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Modern Crises and Traditional Strategies

Modern Crises and Traditional Strategies: Local Ecological Knowledge in Island Southeast Asia

Edited by Roy Ellen
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 288
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  • Book Info
    Modern Crises and Traditional Strategies
    Book Description:

    The 1990s have seen a growing interest in the role of local ecological knowledge in the context of sustainable development, and particularly in providing a set of responses to which populations may resort in times of political, economic and environmental instability. The period 1996-2003 in island southeast Asia represents a critical test case for understanding how this might work. The key issues explored in this book are the creation, erosion and transmission of ecological knowledge, and hybridization between traditional and scientifically-based knowledge, amongst populations facing environmental stress (e.g. 1997 El Nino), political conflict and economic hazards. The book will also evaluate positive examples of how traditional knowledge has enabled local populations to cope with these kinds of insecurity.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-283-2
    Subjects: Anthropology, Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Roy Ellen
  6. List of Contributors
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  7. CHAPTER 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-45)
    Roy Ellen

    The 1990s witnessed a growing acknowledgement world wide of the importance of local ecological knowledge in the context of food security and sustainable development (Warren, Slikkerveer and Brokensha 1995; Sillitoe, Bicker and Pottier 2002; Pottier, Bicker and Sillitoe 2003; Bicker, Sillitoe and Pottier 2004). Much has been written of how this knowledge can help us avoid the problems associated with top-down development strategies, how it can provide cheap and appropriate solutions in the absence of modern health-care delivery systems and the drugs on which they depend, and how it can help conserve local habitats and maintain genetic diversity. It is...

  8. CHAPTER 2 Responses to Medium-term Stability in Climate: El Niño, Droughts and Coping Mechanisms of Foragers and Farmers in Borneo
    (pp. 46-83)
    Rajindra K. Puri

    Geographical scale is repeatedly emphasized as critical in analysing the human dimensions of environmental change. Human responses to environmental change occurring at different temporal scales need similar attention, especially mechanisms of knowledge transmission that preserve knowledge relevant only intermittently. Even in the tropics, seasonal variability in climate affects the scheduling of agricultural activities, such as the planting of staple rice crops. Furthermore, the start dates and lengths of annual wet and dry seasons can vary from year to year. Numerous studies document the ability of farmers to cope with these short-term variable conditions, through tolerant crop varieties, staggered planting schedules,...

  9. CHAPTER 3 Kasepuhan Rice Landrace Diversity, Risk Management and Agricultural Modernization
    (pp. 84-111)
    Rini Soemarwoto

    This chapter examines the process by which new landraces are identified and culturally validated, together with the local process for assessing introduced HYVs amongst the Kasepuhan, an upland Sundanese cultural enclave in west Java. I shall attempt to demonstrate how Kasepuhan balance the advantages and disadvantages of different landrace combinations and how this has been used as a buffer against uncertainty since the onset of the Reformasi period in Indonesia. Although, unlike the neighbouring Baduy (see Chapters 4 and 5), all Kasepuhan have accepted the use of high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of rice, the total number of recognized traditional landraces continues...

  10. CHAPTER 4 Responses to Environmental Stress in the Baduy Swidden System, South Banten, Java
    (pp. 112-132)
    Johan Iskandar

    Recent socio-economic and environmental events, including the 1997 El Niño and the 2002 drought, have placed new stresses on the swidden system of the Baduy, a cultural enclave in upland west Java. In this chapter I wish to consider two facets of Baduy experience in apprehending and managing these events and their consequences. The first is how their calendar, seasonal indicators and variation in the harvesting times for sacred swiddens (huma serang) are used to determine the date of the new agricultural year, so as to maintain the viability of the traditional swidden practice in the face of irregular subsistence...

