DAYAK STORIES OF CHANGE: An Analysis of the Narratives of The Institute of Dayakology and its Network By Cameron Campbell


In February 2005, I had the great opportunity to spend time in West Kalimantan, Borneo, Indonesia with the Institute of Dayakology, (Institut Dayakologi), or ID. ID is part of a network of institutions created and run by the Dayak, the indigenous people of the island of Borneo. The network consists of several independent yet connected organizations that respond to various issues facing the Dayak people, and other masyarakat adat groups in Indonesia.1 The networks are unified under the name Pancur Kasih, meaning Fountains of Giving, or Fountains of Care. Pancur Kasih is part of a movement that has attempted to educate and empower the Dayak through a (re)framing, (re)definition, and (re)construction of Dayak identity, using various narratives, projects and programs. I was fortunate to be able to spend some time in several urban and rural Dayak environments in West Kalimantan and East Kalimantan to observe how this process plays out. I was given a room in the office of SEGARAK, Serikat Garakan Pemberdayaan Masyarakat Adat Dayak (The Union of the Movement For the Empowerment of Dayak People), right next to the main office of the Institute of Dayakology and placed under the tutelage of Stephanus Djuweng. One of the tasks I was given was to help edit an English version of a grant proposal for the Danish Government, which requested further funds for the Pancur Dangeri Rubber Cooperative, one of the major programs started by ID and its network. I spent long hours at a desk engaging with the rhetoric, meaning and purpose of Dayak narratives and stories, and the Dayak social movement as a whole. As the Dayak Masyarakat Adat translates as customary communities. It is often used to refer to the indigenous people of Indonesia. 2

story unfolded in front of me, I became increasingly intrigued by its complexity and its power. It was this experience, coupled with Djuweng’s sporadic commentary on the Dayak situation that sparked my interest in the narratives of the Institute of Dayakology and its network. Having learned that a central feature of the education and empowerment of the Dayak is ID’s publication of the Kalimantan Review, and various other narratives, I began to realize just how integral narratives were to the movement. They were essential tools of identity creation, community formation, and agents of social, political and ecological legitimacy, education and empowerment. It was not however until I took a trip to India that I decided to focus on narrative as a method of analyzing social movements. During my brief study of the Chipko environmental movement in India I found a book by Haripriya Rangan called Of Myths and Movements: Rewriting Chipko into Himalayan History. The book argued that the various narratives describing the Chipko movement had removed the movement from its historical grounding and created a myth out of it. The book highlighted the importance of narrative analysis as a means of picking apart very complex social movements. After reading several other books on narratives and social movements, I realized that my fieldwork experience with the Dayak social movement provided me with a good foundation with which to pursue an analysis of the narratives of ID and its network. I felt that narrative analysis would help unpack the complexity of the movement and deconstruct the various stories and narratives that collectively define the Dayak people. This paper is divided into two major sections. The first section seeks to understand the use of narratives and their analyses as a tool for understanding social


movement. It also describes the formation and functioning of ID and its network of organizations. The second section uses narrative analyses to reveal a number of important themes that emerge through ID’s narratives and to point out the challenging internal tensions that exist within these narratives. The complexity and tensions within the Dayak narratives of West Kalimantan, perpetuated by the ID network reflect forces at work within the culture of Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia and the world. Hopefully this attempt to deconstruct some of ID’s narratives will help layer the reader’s appreciation for the struggles of the Dayak.

NARRATIVES AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS The central body of this exploration into the world of the Dayak of West Kalimantan is an analysis of various narratives produced by the Institute of Dayakology and its network of Dayak run Lembaga Swadaya Masyarakat2, or Self-Reliant Community Institutions (an Indonesian term for what would otherwise be called Non Government Organizations or NGOs.) On a more general level this paper is about the power of narrative analysis in studying social movements, and the power of narrative as a political tool and social agent within social movements themselves. Through my studies of the various features and purposes of narratives I found that the Institute of Dayakology and its network of LSM2 provided a perfect example of how and why narrative is an insightful method of analysis. This section of the paper, therefore, lays out several things. Firstly, it explains, to a limited extent, why narratives are an insightful method of


analyzing social movements, and the Dayak social movement in particular, through a discussion of the centrality of identity and framing in narrative. Through its various narratives and programs ID and its network attempt to (re)frame Dayak identity. Because the Dayak are attempting to keep their traditional identity and culture alive, saving it from its stigmatized past, while at the same struggling to adapt to modern circumstances, this re(framing) takes on apparently contradictory characteristics within the narratives. These apparent contradictions within the narratives are a reflection of a complex cultural situation facing the Dayak. This section also discusses the power of narrative as a political tool and a social agent, in this context of indigenous social movements. It focuses on how ID and its network, and the Dayak at large, have adapted and remained resilient and sustainable in the face of continuous change and pressure from various political, economic and religious forces.

The Benefits of Narrative in Analyzing Social Movements: The Centrality of Identity The narrative sociologist, Alisdair MacIntyre maintains that, “man in his actions is essentially a story telling animal.” As humans we tell stories, and we live stories in order to understand ourselves and the world and to situate ourselves in the continuous change and complexity of it all. As stories are told and lived, they do not only provide ways of explaining what has happened or what will happen. They provide ways of reflecting on our experiences and ourselves, and ways of predicting the future. As MacIntyre says, “enacted dramatic narrative is the basic and essential characterization of


human actions.”2 The most important feature of narratives is that they are story-telling devices. Any type of story is a narrative and any type of narrative is a story. Stories, are as Walter Fisher puts eloquently: not isolated utterances or gestures but symbolic actions-words, and/or deeds- that have sequence and meaning for those who live, create or interpret them. So, understood, they have relevance to real as well as fictive experiences. Regardless of form, discursive or non discursive texts are meant to give order to life by inducing others to dwell in them to establish ways of living in common, in intellectual and spiritual communities in which there is confirmation for the story that constitutes one’s life.”3 The variety and diversity of narrative both as form and as a tool of analysis, as well as in its practical applications, will become apparent, even when understood even in the in the limited context of a specific social movement such as the Dayak social movement of West Kalimantan. The narratives of Institute of Dayakology and its network of organizations, vary in form and application from personal stories to academic articles and books, from grant proposals to ecological maps and from collective statements to symbolic actions. ID's narratives establish ways of living in common by telling a Dayak story that can be shared and experienced by all Dayak, and a diverse amount of people. Through the variety of their narrative forms ID gives a voice to elite, educated , urban and rural Dayak alike. As a result, they are able to speak to elite, educated, urban and rural communities on local, national and international levels. As these different voices are sewn together as part of the same collective Dayak story, they Alisdaire MacIntyre, After Virtue (Notre Dam, Ind.: Notre Dam University Press, 1981), pgs, 201 and 194. Walter R. Fisher, “Narrative, Reason and Community” in Memory, Identity Community: The Idea of Narrative in the Human Sciences, ed. Lewis P. Hinchman, Sandra K. Hinchman (United States: SUNY Press, 1997), 314. 6
3 2

gain reality, power and legitimacy and become more beleivable, as they appeal to the hearts and minds of more people. Like Shakespear’s Hamlet, or the Hindu Mahabarahta, narratives are also often embedded within other narratives. Smaller stories are weaved together create and support larger ones. The various individual narratives of ID and its network cohere to present a collective story of the Dayak people that is also a type of narrative form. Although ID publishes and edits most of the narratives, they are not responsible for all of them, and they are derived from different organizations, authors, sources, places and times. Narratives in their various forms, produced by and within social movements, such as the Dayak social movement of West Kalimantan, provide the key elements of the social movement, such as the values they uphold, and their specific visions and missions that are needed to understand them. Narratives as a form of story telling also show and tell us how and why these specific values, visions and missions as well as other ideas related to them are framed and communicated. In their classical formation derived from literature, narratives can be understood as a spoken or literary presentation in which, “past events are selected and configured into a plot, which portrays them as a meaningful whole with a beginning, middle and end,” that exists within a specific sense of time.4 However, in the study of narrative within the context of social movements, narratives diverge from this classical definition. In social movements many narratives do not have an end in the sense of a final conclusive circumstance that culminates the

Joseph Davis, “Narrative and Social Movements: The Power of Stories” in Stories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements, (New York: SUNY Press, 2002), 11. 7


sequence of events in a plot. Many narratives within social movements, like some of those produced by ID, do however have an “end” in the sense that there is a vision of the future that the movement seeks to attain. The type of “end” in ID’s narratives does not necessarily show up at the end of the sequence of events in time, but is often represented within the body of the narrative by recurring references, examples and thematic motifs. Joseph Davis quoting Thomas Leitch writes, “Stories do not necessarily promise (although they may) that conflicts will be definitively resolved or the truth manifested once and for all; they promise only that something further will happen, or that there is something else to learn.”5 This type of “end” is more of a goal or an “end in mind”, than an immediate end and is legitimated by the moral arguments justifying the vision, methods, ideologies and general struggle of the social movement. Haripriya Rangan explains: Narratives derive their structure and form from their telos, a chosen end that does not reside in external nature, but is a moral choice constructed from within the material realm of social practices and asserted as an absolute truth. The telos is located in social actions, and these are what narratives ultimately aim to influence, to change or redirect in one way or another. Every narrative is an exercise in establishing a particular morality; and narrators often succeed (they are called charismatic or compelling when they do) when their narratives exercise a limited and limiting morality which renders most social and material practices, save their chosen few, as irrelevant, inauthentic, or illegitimate.”6 Within social movements, especially those involving indigenous people, narratives arise from and through processes of cultural and political change and exchange, and through experiences of success and failure. Most often the struggle to

5 6

Ibid, 13.

