Event Title

Presentation, "Accommodating Change: Instruction and the Orang Asli of Belum Temengor"

Start Date

12-6-2014 2:45 PM

End Date

12-6-2014 4:00 PM

Description

ABSTRACT — My paper will be on the Indigenous communities I continue to work with in the Belum-Temengor (BT) in Hulu Perak. The paper will start by exploring how over the last seventy years, government activities have slowly transformed and dominated over the BT landscape. Following from Scott, government maps are exercise in creating legibility and asserting sovereignty. Over time, government maps tell us of how government vision changes, expand, etc. Spanning over seven decades, the image of government as complex, fragmented and in constant flux becomes apparent. The maps I am looking at covers a temporal space from the 1960′s to the present. The historical maps (as some have become more an archive document) and conversations about government vision as in constant change provide a backdrop to a more contemporary discussion.My interest in studying the Indigenous peoples of BT, focuses on relationships between the indigenous groups, non-indigenous actors, and the landscape rooted very much in the present times. I plan to explore the relationships mainly through discussion I have had with some leaders of the community over their notion of customary land; how they view non-indigenous actors in the landscape; including conservation based non-governmental organizations, commercial enterprises and government agencies. The argument I make on accommodation, weaves through narratives on how a the Jahai (predominantly) and the Temiar in the Belum-Temengor construct intrusion and have worked to accommodate different non-indigenous actors, while recognizing their diminished strength in maintaining control over the landscape.In the past they recognized their control was strategic. Today, however, their claim over the landscape is based on moral authority (until and unless they have to take their case to court). They apply multiple strategies in staking their claim. Among these include, that they recognize the significance of the conservation NGOs argument and argue that as indigenous peoples, they are the natural custodians of the natural landscape and resources; they expressed the argument of indigenous rights in claiming their land as ancestral; and in recognizing strength in numbers, there are those who take to the ruling government, some members of the community are reaching out to create alliances with broader state and national base indigenous networks. There are however, some who remain entrenched in their ‘old ways’ distrusting of everyone else but their immediate group.

The challenge for the indigenous community in the BT is one of being sidelined from growth but more importantly, of losing their claim to the land. Through an ongoing exercise in community mapping, discussion and the different approaches to drawing maps have exposed a deep-seated anxiety within the indigenous groups, not only over loss of land to non-indigenous groups, but also loss of land from internal disputes. Their notion of land is a clear conception of group rights; with clear boundaries and rules for access to natural resources. Thus, with the change in the physical landscape due to the construction of the Temengor dam in the 1970’s, as well as recent robust intrusion from non-indigenous actors I am interested to explore how much of traditional notions remain valid to community members and leaders.

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Jun 12th, 2:45 PM Jun 12th, 4:00 PM

Presentation, "Accommodating Change: Instruction and the Orang Asli of Belum Temengor"

ABSTRACT — My paper will be on the Indigenous communities I continue to work with in the Belum-Temengor (BT) in Hulu Perak. The paper will start by exploring how over the last seventy years, government activities have slowly transformed and dominated over the BT landscape. Following from Scott, government maps are exercise in creating legibility and asserting sovereignty. Over time, government maps tell us of how government vision changes, expand, etc. Spanning over seven decades, the image of government as complex, fragmented and in constant flux becomes apparent. The maps I am looking at covers a temporal space from the 1960′s to the present. The historical maps (as some have become more an archive document) and conversations about government vision as in constant change provide a backdrop to a more contemporary discussion.My interest in studying the Indigenous peoples of BT, focuses on relationships between the indigenous groups, non-indigenous actors, and the landscape rooted very much in the present times. I plan to explore the relationships mainly through discussion I have had with some leaders of the community over their notion of customary land; how they view non-indigenous actors in the landscape; including conservation based non-governmental organizations, commercial enterprises and government agencies. The argument I make on accommodation, weaves through narratives on how a the Jahai (predominantly) and the Temiar in the Belum-Temengor construct intrusion and have worked to accommodate different non-indigenous actors, while recognizing their diminished strength in maintaining control over the landscape.In the past they recognized their control was strategic. Today, however, their claim over the landscape is based on moral authority (until and unless they have to take their case to court). They apply multiple strategies in staking their claim. Among these include, that they recognize the significance of the conservation NGOs argument and argue that as indigenous peoples, they are the natural custodians of the natural landscape and resources; they expressed the argument of indigenous rights in claiming their land as ancestral; and in recognizing strength in numbers, there are those who take to the ruling government, some members of the community are reaching out to create alliances with broader state and national base indigenous networks. There are however, some who remain entrenched in their ‘old ways’ distrusting of everyone else but their immediate group.

The challenge for the indigenous community in the BT is one of being sidelined from growth but more importantly, of losing their claim to the land. Through an ongoing exercise in community mapping, discussion and the different approaches to drawing maps have exposed a deep-seated anxiety within the indigenous groups, not only over loss of land to non-indigenous groups, but also loss of land from internal disputes. Their notion of land is a clear conception of group rights; with clear boundaries and rules for access to natural resources. Thus, with the change in the physical landscape due to the construction of the Temengor dam in the 1970’s, as well as recent robust intrusion from non-indigenous actors I am interested to explore how much of traditional notions remain valid to community members and leaders.