with thetimes without sacrificing traditional values through assimilation. While ID’s narratives pay attention to the near destruction of Dayak culture andidentity, they also emphasize the institutional, cultural and ecological resilience, andadaptation exhibited by the Dayak throughout their history. The institutional, cultural andecological resilience and adaptation of the Institute of Dayakology and of the Dayak,displayed in the narratives have been used by other NGOs that are part of the vastnetwork of social change in Indonesia and the world as lessons in resilience. Institutional,cultural and ecological resilience are tightly connected to sustainable development, andID narratives have helped define an alternative development model that builds thisadaptive capacity to respond to change. Every action, protest or demonstration of resilience or adaptation by the variousDayak sub-ethnic groups, is presented in a way that it speaks for all of the Dayak. And asthe institutional, cultural and ecological resilience of the Dayak are presented as lessonsin the international arena either by the Institute of Dayakology they begin to speak for 46 Institut Dayakologi, “Institut Dayakologi: History,” 45
  46. 46. indigenous people as a whole. In this way ID’s narratives are iterative and cumulative intheir world view. The narratives of Institute of Dayakology have been featured in variousdiscussion papers, journals, and articles by national and international NGOs. Masyarakat adat groups like the Dayak have customary systems of governance,and natural resource management that protect and govern both people and the naturalenvironment they are part of. Being tropical forest people who have traditionally reliedon agriculture, Dayak systems of governance are directly tied to their management ofnatural resources. Through it’s narratives, these traditional systems of governance, andnatural resource management are promoted as alternatives to ecological and culturaldegradation. However international and national forces interested in pursuing their owneconomic, political and cultural needs threaten the existence of these traditional systems.Therefore local and national LSMs and NGOs, such as ID and its networks, are needed tofacilitate the revitalization and restoration of traditional practices and cultivate resilienceand adaptation by cooperating with and empowering the people. LSM’s and NGOs playan important role because they provide the means through which resilience andadaptation can be sustained. Resilience is sustained not only through communityorganization and solidarity but through policy change on local and national levels. Thestory of how the Dayak are responding provides a counter narrative to the dominantdevelopment models.Internal Romanticism The (re)framing of the Dayak identity was largely a reaction to the negativestereotypes associated with the word Dayak and the cultural practices it reflected. Many 46
  47. 47. of these stereotypes were based on violent practices such as head hunting that were partof the culture of various Dayak sub-ethnic groups. In (re)framing Dayak identity withintheir narratives through a communication of positive Dayak values, ID ends up counter-stereotyping the Dayak. In the process of rejecting the negative classifications of theDayak as “savage”, “uncivilized”, “headhunters” they internally romanticize Dayakidentity and culture. John Bamba’s quote, “the soil is our body, the rivers are our blood,and the forest is the breath of life,” is a good example of this.47 This internalromanticization of Dayak indentity can lead to new stereotypes and a presumption ofinnocence which absolves Dayaks of wrongdoing. In other words this romanticizedpersona can be used to claim that no Dayak could ever be responsible for environmentaldestruction, which is clearly not the case. On the other hand, this internal romanticizationof identity can be used as a tool of adaptation and empowerment. I witnessed first handthe adoption of various stereotypes as a means of invoking a feeling of power anddominance. During my stay in Pontianak, West Kalimantan. I was brought to the policestation and interrogated for several reasons. Firstly, I was the only bule (white foreigner)at a Dayak protest in front of the court building. Secondly my host father, StephanusDjuweng had not reported my presence to the police, as he should have according to thelaw. The police claimed my presence at the protest was not in line with mySocial/Cultural Visa and that I could not do “penelitian”, research without a letter fromLIPI the government sponsored research program. Djuweng’s failure to report me also 47 Ita Natalia, “Protecting and Regaining Dayak Lands Through CommunityMapping” in Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous SocialMovements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia,(Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 61 47