Haripiya Rangan, of myths and movements: Rewriting Chipko into Himalayan History, (India: Oxford University Press, 2000), 41. 8

reach the “end in mind” is a continuous struggle of resilience and adaptation such as in the case of the Dayak. Therefore the social and material practices that are considered relevant, authentic and legitimate within social movement narratives, are always culturally complex, even in the narratives themselves, often combing the traditional and the modern to create hybrid answers to complex political, economic, cultural and ecological problems. Joseph Davis in his book Stories of Change: Narratives and Social Movements explains: The analysis of narratives…overcomes key limitations in the framing perspective and illuminates core features of identity building and meaning making in social activism. It also sheds new light on movement emergence, internal dynamics and public persuasion and addresses cultural aspects of activism that get shrift in social movement research.”7 The most important feature of narratives is identity creation and meaning making. From the time before modernity, when mythos predominated human epistemology until the current stage of post-modernity, narratives have always been focused on understanding individual and collective identity in relationship to the world of the mind, as well as the geographical, cultural and material world. The creation and communication of narratives have been part of a universal process by which individual and collective identities are framed and formed, and reframed and reformed. As human beings we understand ourselves and how we “fit in” with the rest of existence, through narratives and storytelling. Narrative analysis clarifies that the “self” is not a static entity, but a result of continuous processes of definition and redefinition. Narratives often serve as ways in which multiple selves can be unified and placed into a harmonic balance. Joseph Davis, “Narratives and Social Movements: The Power of Stories” in Stories of Change: Narrative and Social Movements, 4.


As events and descriptions are put into a sequenced narrative form individual and collective identities are given life and meaning in the narratives, and are manifested in the material and animate world. This process of identity creation occurs through the development of the characters in the story. The development of a character in narratives is an essential element. I would even go so far as to say, that there a very few narratives without a developed character or characters. It is through the development of characters that narratives appeal to us, and provide us with emotional, moral and even physical resonance needed to understand them completely. Narratives play a crucial role in social movements that involve a people attempting to redefine themselves, such as in the case of the Dayak, or the Native Americans, whose identities and communities have been drastically altered, amalgamated, homogenized and most importantly demonized throughout history. In the process of redefining their own identities through continual cultural exchanges, new communities built on these new identities are often created through the use of narratives and story telling. These imagined communities become reified as communities, nations, and empires. In the process of re(framing) and (re)creating identities and communities narratives define history, and individual and collective memory, creating a new consciousness built on clearly articulated values. Social movement leaders of all kinds whether capitalist, communist, or indigenous, who are often from the more educated or elite social classes use narratives a means to solidify individual and collective identities for the sake of perpetuating and legitimizing their ideological or cultural goals. In narratives, the specific qualities and


disposition of a character in a story, often typifies and defines the identity of the ideal social movement participant in the context of their struggle. The power of narrative to influence the creation of individual and collective identities, and the formation of communities is a central theme of my narrative analysis of the Institute of Dayakology and its network. The narratives, both individually and collectively give rise to a Dayak “character” that is not static, but has some clearly defined characteristics. One of ID’s primary concerns is defining “Dayakness” in the face of constant change and pressure. ID are part of a larger Dayak effort called “The (Re)construction of the “Pan-Dayak Identity” seeking to create a solidified social movement community of Dayak power.8 An analysis of their narratives illuminates how “Dayakness” must be defined based on traditional indigenous values that emphasize the intimate relationship between the human being and the natural environment, but that these values must incorporate various characteristics that allow for processes of adaptation with modern scenarios and different value systems. Analyzing ID’s narratives gives us a sense of how the institutional members are framing Dayak identity and creating new communities. Due to ID‘s focus on the creation of Dayak identity and meaning making, the analysis of narrative seemed particularly fitting. The Institute of Dayakology, is an institution, an NGO (LSM) with its own hierarchy, power structure, and social organization, collective voice as well as individual voices. Narrative analysis illuminates how ID speaks to different audiences. It provides a sense of what controls ID places on its narratives. Being able to compare my fieldJu-Lang Thung, Yekti Maunati, Peter Mulok Kedit. The (Re)construction of the ‘Pan Dayak’ Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minorty’s Identity, Ethnicity and Nationality, (Jakarta: Pusat Penelitian Kemasyarakatan dan Kebudayaan, LIPI, 2004) 1. 11

experience with ID’s narratives has also illuminated the social stratification within the Dayak ethnic group as well as other cultural particularities, and personal ironies of ID’s members. It has given me insights as to how rural people feel about the way they are being presented by ID’s narratives. Narratives by their very nature essentialize and simplify as they attempt to create identities and meaning out of a complex world. According to Hariprya Rangan’s book about the Chipko social movement in India, narratives create a mythical world detached from history and material reality in their attempt to order the various elements of the mind or of life into a meaningful sequence. What Rangan’s exploration of narrative tells us is that the interplay between narrative reality and material reality is complex, and it often confusing, as to which one is creating the other. The question of what counts as a narrative and what doesn’t is a continual debate about the reality of narrative, the narrative nature of reality, and the nature of reality itself. In my opinion the source of reality is neither purely material nor purely narrative, but a complicated exchange between these interacting yet connected worlds. In many ways narratives reflect or mirror cultural complexity as much as they may tend to mythologize, essentialize or simplify it. Especially in the context of social movements engaged in the production of narrative as means of individual and collective identity creation and community formation, the interplay between narrative characterizations or definitions of identity, community or history, and material reality are very interesting. Narrative analysis reveals the various tensions, ironies and apparent contradictions as a result of the characterization of various cultural realities within narratives themselves.


This paper plays particular attention to the way the narratives of ID and its network (re)frames, (re)constructs, (re)creates, Dayak identity or “Dayakness” and the various tensions involved in such a task. It does this through an exploration of the apparent rhetorical contradictions involved in the process (re)framing the identity, and creating a community of an indigenous people, who are continually adapting to changing systems of identification and value. When analyzing narratives it is important to not raise them to a status they do not deserve. Narratives are an insightful way of analyzing social movements, but in order to understand them completely I had to compare them with my experiences with ID’s members and other social movement participants. Narrative is an important dimension of sociological analysis, but it must be coupled with fieldwork that includes and understanding of current political, social and cultural processes. Narrative analysis becomes most insightful when it can be compared with other theoretical insights and experiences. The recent surge in narrative studies has risen because people have begun to understand the power of narrative as a political and social tool. In fact the increased interest in narrative studies is partially a result of a movement that disagrees with the dominant scientific and Cartesian paradigm and its mechanistic and deterministic conception of the self and culture. The “mechanistic” and “deterministic” approach sees the self as a point enacted on by external forces, and culture as determined by simple models. In contrast narratives emphasize “the self-shaping quality of human thought…


the power of stories to create and refashion personal identity” and culture. 9 Narrative enthusiasts also attack “the social-scientific project of elaborating a body of authoritative knowledge, more or less on the order of that which prevails in the natural sciences.”10 The idea in claiming that there is “ a set of indisputable truths available to an abstractly conceived “subject” of knowledge” is inherently and historically oppressive, repressive and imperialistic and is linked to some of the worst cultural and ecological atrocities in history.11 An emphasis on narrative reaffirms and validates cultural diversity and the plurality of knowledge available on this multifaceted planet. In this sense narrative becomes a critique on dominant understandings of rationality, methodology, and human epistemology.12 In my opinion, narrative analysis provides a deep analysis, and allows for a revealing reconstruction and deconstruction of complex social phenomenon. As a political tool and a social agent, narratives offer opportunities for alternative forms of knowledge to engage with the discourses of “meta-narratives” created by political and economic authorities. In this way, narratives engage in theoretical and quantative elements, through their interactions with other narratives and become methods of critical political theorizing and forms of resistance, resilience and adaptation. As Joseph David observes, that narratives in social movements, “engage what Anthony

Lewis P. Hinchman and Sandra K Hinchman, introduction to Memory, Identity Community: The Idea of Narrative in the Human Sciences, ed. Lewis P. Hinchman, Sandra K. Hinchman (United States: SUNY Press, 1997), xiv.
10 11 12


