Chapter

The Forest and the Nation: Negotiating Citizenship in Sarawak, East Malaysia

J. Peter Brosius

in Cultural Citizenship in Island Southeast Asia

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780520227477
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935693 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520227477.003.0004
The Forest and the Nation: Negotiating Citizenship in Sarawak, East Malaysia

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Discussing the Penan of Sarawak, this chapter explores cultural citizenship by triangulating among three viewpoints: The national—that of the Sarawak state and the Malaysian federal government; the local—that of the indigenous Penan; and the transnational—that of the Northern (European and American) environmentalists. The study delineates the asymmetrical perceptions and power relations among the three groups. Government officials hope to convert the Penan from what they see as their present state of savagery into citizens of the national community like themselves. They view the Penan as a remnant of the past and argue for strategies to transform, improve, and update them rather than, as they say, attempting to preserve Penan lifeways as if the Penan belonged in a museum.

Keywords: Penan; Malaysian federal government; Northern environmentalists; savagery

Chapter.  24936 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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