IIAS-ISEAS Series on Asia

Tribal Communities in the Malay World: Historical, Cultural and Social Perspectives

About the Publication

The Malay World (Alam Melayu), spanning the Malay Peninsula, much of Sumatra, and parts of Borneo, has long contained within it a variety of populations. Most of the Malays have been organized into the different kingdoms (kerajaan Melayu) from which they have derived their identity. But the territories of those kingdoms have also included tribal peoples both Malay and non-Malay who have held themselves apart from those kingdoms in varying degrees. In the last three decades, research on these tribal societies has aroused increasing interest.

This book explores the ways in which the character of these societies relates to the Malay kingdoms that have held power in the region for many centuries past, as well as to the modern nation-states of the region. It brings together researchers committed to comparative analysis of the tribal groups living on either side of the Malacca Straits in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. New theoretical and descriptive approaches are presented for the study of the social and cultural continuities and discontinuities manifested by tribal life in the region.       

Review

"This volume offers a range of perspectives on the diversity of the Malay world, with particular attention to marginal or minority populations often labelled "tribal" and/or "indigenous". Included is a collection of twenty case studies by scholars already known in the field, offering a mix of familiar and new material, all skillfully edited and shaped by Benjamin who sets out some common issues to bring the diverse contributions together. There are many ideas in this volume ... while providing detailed ethnographic and historical information in an innovative framework" (Pacific Affairs).

"This book is an excellent introduction to an often overlooked category of Southeast Asians. It is one of the few volumes available that brings together up-to-date studies of tribal people in this part of Southeast Asia.... It will be valuable to social scientists, government officials, development planners, aid workers, and anyone else who has an interest in tribal people and the diverse peoples of Southeast Asia. It is suitable for courses on the peoples and cultures of Southeast Asia and on the position of tribal people in the modern world" (The Journal of Asian Studies).

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