Ibid., xiv. Ibid., xiv Ibid., xiv. 14

Giddens calls, “life politics”, a politics which concerns “issues which flow from processes of self-actualization in post-traditional contexts.”13 Narratives are very important for people, like the Dayak, who come from oral and interpretive cultures such and who have a history of understanding and experiencing themselves and the world through various types of story telling. Through the use of old and new techniques narratives bring the power of the past, to the power of the future. Currently Third World (if one can use such a term) development, and its discourses have taken a more cultural turn and are less defined by the Western standards of economic growth and conceptions of knowledge that they grew out of. Today’s social movements, especially indigenous social movements in the developing world, are often a reaction to development policies or development discourses that disregard traditional modes of knowledge, production, management of natural resources and cultural particularities, in favor of what they may call more “productive” methods. The Dayak suffered greatly under the regime of the authoritative dictator Suharto, when their traditional practices of slash and burn rice farming were considered less productive than wet rice techniques, and other forms of natural resource management that were less community oriented. However, just as there has been a cultural turn in development policies, opening up a space for new paradigms of development, Indonesia, since Suharto’s fall, has been experiencing a gradual process of political decentralization, opening space for previously marginalized communities to engage in processes of alternative development. NGOs (LSMs in Indonesia) are playing a large role in these processes. This provides an Joseph Davis, “Narratives and Social Movements: The Power of Stories” in Stories of Change: Narratives and Social Movements, 5. 15

opportunity for alternative development paradigms that are a mixture of traditional and modern conceptions to have a voice in local, national and international arenas, largely through the production and publication of various types of narratives. These narratives are directly tied to a network of institutions that facilitate the empowerment of the Dayak. They do so through various programs and projects that are a result of alternative paradigms of development combing traditional knowledge, like systems of natural resource management with modern economic cooperative systems, and modern media technologies. ID and its network have been leaders in devising alternative paradigms of development through processes of resilience and adaptation. The evolving narratives of ID have played a key role in the collective movement of masyarakat adat communities in Indonesia. Indeed the linkage of masyarakat adat communities and the global Indigenous Peoples movement is in itself and appropriation of a larger global narrative. ID’s narratives provide great examples of what Arturo Escobar calls, “postdevelopment narratives created in hybrid cultures.”14 Alternative paradigms of development that arise endogenously from particular cultural situations have become increasingly important to indigenous people struggling to keep their traditions alive while adapting to modernity. Arturo Escobar quoting Garci Canclini describes hybrid cultures as “cultural crossings” that “frequently involve a radical restructuring of the links between the traditional and the modern, the popular and the educated, the local and the foreign… what is modern explodes and gets combined with what is not, is affirmed and challenged at one and the same time.”15 In the narratives, Dayak identity and culture is

Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: the Making and Unmaking of the Third World. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), 220.



defined by a deep connection to a traditional cultural heritage grounded by an intimate relationship with the natural evironment. This sentiment is coupled with the ability to be resilient and adaptive in the modern world, as a means of creating a livable balance between two worlds. In our complex world, nothing is simple and apparent contradictions are more present than clarity. Cultural exchange has taken on increased visibility. In this context narratives also reveal aspects of cultural tension and adaptation that appear as rhetorical contradictions within the narratives themselves. In the cultural interface between the modern, the post-modern and the traditional, the Dayak are struggling to keep their traditional identities and cultures while adapting to their marginalized economic and political situation and removing culturally embedded stereotypes along the way. The “Dayakness” defined by ID becomes a picture of the past framed by the present for the sake of the future. As narratives create and inform identities in a changing world, people in the process of adaptation begin to take on seemingly contradictory qualities, both in the narratives and outside of them. These so-called contradictions are part of the process of cultural evolution in the globalized and post-modern age. Cultural hybridity should no longer be perceived as necessarily contradictory, only complex and continually changing. This opinion is derived from a post-structuralist understanding of culture. Culture and identity are not easily determinable concepts. They are part of a continually changing dialectical and dialogical landscape, a kaleidoscope of human, societal and non human interactions.


Ibid., 220. 17

Cultural Tension In Dayak History In order to understand my analysis of the narratives of the Institute of Dayakology and its networks a brief history of the term Dayak, and the Dayak people is essential. The Dayak can be generally categorized as the indigenous people of the island of Borneo. Borneo is divided into four different areas, Sarawak and Sabah, belong to Malaysia, the Islamic Republic of Brunei, and Kalimantan, the largest portion, which belongs to the Republic of Indonesia. The Dutch colonial authorities and Malay Islamic Sultanates under them had used Djakker, as a designation of savagery, backwardness and irrational superstition, a designation that post-colonial nations would adopt as well until the Dayak revival in the late 1990s.16 However, the etymological roots of the word Dayak may also be from the Kenyah (an indigenous sub-ethnic group of West Kalimantan) word daya meaning upriver, or interior, or aja a Malay term for native people.17 Once upon a time the indigenous people of Borneo had populated the interior and the coastlines, but most of the coastlines were taken over by foreign powers engaged in trade and colonial expansion, as a result many Dayak sub-ethnic groups were pushed further into the interior. For a long time the Dayak rejected this designation and refused to use the term, this rejection is what lead to the Dayak revival that ID belongs to. As Borneo became

The establishment of the Institute of Dayakology played a major role in the Dayak revival that entailed a redefinition of the word Dayak stripped of its pejorative connotations. Ju Lang Thung, Yekti Maunati and Peter Mulok Kedit, Reconstruction of the Pan-Dayak Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minority’s Identity Ethnicity and Nationality, 32. 18


populated by an increasing number of different ethnic groups and religions, the term Dayak, as opposed to Djakker became an ethnic distinction that differentiated them from other ethnic and religious groups such as the Malay (who were generally Muslim), or the Tionghwa (Chinese and often Buddhist or Confuscian or Daoist), or the Madurese who were also Muslim. Because of the inherent pluralism and complex ethnic interactions in Indonesia, both in Malaysia and Indonesia, disputes over what constitutes any of these ethnic groups are still debated, but there is still a distinction implied in the ambiguity. The question of what it is to be Dayak has been an on going question in the lives of the some 4,500 or more sub-ethnic groups that have been considered Dayak in some way or another. This question is reflected as contradictions in the narratives of the Institute of Dayakology. Certainly, the indigenous people of Borneo have had a shared history, (albeit to different extents) of being socially, culturally, politically and economically marginalized by different religions, commercial exploitation and production, economic and development related projects, and subject to the domination of ruling powers for centuries. To adopt Janis Alcorn’s term, the Dayak are an “ecosystem people” for whom natural resources not only provide systems of subsistence, but their customs, cosmological beliefs and laws.18 Most of the Dayak groups practice slash and burn, or swidden agriculture (although some practiced wet rice agriculture, or none at all) and hunting and gathering. As a subsistence agriculture society, the most important relationship is that between the people and their natural environment. Dayak livelihood, Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 1.


identity and cosmology continue to be reshaped by different systems of value and the Dayak are forced to adjust and adapt accordingly. Throughout history, various religious groups have threatened and altered their various animistic belief systems, known collectively as kaharingan. The Bornean region has been part of a long history of trading that introduced many religious influences. Since the 7th century until the arrival of the Islamic Sultanates, Hindu-Bhuddist Empires of Indonesia had a presence in Kalimantan through trade.19 Hindu interactions with the Dayak are a deep and complicated medley of historical, political linguistic and religious transformations. The influences of Hindu-Bhuddist and Indian culture can be seen clearly in Dayak animism and in systems of governance. However, it is believed that Hindus let the Dayaks lead their own lives in peace, never forcing them violently to become Hindus, nor attempting to dislodge their traditional, beliefs, practices or systems of governance. The first Muslims to arrive in Borneo were Malay, Arab and Indian traders, in the 12th century. The Dayak who converted to Islam became known as Malays and many of them lost their traditional Dayak identity, along with their animistic beleifs.20 However a large sum of Dayak refused to become Muslim partly because their main diet was wild boar, and the religion of Islam prohibits the consumption of pork. Some Muslims from Kalimantan will acknowledge their Dayak heritage, but most do not identify with it. The Islamic Sultanates who arrived in the 15th century were considerably worse towards the

Unpublished Dissertation, Larry Kenneth Johnson, The Effect of Dayak Worldview, Customs, Traditions and Customary Law (Adat-Istiadat) on the Intepretation of the Gospel in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, (2000), 28.


Ibid., 31. 20

Dayak than the Hindus. Under the Islamic Sultanates the Dayak had to pay taxes of boar, chickens and rice and were often forced to become slaves. Christianity arrived in Kalimantan in several waves (depending on the region) beginning in the 1890s as a result of Dutch conquests of Kalimantan. The first Christians to interact with the Dayak were Catholics (Roman Catholics and later Kapusins, branch of the Dutch Fransican Order), but Protestant Evangelist sects arrived in 1905 and began to push into the interior.21 The Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, still have a huge impact on Dayak identity. Both Christian sects acted differently to the Dayak. The Catholics were generally more lenient about the practice of certain pagan rituals (after a Christianization of them) than the Protestants, who forbade all other forms of worship. They both saw the Dayak as backward savages in need of a civilized ethical code and cosmology, a similar attitude to that of the Muslims. Christianity although it has continuously attempted to destroy and de-legitimize Dayak belief systems in favor of Christian hierarchies and ethics, has been very important to education among the Dayak. The Dayak social movement in West Kalimantan would not have begun had Christian educations systems not produced an educated class of Dayak teachers and priests. As well, Christianity has now become an important characteristic of identity for some Dayak. Indonesia only recognizes five religions, Catholicism and Protestantism are two of them. Indonesia is close to 85% Muslim. In this context, many Dayaks see themselves as being marginalized not only as animists, but also as Christians.

