The Orang Suku Laut of Riau, Indonesia

The inalienable gift of territory

By Cynthia Chou

© 2009 – Routledge

180 pages | 20 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Paperback: 9780415626231
pub: 2012-03-29
US Dollars$54.95
Hardback: 9780415297677
pub: 2009-10-06
US Dollars$160.00

About the Book

Land reform has been an indisputable part of Indonesian revolution. The consequent execution of development programmes for nation-building have provoked intense hostility over territorial rights. Global market forces in Indonesia have seen increasing flows of transnational investments, technology and resources that have resulted in great demand on sea and land spaces. In this momentum of change, several aspects of rural culture including indigenous populations, like the Orang Suku Laut (people of the sea) of Riau have been deemed by the state architects of development programmes to hinder progress.

For generations, the sea and coastal places have been the life and living spaces of the Orang Suku Laut and they claim ownership to these territories based upon customary laws. The developmental pressure thus generated has led to intense struggles over territorial rights. It has also raised issues concerning the social assimilation of indigenous peoples as citizens, religious conversion and cultural identity. Cynthia Chou discusses how Indonesian nation-building development programmes have generated intense struggles over issues pertaining to territorial rights, social assimilation of indigenous peoples as citizens, religious conversion and cultural identity

This book is a stimulating read for those interested in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Development Studies and Southeast Asian Studies.

Table of Contents

1. Orang Laut: People of the Sea 2. Social Organisation 3. History and Culture Change: The Making of a Marginal Culture 4. The Inalienable Gift of Territory 5. The Fishing Economy 6. Modernisation and Development: The Islamisation Process 7. The Transformation of Orang Laut Territories: The Growth Triangle 8. Conclusion Appendix: Orang Laut Fishing Gear

About the Author

Cynthia Chou is Associate Professor and Head of the Southeast Asian Studies programme at the University of Copenhagen. Her research interests focus on centre-periphery relations, indigenous communities and the relationship between movement and identity constructions in the Malay world.

About the Series

The Modern Anthropology of Southeast Asia

The books in this series address issues in processes of development, globalisation and change in Southeast Asia. Where appropriate they contextualise change and local responses to it by providing ethnographic materials on social and cultural forms and institutions. Although all the contributors to the series examine modern and contemporary issues in the anthropology of Southeast Asia, the emphasis in each book differs as authors choose to concentrate on specific dimensions of change and globalisation or work out particular conceptual approaches to the complex issues of development. Areas of concern include: nation-building, power and the media; technological innovations in agriculture and rural-urban migration; the expansion of industrial and commercial employment; the rapid increase in cultural and ethnic tourism; the consequences of deforestation and environmental degradation; heritage and identity; contemporary expressions of religious affliliation; the 'modernisation of tradition'; ethnic identity and conflict; changing gender relations; and the religious transformation of society.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Methodology