  11. CHAPTER 5 Innovation, ‘Hybrid’ Knowledge and the Conservation of Relict Rainforest in Upland Banten
    (pp. 133-142)
    Johan Iskandar and Roy Ellen

    The Baduy, a people of upland Banten (before 2000, part of West Java Province), by reputation and by their own account, have during the late twentieth century resisted a range of innovations in agricultural technology. This chapter describes the particular circumstances in which they eventually and successfully innovated the planting of the leguminous treeParaserianthes falcataria. We also examine the consequences of this innovation for preserving a viable system of forest-fallow cultivation in an area of relict rainforest.¹ We argue that it was not simply the incorporation of this tree and associated synecological knowledge into an existing body of ethnobiological...

  12. Chapter 6 A Comparison of Traditional and Innovative Subsistence Strategies on Buano during Periods of Socio-environmental Stress, 1980–2003
    (pp. 143-165)
    Hermien L. Soselisa

    Agricultural and other forms of subsistence modernization typically seek to raise productivity through strategies that assume certain conditions of ecological and social stability. Where such stability is long-term and where the process of modernization leads to increased yields, dependable income and a perceived rise in the standard of living, there is a often assumed to be a corresponding narrowing of the underlying traditional knowledge base. Knowledge that in the past ensured some kind of buffer against uncertainty is increasingly perceived as redundant in the context of modernization. However, knowledge loss of this kind can create major problems where ecological and...

  13. CHAPTER 7 A Tradition of Change in Minahasan Agricultural Strategies, North Sulawesi
    (pp. 166-184)
    Simon Platten

    This chapter focuses on the manner in which cultural continuity and the social risk that this may entail are integrated into contemporary agricultural practice. Steward (1955) famously argued that subsistence activities were causal to aspects of cultural identity and social structure, though later systemic models (e.g. Rappaport 1968) have tended to downplay unicausality and emphasize the plurality of variables with varying influence in the system as a whole. Here I shall try to show how choices within this kind of dynamic system seem to adjust agricultural practices to fit local perceptions of cultural identity and social organization.

    The research described...

  14. CHAPTER 8 Cycles of Politics and Cycles of Nature: Permanent Crisis in the Uplands of Palawan
    (pp. 185-219)
    Dario Novellino

    The characteristics of contemporary Batak swiddens (short fallows, minimal maintenance, low yields, little crop diversity) are often perceived by government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) alike as inherited features of the indigenous farming system. These perceptions are based on misinformation and oversimplifications that have deep historical roots (Thrupp, Hecht and Browder 1997). Indeed, it is difficult to label current Batak swidden practices as ‘customary’ and distinctively ‘indigenous’, as the practices have adjusted over a long time to successive socio-political and environmental changes. Such adjustments and transformations accelerated after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines in 1986, and...

  15. CHAPTER 9 The Tobe and Tara Bandu: A Post-independence Renaissance of Historical Forest Regulation Authorities and Practices in Oecusse, East Timor
    (pp. 220-237)
    Laura S. Meitzner Yoder

    The new nation of East Timor has experienced decades of political tumult, culminating in full independent statehood in May 2002. Political transitions precipitated rapid forest decline under Indonesian rule (1975–99) and during the violence and reconstruction surrounding the 1999 transition to independence.¹ In response, villagers and government officials alike turned to displaced traditional mechanisms for forest regulation to manage locally important crises of forest degradation, specifically to address recent losses of sandalwood (Santalum albumL.) and gewang palm (Coryphasp.). Local actors revived and adapted the ecological institutions of ritual authorities (tobe) and forest prohibitions (tara bandu) to give...

  16. CHAPTER 10 Perceptions of Local Knowledge and Adaptation on Mount Merapi, Central Java
    (pp. 238-262)
    Michael R. Dove

    Interest in local, non-Western systems of knowledge extends back to some of the earliest work in anthropology (as exemplified in the writings of Malinowski (1935) and Evans-Pritchard (1940)). The pursuit of this interest was guided for decades by such questions as: Is there such a thing as a non-Western system of knowledge? If so, how does it differ from modern, Western knowledge? And how can we best study and understand it? In the 1990s the label ‘indigenous knowledge’ began to be applied to non-Western systems of knowledge (Warren, Slikkerveer and Brokensha 1995), and almost immediately a debate began over the...

  17. Index
    (pp. 263-272)