Ju Lang Thung, Yekti Maunati, Peter Mulok Kedit, The (Re)construction of the Pan Dayak Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minority’s Identity, Ethnicity and Nationality, 24. 21


The introduction of Hinduism, Islam and Christianity led to transformations and disruptions in conceptions of Dayak identity, but Christianity developed the most importance among the Dayak. The Christian churches (mostly Catholic) gained many converts, but their converts were not forced to give up their Dayak identity to the same extent as Muslim converts. However, many of the Dayaks who live in the interior are only nominally Christian and keep many of their animistic beleifs.22 The Dutch East India Company (Vereenighde Oost-Indische Compagnie) began the commercially minded natural resource extraction in the name of economic progress in competition with English and Portugese presences beginning in 1602. After going bankrupt the VOC was taken over by the Dutch government and through various alliances established their influence in Kalimantan.23 The Dutch continued the natural resource extraction begun by the VOC in opposition to the subsistence methods of natural resource management held by the Dayak. This strategy became reflected in national development policies that severely altered the ecosystems of the Dayak through (illegal, according to customary law) strategies of large-scale natural resource exploitation for the development of economic capital. The Dutch had a policy that when they annexed an area they would allow the preexisting systems of governance to continue until new rulers replaced them. When conflict between the old and new systems began to compete, the Dutch had a policy of destroying the pre-existing systems of governance by eliminating their power over people and

Larry Kenneth Johnson, The Effect of Dayak Worldview, Customs, Traditions and Customary Law (Adat-Istiadat) on the Interpretation of the Gospel in West Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo, (2000), 27.


Ibid., 28. 22

natural resources. During World War II, the competing Dutch and Japanese colonial powers contributed to the disruption of their lifestyles as they added increasing political control over the Dayak. The Japanese systematically killed Dayak social leaders and other important community figures. However during the short Japanese invasion a group of West Kalimantan Dayak fought against the Japanese without any other military forces and created the independent polity called Madjang Desa, complete with its own King and system of rule. Majang Desa’s leader agreed that it was politically beneficial that they join the state of Indonesia in 1947, after its independence from the Dutch.24 After WWW II from 1945 to 1960 the attempts by Sukarno to create an independent state of Indonesia worsened and disrupted their lives further as they were forced to join another alien political and economic authority. The political lives of the Dayak became more recognized at this time, however Sukarno held the same orientation towards land acquisition that did not recognize Dayak customary laws (hukum adat in Indonesian). When elites from Java took over the colonial apparatus and wrote the Constitution in 1945 this policy was adopted into an Indonesian context. The Constitution therefore recognizes adat institutions and practices only if they do not interfere with development. The strategy of large-scale exploitation of natural resources for the sake economic development was implemented in a fierce and uncompromising way during the New Order regime of the dictator Suharto. The New Order regime was based on a form of kleptocracy in which the dictator handed out pieces of masyarakat adat land within the resource rich archipelago of Indonesia to his political and military cronies with belief that

Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 38. 23


private industries linked to the government would strengthen the economy.25 The Indonesian elite, a predominantly Javanese group, were the people who had access to natural resources that belonged to the Dayak. The values of the elite directly affect land use decisions but are the basis for the development policies. Suharto’s New Order regime was based on giving out land, that he deemed suitable for development purposes. Suharto continued with the Dutch colonial policy that masyarakat adat groups only had rights if they did not conflict with development policies. This, in addition to the corruption already inherent in the Indonesian governmental system, left the masyarakat adat with very few rights to land they had traditionally farmed and by their own customary laws legally owned. He also continued a project started by Dutch colonials called the Trasmigrasi, in which people from the “inner islands” of Java and Madura, among others, were transported to the resource rich “outer islands” such as Kalimantan and Irian Jaya to work in various timber concessions, mining sights, oil palm plantations and other development projects that extracted Kalimantan’s natural resources for commercial production of raw materials. The Transmigrasi severely complicated land rights issues, as sacred land was taken from the Dayak and given to companies and foreign workers of different ethnic groups. In the hopes that they would create a better and more equitable economy, The World Bank and other large development banks like the Asian Development Bank and the IMF, supported these neo-colonial policies. They did in fact boost the economy temporarily, through oil exports, but in the process these policies marginalized the Dayak.


The Dayak were coerced into giving up their land, as chiefs were often offered positions of power. They were also offered the benefits of development, such as schools, hospitals, roads, electricity, and water supplies, in exchange for what were once their rice fields. In some occasions there was very little discussion and land was taken by military force. Many rural Dayak did not enjoy the benefits of development, and simply had their land taken away from them. The institutions that were given to the Dayak in exchange for their lands belonged to the same development system and had little interest in placing Dayak culture in the school curriculums, or using Dayak rituals to heal people in hospitals. The Dayak were taught to sacrifice their traditions, their identity and their land for the sake of modernity and development just as they were taught to sacrifice their religious identity and livelihoods for the sake of civilization. The government sought to completely destroy swidden agriculture and replace it with settled agriculture. During this process the neo-colonial government forced the Dayak to leave their sacred land and resettle elsewhere so that resource-rich patches of forest could be utilized for mono-crop plantations of oil-palm, and for wet-rice agriculture, for increased production and economic development. Suharto’s New Order Regime marginalized the Dayak by perpetuation of stereotypes representing the Dayak as “backwards” and “uncivilized” “headhunters” that began with the arrival of the Dutch. These stereotypes legitimized development for the sake of “civilizing” an “uncivilized” people. The development discourses used the rhetoric of national unity as a means to pursue economic goals, but ironically national unity was based on Javanese ideals.


Suharto was forced from power in 1998 ushering in a new era based on political decentralization, which made the country vulnerable to social movements and sectarian problems. The Dayak struggle became increasingly active in the political decentralization processes in Indonesia since the fall and resignation of the dictator Suharto. After the dictator fell, a democracy was established and issues of legal pluralism and political autonomy were brought to the surface. Indonesia’s motto Binneka Ika Tunggal, or “Unity in Diversity” was slowly turning from a Javanese idiom into a pluralistic reality. The Dayak were furthered stigmatized by violent interethnic conflicts with the Madurese in West Kalimantan in 1996, 1999 and Central Kalimantan in 2001. These clashes brought various violent elements of Dayak culture such as headhunting to viewers all over the world. However, the Institute of Dayakology eliminated these stigmatisms through a (re)framing, (re)definition and (re)construction of Dayak identity, and the creation of a solidified community of Dayak power.

History Of The Institute Of Dayakology The analysis of the narratives produced by ID and its network must begins with a summary of the history of the social movement they belong to. This history is derived directly from several of ID’s narratives, an article by John Bamba, grant proposals written by Stephanus Djuweng, as well as a book called The (Re)construction of the PanDayak Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minority’s Identity, Ethnicity and Nationality. The (re)framing, (re)defintion and (re)construction of the Dayak identity is rooted in the history of ID and its network of Dayak run institutions. The Institute of Dayakology was born of the Pancur Kasih (Fountains of Care)


foundation, the mother of the Dayak social movement in West Kalimantan. Started in 1981 by a group of classically Christian educated Dayak school teachers (trained mostly at the University of Tanjung Pura, and seminary school), Pancur Kasih was established on the basis that Dayak empowerment depended on better organization, political mobilization and a strong cultural base.26 These classically educated Dayak perceived the the Dayak people as a whole, as being largely politically uneducated, disempowered, politically disorganized, but having the potential and knowledge to change this predicament. As Dayak with a higher level of social positioning, these teachers thought they could create a Dayak revival that would empower the Dayak people and deliver them from the margins of society. Pancur Kasih emphasized, the “spirit of solidarity”, “self-reliance” and the need for critical awareness among the Dayak.27 These three values became central to the (re)framing of Dayak identity. PK began to set up schools that encouraged critical awareness among the Dayak. Eventually they started a Credit Union, the Pancur Kasih Credit Union, with easily accessible credit with low interest in 1987. This added an economic dimension to the empowerment of the Dayak people. However John Bamba (the head of ID) clarifies that: The core of CU movement is not managing money, but an education process that aimed at mental and attitude change. It is an education process the leads to strong spirit of solidarity and togetherness among its members in solving their financial problems. The key word is EDUCATION and the motto is that CU started, developed and controlled

John Bamba, “The Contribution of Institutional Resilience to Ecological Resilience in Kalimantan, Indonesia: A Cultural Perspective. (Personal Copy: Date Unknown), 25. A similar version of this article is featured in Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program).