  48. 48. intrigued them. The police saw ID as a threat to their bureaucracy, and did not have thebest relationship with them. The policeman began issuing threats of deportation. During my discussion with a police bureaucrat, Djuweng, who was by my side,used various cultural stereotypes to scare the policeman. The policeman a JavaneseMuslim, associated the Dayak with ilmu hitam, a type of black magic that was verypowerful and destructive, among other violent and dangerous qualities. Various storiesabout the invincibility of Dayak warriors circulated during inter-ethnic tensions betweenthe Dayak and the Madurese, reinforcing a mythic reputation that had persisted forcenturies. Knowing that the policeman was prone to this kind of stereotyping, , Djuwengglared into the eyes of the police and held out his left hand. “Do you see this ring?” hesaid in a direct manner, “This ring contains the spiritual magic of a Dayak shaman, I haveshamanic powers. This ring has Dayak power.” The policeman stared into the ring, andshook slightly, acknowledging its power. “I see the magic in the ring, it is verypowerful,” he said. “The Dayak are very powerful.” This interaction becomes more interesting as it is embedded in additional layersof cultural complexity. It was never clear to me if Djuweng, even as a Dayak, actuallybelieved in the magical powers of the ring. However Djuweng co-opted the Javanesepoliceman’s stereotype of the Dayak as magical and dangerous as a method ofempowerment and adaptation. Djuweng may have been internally romanticizing his ownculture, but it gave him power and strength. Djuweng used Dayak power as a way ofthreatening the political authority. He successfully turned the power dynamic around,placing the spiritual magic of shamanic Dayak power over the political power of theJavanese bureaucrat. To me whether or not the magic is “real” or not is much less 48
  49. 49. important than the fact that it had an effective power over the policeman and that it wasused as tool of empowerment and adaptation.Anti-Development Versus Sustainable Development Janis Alcorn mentions accurately that, “Today, Dayak face two problems typicalof tropical forest people around the world where indigenous peoples are struggling toadapt to new technologies and need while staving off invaders, international investors, ornational governments that claim their resources.”48 The tension s are evident in thenarratives of the Institute of Dayakology. In the social context the Institute of Dayakology advocates a for type of Dayakthat is involved in a critical culture capable of understanding the social, political,economic and cultural processes that have threatened and altered their existence. Thisemphasis on critical culture is clearly evident in specific narratives. Most of the articles,papers and grant proposals written by the executives of the organizations in the internalnetwork are explicit in terms of their criticisms of modernity and development,describinghow these processes have created changes and problems for the Dayak. This tensionshows itself in the form of apparent contradictions in which ID leaders are critical ofmodernity, technology and capitalism that they see as part of the larger force of“development”, while at the same time admitting the benefits that flow from this force.Applying a Dayak critique, ID is a proponent of a less harmful, more appropriate, formof “sustainable development,”, while continuing to engage in some more mainstream 48 Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous SocialMovements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia,(Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 1. 49
  50. 50. forms of economic development (like credit unions). The anti-development rhetoric is part of a larger critique of capitalism, modernityand external influence in Kalimantan that recurs throughout various narratives. ID’snarratives commonly attribute the changes and problems in Dayak culture to several keyinfluences: 1) the teaching and spreading of Indonesia’s five major religions, 2) theintroduction of formal education, 3) the expansion of the capitalistic economic paradigm,4) the influence of advanced (modern) technology and information media and 5) theenforcement of national laws and regulations. 49 These influences were imposed throughthe rhetoric and implementation of Suharto era policies. Ironically, in spite of thiscritique, the entrepreneurial spirit, or character of “self-reliance” is actually shared byboth the capitalistic economic paradigm and the Dayaks own narratives. The result isthat access to, and engagement in, private commerce, the use of advanced technology andinformation media have been empowering to the Dayak. In an interview with Inside Indonesia, Stephanus Djuweng the ExecutiveSecretary of SEGARAK, clarifies the opposition to mainstream development in responseto a question about whom he blames for the loss of Dayak heritage?: 49 John Bamba, “The Contribution of Institutional Resilience to EcologicalResilience in Kalimantan, Indonesia: A Cultural Perspective. (Personal Copy: DateUnknown). A similar version of this article is featured in Janis B. Alcorn and AntoinetteG. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: LessonsFrom the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), andStephanus Djuweng, ICCO, Grant Proposal (Personal Copy), CCFD Grant Proposal(Personal Copy), KPD Grant Proposal to Danish Government (Personal Copy). 50