Ibid., 26 27

depending on EDUCATION.”28 Still, the credit unions became a central economic force for empowering the Dayak people. In 1992, 200 credit union members began BPR-PAN BANK (Bank Perkreditan Rakyat Pancur Banua Katulistiwa) to provide small business loans to rural people and to empower people’s economic livelihood and encourage self-reliance. During the formation of this bank in the late 1980s, a discussion group was established to address critical political and developmental issues, as well as other social, cultural, economic and spiritual issues, facing the Dayak. During the 1980s, the Dayak experienced severe political and cultural marginalization due to the dictator Suharto’s oppressive governmental and developmental policies. The group became highly important due to the tension created between the rural Dayak and oppressive government development programs during the New Order regime that threatened their lives, their livelihood and their land. In 1991, the discussion group was formalized and the Institute of Dayakology Research and Development (IDRD) was established and was later assisted with loans from BPR-PAN BANK. Because IDRD dealt with a wide range of issue many of which were extremely critical of the Suharto regime, IDRD joined the less politically oriented LP3S (Lembaga Pelatihan Dan Penunjanug Pembangunan Sosial), or Institute for Training and Supporting Social Development. Although IDRD functioned independently it was technically attached to an organization that was not politically oriented or blatantly critical of governmental policy.29 Over time IDRD became Institute Dayakology (ID) and

28 29

Ibid., 27 Ibid., 27. 28

began to develop its own character, slowly becoming the nexus of the Dayak struggle in West Kalimantan., If Pancur Kasih, moving with great force and enegery is the mother of the Dayak social movement, then Institute of Dayakology is the brainchild of that impetuous mother The Institute of Dayakology gave birth to several other organizations that functioned independently but were part of the Pancur Kasih family. Shortly after the establishment of ID, several other institutions were born in order to deepen the ability to address all aspects of Dayak life that had been affected. LBBT, (Lembaga Bela Banua Talino) was established to revitalize the customary law systems of Dayak people and to empower the people through paralegal training and community organization. PPSDAK (Pemberdayaan Pengelolaan Sumber Daya Alam Kerakyatan) and PPSHK (Program Pemberdayaan Sistem Hutan Kerakyatan) were established to advocate indigenous systems of natural resource management and rights over the management of their original territory.30 PPSDAK was responsible for the establishment of a community re-mapping program that documents Dayak land and resource use based on indigenous knowledge. There are several other organizations that are part of ID’s internal network. Many umbrella terms are used to emphasize that the multitude of projects supported by the network are part of the same movement. A SEGARAK (Serikat Gerakan Pemberdayaan Masyarakat Adat Dayak), The Union of the Movement for the Empowerment of Dayak Peoples is an organization that deals with funding, facilitation, and planning for all of the internal networks. It focuses primarly on economic strategies and logistics. One of the most important children of Pancur Kasih was Kooperasi Pancur Dangeri, also called


Ibid., 27, 28. 29

Pancur Danger Rubber Cooperative, a cooperative started by Stephanus Djuweng the Executive Director of SEGARAK. Pancur Danger was a cooperative for Dayak rubber farmers. established in 1994 in order to improve the economic standards of the Dayak while retaining its harmonious relationship with nature, and its organic and sustainable methods of natural resource management. Kooperasi Pancur Dangeri also opened a line of Dayak owned grocery stores that managed rubber transactions and sold house hold commodities at affordable prices. All of the organizations, programs, community projects and cooperatives of the internal networks are part of the Kooperasi Persekutuan Dayak, the United Dayak Cooperative. According the Djuweng, Kooperasi Persekutuan Dayak was a strategic change of the acronym KPD (that initially stood for Kooperasi Pancur Dangeri), in order to strengthen the emphasis on Dayak solidarity.31

Mediums And Messages ID is a research institution aimed at restoration, revitalization, restitution and advocacy of Dayak culture and identity. ID is also engaged in a (re)framing, (re)definition and (re)construction of Dayak identity, largely through the publication and dissemination of various narratives. ID’s projects, programs and narratives are grounded in a vision and mission held by all of the organizations in the internal networks.32 According to their website, The vision is: Indigenous Peoples, The Dayak Indigenous Peoples iparticular, are able to

Stephanus Djuweng, “Pancur Dangeri Grant Proposal to the Danish Government (Personal Copy).” See Figure 1 for a full list of the networked organizations. The last column is a list of national level LSMs that that cooperate with the network. 30


determine and manage their social, cultural, economic and political lives, towards self reliance in togetherness in the spirit of love to struggle for their dignity and sovereignty.”33 And the mission, “To struggle for freedom from dominant culture, social and economy through critical participatory research, advocacy and facilitation in order to encourage the growth of critical culture.”34 The Institute of Dayakology produces various types of narratives for various audiences, but they are all grounded in the same vision and mission and emphasize the core values of solidarity, self-reliance and education through critical culture with an underlying emphasis on their intimacy with the natural environment. ID’s narratives are framed to appeal to all types of Dayak people, the rural Dayak, the classically educated LSM members and the elite Dayak. Their narratives are also framed to appeal to those interested in interethnic solidarity in Kalimantan and Indonesia, larger social movement networks concerning indigenous people on both national and international levels (for example NGOs and LSMs), as well as academics and cultural tourists interested in Dayak culture and social movements. In order to share information about the Dayak while encouraging critical culture, ID uses a progressive form of anthropological research called Participatory Action Research. This type of research is common in grassroots social movements as its emphasis on developing critical analysis is often used as a tool for social and political mobilization. Participatory Action Research is a type of anthropology that, “involves all relevant parties in actively examining together current action (which they experience as

33 34

Brochure published by The Institute of Dayakology (Personal Copy) Brochure published by The Institute of Dayakology (Personal Copy) 31

problematic) in order to change and improve it. They do this by critically reflecting on the historical, political, cultural, economic, geographical and other contexts that makes sense of it.” 35 This type of anthropology involves what is often called the “subject” in

the anthropological process, as well as in a larger social process of empowerment through critical awareness. This method ensures the participation of whatever group or person is being documented, in a larger social movement, giving them a sense of solidarity as well as fostering a sense of self-reliance, and providing them with a critical edge. It makes them a radical actor in a social movement that intends to be educated and critical about the state of the world and, in particular, of the Dayak situation. In this context, the Dayak can come to understand the process behind the destruction and permutation of their cultural heritage and identity, giving them a chance to redefine their identify for themselves while maintaining their “Dayakness”.
Thus, the Institute of Dayakology upholds an understanding of “Dayakness” that is like a tree, clinging to its roots in nature but branching out and gaining strength and power in order to position itself in a forest of converging values. By producing these various forms of media, ID engages with the stories of Dayak who have either suffered or triumphed, and have in the process provided an example of the importance of Dayak identity and culture, and the legitimization of its continuance. The narratives, apart from emphasizing solidarity, self-reliance and education through critical culture, also emphasize the cultural and ecological resilience and the adaptation the Dayak have shown throughout history. The narratives often provide alternative paradigms of development based on a mixture of traditional and modern knowledge. Yoland Wadsworth, (1998) “What is Participatory Action Research?,” Action Research International , 32

Traditional oral narratives in the form of stories and myths that were central to the Dayak kaharingan, or belief systems, are translated into the narratives of the social movement for the purpose of creating a dialogue between converging realities and conceptions of identity. As I will explain later, these converging realities and conceptions of identity appear as rhetorical contradictions in many narratives. Their most effective and important tool for documentation, education and advocacy is the Kalimantan Review (KR), a monthly magazine that “aims at disseminating the wisdom of indigenous Dayak people and the information on problems they are facing; providing a forum for mutual learning and empowerment, encouraging the growth of critical culture; and promoting social reconciliation in Kalimantan.”36 The Kalimantan Review is published in both English and Indonesian and includes various descriptions in local dialects. The Kalimantan Review is a major source of Dayak narratives and continues to tell individual and collective Dayak stories to various audiences. The Kalimantan Review has a special section called Swara Burung or “Voice of the Hornbill”, which features articles about Dayak professions and traditional knowledge, with titles such as “Labour Farmer.”37 The Kalimantan Review is available at ID’s website, where the Kalimantan Review and various books are available through a subscription or by direct purchase. The websites acts as a narrative hub, where various other publications from the organizations within the network can be accessed. It contains a collective story of the Dayak people, available to the world wide web community.

36 37

Brochure published by The Institute of Dayakology (Personal Copy). Kalimantan Review English Edition Volume VII/June 2002. 33

Within West Kalimantan, the Kalimantan Review is delivered to both urban and rural Dayak environments and is meant for all literate audiences. KR is also available in credit unions, and in Dayak run grocery stores through out West Kalimantan. Projects, programs, and facilitations always exhibit copies of the Kalimantan Review to give to Dayak participants. This way the narratives are not just for elite actors, or educated LSM members, they are a source for all the Dayak people. As a research institution ID produces individual and collective Dayak stories through various mediums. These include books, DVDs, VCDs, videos, audiotapes, Dayak run radio shows and books in local dialects, Indonesian and English languages These productions feature rituals, oral stories, and particular responses to the life threatening destruction and marginalization of the diverse Dayak-sub-ethnic groups of West Kalimantan. Their narratives also feature stories of resilience, success, protest, empowerment and community activism that have occurred as a result of various programs and projects sponsored by the internal network, as well as stories of self motivated Dayak people and communities working to save their lives, land and culture. To appeal to more academic audiences, ID has also published several volumes of the Journal of Dayakology including academic explanations of Dayak issues, and various academic books. Other important narrative sources include various grant proposals and project descriptions that, although not published for the public eye, are visible to a very important audience of national and international grant givers and donors, and play a very important role in telling, and selling the Dayak story.


ID also publishes and presents articles in local and foreign journals, newspapers, magazines and e-zines. They are often featured during presentations, and forums for indigenous rights hosted by local, national and international LSMs and NGOs. ID also have a library and a book shop filled called Budaya Kritis, (Critical Culture in English) with educational books to keep the Dayak informed and educated about all of these things. All of the various narratives are available from the shop, and the newest KR release is readily available. The books featured in the shop include those published by members of the internal network, as well as translations, both English and Indonesian of important political theorists, economic thinkers and revolutionaries. The shop also hosts a variety of merchandise such as bags, T-shirts, and belts that advertise the Pancur Dangeri Cooperative saying, “Hanya KPD!”, or “Only KPD!” All of these different commodities assist in creating and perpetuating the Dayak story, they are all types of narrative communication. Both the website and the shop act not only as narrative hubs, but as outlets for the selling of the Dayak social movement. Although monetary profit is not the central aim of the movement, economic empowerment is central, and selling the Dayak story becomes a means by which it is achieved. Advocacy and empowerment strategies that promote education through critical awareness, solidarity and self-reliance are also organized through ID’s collaboration with a network of internal and external institutions.38 ID is part of various other larger networks on both national and international scales. Through these social movement networks, ID can carry its narratives that tell the Dayak story, and perpetuate Dayak identity


as well as expand the social movement into the stories of other “eco-system” groups facing similar problems. These networks provide a space where Dayaks can relate to other indigenous groups, or masyarakat adat dealing with similar issues on national and international levels. ID’s connection to larger networks goes back to their vision and mission.39 The networks of ID are part of a highly sophisticated network that has addressed all the different facets of Dayak life, culture and identity as part of (re)framing, (re)defintion, and (re)construction of Dayak identity. As opposed to simply creating one organization dedicated to Dayak cultural heritage, there are separate institutional units that can respond to the complex issues facing the Dayak. It is an incredibly progressive, forward thinking idea that shows their intent is not necessarily to freeze Dayak culture but to adapt it. The institutions create the power to continue the creation and recreation of Dayak identity, responding to the changing political, cultural, and ecological landscape by combining a strong sense of idealism coupled with the power of practical implementation. These two things, I believe are, the signs of an efficient social movement.


Brochure Published by The Institute of Dayakology (Personal Copy). 36

An Analysis Of The Narratives Of ID And Its Network

An analysis of the narratives of ID and its network reveals the complexity of the Dayak situation, as they stand in between traditional, modern and post modern worlds. Through the use of narrative, ID and its network are (re)framing, (re)defining and (re)constructing Dayak identity. As part of this process the Dayak are changing negative stereotypes and creating legitimacy and power. They are reviving Dayak identity by propounding an inherent culture built on positive and appealing values and qualities. These qualities include critical awareness, self-reliance, solidarity, resilience, adaptation and a deep intimacy with the natural environment. New values and qualities create a new community of Dayaks that transcends geographical boundaries and unites them in a common social movement while connecting them to other people. ID and its network are also challenging historical oppression and dominant society’s development paradigms, as a means to regain their dignity and sovereignty while having to adapt to the inevitable realities of modernity. In the process of (re)framing, (re)definition and (re)construction, the narratives reveal internal inconsistencies that can create contradictory messages about Dayak identity, on collective and individual levels, and perpetuate new and often romanticized stereotypes. The layers of narrative extend these transformations from the local to the national and international realm where they are appropriated into larger narratives.


The Revival Of Dayak Identity The (re)framing (re)definition and (re)construction of Dayak identity in West Kalimantan began with the creation of the Pancur Kasih Foundation, and the birth of the Institute of Dayakology and its internal network of Dayak run organizations. Ju-Lang Thung writes, “For the Dayak of Kalimantan, the establishment of the Institute or Dayakology in the mid 1970s represented the revival of the Dayak identity that for so long -- due to the historical marginalization and embarrassment of the Dutch colonial period -- had been denied by the Dayak themselves.”40 The concept of the revival of Dayak identity by ID, and the consequent (re)framing, (re)definition, and (re)construction of it, is based on eliminating the negative characteristics associated with Dayak identity and culture, and replacing them with positive characteristics. This process is largely a reaction to the historical stigmatisms characterizing the Dayak as “primitive”, “backwards” and “savage” headhunters who are brought easily to violence, incite interethnic tension, and practice an “unproductive” form of agriculture. ID’s (re)framing of Dayak identity is also part of the process of delivering them from a position of disempowerment. As Ju-Lang Thung puts it in an explanation of the Dayak revival: The Dayak realized the process of subordination by the so-called “outsiders” was partly supported by their own powerless situation. Therefore in an effort to change their unfavorable position, empowerment becomes the key word which is used to create a “New Dayak”, a Dayak who could stand up to others if necessary and who is able to sit and speak with non Dayak if necessary. 41

40 41

Ibid., 2. Ibid., 4. 38

These negative stereotypes are linked to the continual oppression and marginalization practiced by both the colonial and national governments. Ju-Lang Thung has positioned the Institute of Dayakology within the larger (re)construction of the PanDayak identity that seeks to redefine perceived characteristics of Dayak identity.42 The process of (re)constructing and (re)framing of the Dayak identity requires a change in the perception of the ethnic, local, national and international population as well as the Dayak themselves.. As Ju Lang Thung says, “Today we are witnessing the emergence of the socalled Pan-Dayak movement involving not only the Dayak in Kalimantan-Indonesia, but also those in Sarawak-Malaysia…”43The (re)construction of the Pan-Dayak identity is a new term that evolved as result of various violent interethnic clashes between the Dayak and the Madurese in 1996, 1999, and 2001 that reproduced negative stereotypes of Dayak identity because some of the attacks were started by them. The emergence of the PanDayak identity is part of an evolving new community of Dayak power, that is being woven together by a (re)framing, (re)defining and (re)construction of Dayak identity. In many articles John Bamba, the head of ID, provides a description of what it means to be a Dayak that is based on their intimacy with the natural environment as an “eco-system’” people. In one article John Bamba is quoted as saying: Nature, the soil, rivers and the forest are perceived by the Dayak as the “common” house where all beings are nurtured and protected…The Dayak would not think of treating it exploitatively as the soil is our body, the river is our blood and the forests are the breath of life. These three

42 43

Ibid., 1.

Ju-Lang Thung, Yekti Maunati, Peter Mulok Kedit, The (Re)construction of the Pan-Dayak Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minority’s Identity, Ethnicity and Nationality. Pusat Penelitian Kemasyarakatan dan Kebudayan, LIPI, 2004), 1. 39

elements gives us our identity as Dayak people, give shape to our culture and beliefs, and also provide us with our livelihoods.44 This is a basic description of Dayak identity tying the Dayak to their traditional cultural heritage and identity. Similar definitions, mentioning the importance of the Dayak relationship with nature, soil and rivers appears in many of ID’s narratives. In the narratives, the various Dayak sub-ethnic groups are also are unified by their common intimacy with the land, their common state of marginalization and share a common struggle to regain the dignity and sovereignty they once had. As a whole, the narratives emphasize the power of a mixture between traditional and modern knowledge in the creation of a new conception of “Dayakness” as a way of empowering all Dayak and reviving their identity. Judging from several readings and from my experience in various Dayak locations from kampung kota to kampung desa (city villages to rural villages) , staying purely “traditional” (whatever that may mean) is something neither possible nor a desired goal for most Dayaks. The destruction of Dayak life is given much attention in the narratives of ID and the Dayak are often described as a culture that has been “destroyed” or pushed to near “extinction”. However, in the new narrative, as a people, the Dayak are no longer defined as a stigmatized ethnic group. They are no longer identified with social, cultural, political, economic and religious “backwardness” deemed unproductive in thought and action. Nor are they considered disempowered. In the new narratives, the term Dayak is one of empowerment, as Dayak identity is defined by the characteristics of self-reliance,

Ita Natalia, “Protecting and Regaining Dayak Lands Through Community Mapping” in Janis B. Alcorn and Atoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 61. 40


solidarity and critical culture, resilience and adaptation, as well as other positive values. The narratives weave a new Dayak identity by introducing new values of empowerment and knowledge. However they also attempt to present these various qualities as inherent to Dayak culture, as a way of counter-acting the perception of disempowerment both for the Dayak, and for others. The narratives also stress the characteristics of justice, egalitarianism, democracy, gender equality, and non-violence as inherent Dayak qualities. This process becomes complicated because ID is forced to pick specific examples of these qualities form a diverse variety of Dayak societies, and present them as being more or less true of all Dayak people. It requires a form of cultural universalizing that creates new stereotypes in the place of old ones. The grant proposals of Stephanus Djuweng, from the office of SEGARAK, have a specific section where they indicate the values and characteristics central to the programs. For example, in this grant proposal to the Danish Government we see how explicitly ID emphasizes various characteristics and values.

2.3. Characteristics
Proactive, Strong and Reliable 2.4. Values of KPD 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Self-help Responsibility Democracy Justice Equality Solidarity Self-reliant45


ICCO Grant Proposal (Personal Copy) 41

In sum, the narratives of the Institute of Dayakology are framed to reflect a type of Dayak that is self-reliant and is capable of critically analyzing the social, cultural, political, economic and spiritual situations around him or her, while remaining connected to their traditional cultural heritage and identity defined by his or her intimacy with the natural environment. The emphasis on solidarity as a core value does not only refer to a bringing together of different Dayak sub-ethnic groups under a common struggle, but an attempt to create some sense of solidarity with other ethnic groups in Kalimantan, such as the Madurese. Thus, the “New Dayak” is characterized as showing solidarity with other ethnic groups as opposed to causing ethnic tensions. They also collaborate with the various organizations involved in the Pan-Dayak struggle in Sarawak and Sabah Malaysia to increase Dayak solidarity in Borneo. The Institute of Dayakology is a big player in a larger grassroots movement in Indonesia struggling for the rights of masyarakat adat all over the diverse archipelago. They have been responsible for the creation of various institutions, alliances and coalitions that are at the forefront of indigenous issues.

(Re)framing, (Re)construction and (Re)definition of Dayak Identity Although ID’s narratives are responsible for the redefinition of Dayak identity in a rhetorical and discursive sense, they are attached to a social movement that since its origins has provided an environment in which this (re)framing and (re)definition or Dayak identity can be (re)constructed and lived out and have practical manifestations. In this sense the social, political and ecological landscape in which this redefinition is lived


out becomes a narrative of its own, telling a story about the Dayak struggle. Through its various projects and programs, ID and its network create an environment where the Dayak can manifest and realize the characteristics that describe them in the narratives. The metaphor of a play works well here. The Dayak are actors placed on a stage where they can develop and empower their character. However the play and the characters in it have a director, the Institute of Dayakology and its network. As a director, ID and its network control the ways that Dayak identity is (re)framed, (re)defined, and (re)constructed, and the way the Dayak story is told. By controlling the narratives, and the practical implementation of projects and programs, they have a significant influence over the actions of these actors, and the flow of events. At the same time, as directors, ID must take special care in trying to tell the Dayak story to multiple audiences, and therefore have to account for differing perspectives, while creating a cohesive and universally believable drama.

Embedded Contradictions in Hybrid Realities Due to the complexity of trying to (re)frame, (re)defined and (re)construct Dayak identity, the narratives present various apparent contradictions and tensions within the rhetoric, as a result of conflicting qualities and values. These tensions and apparent contradictions reveal the complexity of the Dayak situation, on both the individual and the institutional level, as they try to adapt to modern scenarios while keeping true to their traditional cultural heritage. Processes of adaptation create interesting realities between the traditional and the modern, the new and the old. This is especially evident in ID’s narratives and rhetoric about the evils of “development” and the practical necessity of


adopting and adapting many elements of the development process. These hybrid realities exist on individual and institutional levels. In the process of adaptation these tensions reveal importance of narrative as a political tool and social agent in the process of adaptation. These embedded contradictions manifest themselves in almost all of the major narrative themes.

Destruction, Resilience And Adaptation ID’s narrative present Dayak identity and culture as being destroyed and even brought to near extinction. They present this destruction and near extinction as a result of the historical disempowerment of the Dayak that was caused by continual oppression and marginalization. As a result, a feeling of disempowerment became embedded in the Dayak consciousness. Regardless of whether the narratives are from ID, SEGARAK, LBBT, or PPDSAK, as part of the same network and social movement, they all share a similar vision and mission differing only in terms of their specific focus. All of the narratives emphasize how Dayak identity and culture have been destroyed, even to the point of near extinction. The contemporary Dayak situation has been defined by a history of political and economic marginalization that has attempted to destroy disregard and discriminate against their traditional methods of agricultural livelihood (particularly slash and burn), their religious beliefs, their traditional systems of governance and their identities, resulting in tremendous changes and problems. ID’s website, which acts as a central connection to the other connected organizations, expresses this emphasis on destruction clearly. The website says in reference to the creation of Pancur Kasih, the mother of it all, “the background of this establishment came about from the reality that


the Dayak culture is in near destruction by the entering of various state development programs into the many aspects of Dayak’s life.”46 The Kalimantan Review features many articles on the destruction of Dayak identity, culture and land, especially on the replacement of sacred Dayak sites and graveyards with oil-palm plantations, and timber concessions. However, in their attempt to re(frame) Dayak identity ID’s narratives present a “New Dayak” that is resilient and adaptive. Resilience implies the ability to spring back after being changed or destroyed, and adaptation implies being able to change with the times without sacrificing traditional values through assimilation. While ID’s narratives pay attention to the near destruction of Dayak culture and identity, they also emphasize the institutional, cultural and ecological resilience, and adaptation exhibited by the Dayak throughout their history. The institutional, cultural and ecological resilience and adaptation of the Institute of Dayakology and of the Dayak, displayed in the narratives have been used by other NGOs that are part of the vast network of social change in Indonesia and the world as lessons in resilience. Institutional, cultural and ecological resilience are tightly connected to sustainable development, and ID narratives have helped define an alternative development model that builds this adaptive capacity to respond to change. Every action, protest or demonstration of resilience or adaptation by the various Dayak sub-ethnic groups, is presented in a way that it speaks for all of the Dayak. And as the institutional, cultural and ecological resilience of the Dayak are presented as lessons in the international arena either by the Institute of Dayakology they begin to speak for Institut Dayakologi, “Institut Dayakologi: History,” 45

indigenous people as a whole. In this way ID’s narratives are iterative and cumulative in their world view. The narratives of Institute of Dayakology have been featured in various discussion papers, journals, and articles by national and international NGOs. Masyarakat adat groups like the Dayak have customary systems of governance, and natural resource management that protect and govern both people and the natural environment they are part of. Being tropical forest people who have traditionally relied on agriculture, Dayak systems of governance are directly tied to their management of natural resources. Through it’s narratives, these traditional systems of governance, and natural resource management are promoted as alternatives to ecological and cultural degradation. However international and national forces interested in pursuing their own economic, political and cultural needs threaten the existence of these traditional systems. Therefore local and national LSMs and NGOs, such as ID and its networks, are needed to facilitate the revitalization and restoration of traditional practices and cultivate resilience and adaptation by cooperating with and empowering the people. LSM’s and NGOs play an important role because they provide the means through which resilience and adaptation can be sustained. Resilience is sustained not only through community organization and solidarity but through policy change on local and national levels. The story of how the Dayak are responding provides a counter narrative to the dominant development models.

Internal Romanticism The (re)framing of the Dayak identity was largely a reaction to the negative stereotypes associated with the word Dayak and the cultural practices it reflected. Many


of these stereotypes were based on violent practices such as head hunting that were part of the culture of various Dayak sub-ethnic groups. In (re)framing Dayak identity within their narratives through a communication of positive Dayak values, ID ends up counterstereotyping the Dayak. In the process of rejecting the negative classifications of the Dayak as “savage”, “uncivilized”, “headhunters” they internally romanticize Dayak identity and culture. John Bamba’s quote, “the soil is our body, the rivers are our blood, and the forest is the breath of life,” is a good example of this.47 This internal romanticization of Dayak indentity can lead to new stereotypes and a presumption of innocence which absolves Dayaks of wrongdoing. In other words this romanticized persona can be used to claim that no Dayak could ever be responsible for environmental destruction, which is clearly not the case. On the other hand, this internal romanticization of identity can be used as a tool of adaptation and empowerment. I witnessed first hand the adoption of various stereotypes as a means of invoking a feeling of power and dominance. During my stay in Pontianak, West Kalimantan. I was brought to the police station and interrogated for several reasons. Firstly, I was the only bule (white foreigner) at a Dayak protest in front of the court building. Secondly my host father, Stephanus Djuweng had not reported my presence to the police, as he should have according to the law. The police claimed my presence at the protest was not in line with my Social/Cultural Visa and that I could not do “penelitian”, research without a letter from LIPI the government sponsored research program. Djuweng’s failure to report me also Ita Natalia, “Protecting and Regaining Dayak Lands Through Community Mapping” in Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 61 47

intrigued them. The police saw ID as a threat to their bureaucracy, and did not have the best relationship with them. The policeman began issuing threats of deportation. During my discussion with a police bureaucrat, Djuweng, who was by my side, used various cultural stereotypes to scare the policeman. The policeman a Javanese Muslim, associated the Dayak with ilmu hitam, a type of black magic that was very powerful and destructive, among other violent and dangerous qualities. Various stories about the invincibility of Dayak warriors circulated during inter-ethnic tensions between the Dayak and the Madurese, reinforcing a mythic reputation that had persisted for centuries. Knowing that the policeman was prone to this kind of stereotyping, , Djuweng glared into the eyes of the police and held out his left hand. “Do you see this ring?” he said in a direct manner, “This ring contains the spiritual magic of a Dayak shaman, I have shamanic powers. This ring has Dayak power.” The policeman stared into the ring, and shook slightly, acknowledging its power. “I see the magic in the ring, it is very powerful,” he said. “The Dayak are very powerful.” This interaction becomes more interesting as it is embedded in additional layers of cultural complexity. It was never clear to me if Djuweng, even as a Dayak, actually believed in the magical powers of the ring. However Djuweng co-opted the Javanese policeman’s stereotype of the Dayak as magical and dangerous as a method of empowerment and adaptation. Djuweng may have been internally romanticizing his own culture, but it gave him power and strength. Djuweng used Dayak power as a way of threatening the political authority. He successfully turned the power dynamic around, placing the spiritual magic of shamanic Dayak power over the political power of the Javanese bureaucrat. To me whether or not the magic is “real” or not is much less


important than the fact that it had an effective power over the policeman and that it was used as tool of empowerment and adaptation.

Anti-Development Versus Sustainable Development Janis Alcorn mentions accurately that, “Today, Dayak face two problems typical of tropical forest people around the world where indigenous peoples are struggling to adapt to new technologies and need while staving off invaders, international investors, or national governments that claim their resources.”48 The tension s are evident in the narratives of the Institute of Dayakology. In the social context the Institute of Dayakology advocates a for type of Dayak that is involved in a critical culture capable of understanding the social, political, economic and cultural processes that have threatened and altered their existence. This emphasis on critical culture is clearly evident in specific narratives. Most of the articles, papers and grant proposals written by the executives of the organizations in the internal network are explicit in terms of their criticisms of modernity and development,describing how these processes have created changes and problems for the Dayak. This tension shows itself in the form of apparent contradictions in which ID leaders are critical of modernity, technology and capitalism that they see as part of the larger force of “development”, while at the same time admitting the benefits that flow from this force. Applying a Dayak critique, ID is a proponent of a less harmful, more appropriate, form of “sustainable development,”, while continuing to engage in some more mainstream

Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 1. 49


forms of economic development (like credit unions). The anti-development rhetoric is part of a larger critique of capitalism, modernity and external influence in Kalimantan that recurs throughout various narratives. ID’s narratives commonly attribute the changes and problems in Dayak culture to several key influences: 1) the teaching and spreading of Indonesia’s five major religions, 2) the introduction of formal education, 3) the expansion of the capitalistic economic paradigm, 4) the influence of advanced (modern) technology and information media and 5) the enforcement of national laws and regulations. 49 These influences were imposed through the rhetoric and implementation of Suharto era policies. Ironically, in spite of this critique, the entrepreneurial spirit, or character of “self-reliance” is actually shared by both the capitalistic economic paradigm and the Dayak's own narratives. The result is that access to, and engagement in, private commerce, the use of advanced technology and information media have been empowering to the Dayak. In an interview with Inside Indonesia, Stephanus Djuweng the Executive Secretary of SEGARAK, clarifies the opposition to mainstream development in response to a question about whom he blames for the loss of Dayak heritage?:

John Bamba, “The Contribution of Institutional Resilience to Ecological Resilience in Kalimantan, Indonesia: A Cultural Perspective. (Personal Copy: Date Unknown). A similar version of this article is featured in Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), and Stephanus Djuweng, ICCO, Grant Proposal (Personal Copy), CCFD Grant Proposal (Personal Copy), KPD Grant Proposal to Danish Government (Personal Copy). 50


Actually I don't blame only the Indonesian government. Because beyond the government there is a global dominant force: development. If you read Indonesian history, local resistance against land acquisition by those in power has been happening for hundreds of years. Diponegoro led a revolt against the Dutch when they were taking land to build along the northern coast of Java. The same thing is happening now in Kalimantan and in Irian. Local people are protesting against land acquisition, carried out in the name of development. So I ask myself, what is really the difference between colonialism and development? It's only that the first was done by a colonial government, the second by our so- called independent government. And that's not a significant difference.”50 One the one hand, ID’s narratives take an ecological standpoint toward issues of development, capitalism and modernity. They see these three forces as destructive elements that have resulted in changes, problems and destruction of the Dayak lifestyle. Djuweng understands that the “global dominant force” of development as an extension of colonialism. He views development as a thread that is tied to land acquisition not only within the context of Indonesian history and its blatant neo-colonial tactics, associated closely with the political limitations during the Suharto regaime, but as a larger global threat to the natural environment and to people who depend on the natural environment for physical, mental and spiritual sustenance. The connection between development, marginalization and natural resource extraction were part of a continuous process that conceptualized the Dayak as a “primitive and “backwards” people in need of civilization and modernity. Development was understood as a system to civilize and modernize the “backward” Dayak whose predominantly nomadic styles of farming (swidden agriculture,) rice in particular, needed to be replaced by a more productive settled wet rice cultivation that had greater

Inside Indonesia, “Stephanus Djuweng: Development is an extension of colonialism,” 51


potential to link up with national, international and other markets than the swidden variety. In the process of clearing land for settled farming, Dayak were continuously resettled, marginalized and pushed into the interior to different places in order to eventually eradicate swidden agriculture as a means of production. Scholars such as Robert Rice have claimed that that the “New Order Government’s economic ideology to control land and natural resources was the ideology of both Sukarno and the Netherland East Indies Governments.”51 In one of his grant proposals to the Danish government requesting more funds for the Pancur Dangeri Rubber Cooperative, Stephanus Djuweng explains the cons of a development ideology based on control of land and natural resource extraction: The current socio-economic and cultural change paradigm that is well known as development—that is based on economic growth and modernization—has been a serious threat to ecological, socio-economic and cultural wealth of Kalimantan/Borneo. The rich biodiversities and wild species in the kingdom of the eldest rainforest in the world has been the subject of continues exploitation by both multinational and trans national companies. In West Kalimantan alone, there have been operating 110 logging concessionaries since seventies. Uncontrolled exploitation on natural resources and environment is not only done by logging concessionaries, but also by palm-oil plantation, mining, transmigration and industrial tree plantation projects.52 Djuweng’s anti-development rhetoric stem from ID’s general emphasis on the fact that “development” as they see it does not recognize indigenous forms of natural resource management as a productive economic systems, nor does it recognize Dayak culture as a productive force. This passage from Djuweng eloquently lays out the Dayak critique of Ju-Lang Thung, Reconstruction of the Pan Dayak Identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A Study on Minority’s Identity, Ethnicity and Nationality, 20. Stephanus Djuweng, Pancur Dangeri Rubber Cooperative Grant Proposal to Danish Government (Personal Copy) 52
52 51

development. It is important to hear the narratives directly to illustrate the depth of feeling and analyses that is embedded within it because it provides a clear picture of their rhetoric. According to Djuweng: the government, functioning in the name of capital, occupy the Dayak farmlands and cut down their economic resources such as rubber, coffee and fruit tree plantations. The ecological ways of managing and extracting natural resources that are practiced by the Dayaks is not favoured in the eyes of government. The government officials argue that such an indigenous practices are economically unproductive… The influence of advanced technology and information media, which came hand in hand with the dominant capitalistic paradigm of increased production and economic development priorities, has also created changes and problems for the Dayak. Logging and industrial tree plantation projects are using sophisticated technological tools to exploit natural resources. This is something incomparable to the indigenous ways of extracting natural resources, which are completely organic. The advance of information media, the television and radio broadcasting in particular have been poisoning the thinking of young Dayak generations, much like the influence of television in the West.53 Notice that in this passage Djuweng applied quotes to the words “development projects” to question the type of development that is being enforced. His tone reveals a justified scepticism toward technology and information media . In the Inside Indonesia interview Djuweng argues that, “At present I don't think development can bring a prosperous and just society. There is no sustainable development, it's an absurd notion.” His statement that “sustainable development” is an absurd notion is an extension of his anti-development rhetoric. In fact, ID is engaged in promoting a range of sustainable development activities and actively use computers, the internet, radio and other information technologies. In a proposal to further Danish funding of the Pancur Dangeri rubber farmer’s cooperative Djuweng explains that, “this project is also to prove that the

Stephanus Djuweng, Pancur Dangeri Rubber Cooperative Grant Proposal to Danish Government (Personal Copy) 53


Dayak ways of managing natural resources are both sustainable and productive…The Dayak peoples economy relies on a mixture of indigenous and modern economics.”54 Similarly John Bamba, in his article The Contribution of Institutional Resilience to Ecological Resilience in Kalimantan, Indonesia: A Cultural Perspective, engages directly with the term sustainable development directly. He writes: Many experts say that sustainable development must at least meet three criteria: first economically beneficial; second, ecologically sound; third, not culturally destructive. It is obvious that the indigenous peoples especially the Dayak have been practising sustainable ways of extracting natural resources for ages.55 ID’s narratives express a rejection of modern industrial extraction of natural resources in favor of traditional sustainable practices, however they also indicate the need for and importance of, technology. Djuweng’s comment that sustainable development is an absurd notion is contradicted by the Institute's emphasis on the importance of sustainability and sustainable development as an answer to Dayak marginalization Clearly, ID sees sustainable development as a method of revitalizing and restoring Dayak cultural heritage and promoting traditional knowledge in modern terms. The opposition to technology and modern media in the narratives of Institute of Stephanus Djuweng, Pancur Dangeri Rubber Cooperative Grant Proposal to Danish Government (Personal Copy)
55 54

John Bamba, “The Contribution of Institutional Resilience to Ecological Resilience in Kalimantan, Indonesia: A Cultural Perspective. (Personal Copy: Date Unknown). A similar version of this article is featured in Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), 1.


Dayakology are also coupled with an acceptance of their benefits. The modern technology of the oppressors is co-opted and appropriated to restore the indigenous knowledge and power that was ignored, de-valued or destroyed. Specific types of modern technology are very important to the efficacy of cooperative business ventures, social organization and educational and empowerment strategies. In fact the sophisticated network that ID belongs to requires rather sophisticated technology. In the context of ID’s aim to revitalize and restore Dayak cultural heritage, and to retain the long lost dignity and sovereignty of the Dayak, technology and modern media are used as educational and organizational tools that aid the process of revitalization in a modern cultural context. In an explanation of the inner workings of the Pancur Dangeri rubber cooperative Djuweng admits that:

The usage of the appropriate technology seems to be unavoidable in the attempt to increase the affectivity and efficiency of the services as well the members trust in KPD. Starting from November 2002, KPD hired a computer programmer to develop computer software suitable for specific services and products of KPD. In 2004 KPD will purchase 28 computers as well train operators, and accountants, supervisors, and managers totalling to 35 persons. The other necessary technology devices are the communication tools that enable KPD to control and command.56 ID’s ability to document Dayak culture, publish their narratives, and to reframe the Dayak identity comes from their use of computers, printing machines, and various recording, broadcasting, and communication technologies. The use of technology plays an important role in the creation and communication of counter narratives. Ironically, in some cases the use of technology can re-establish a connection to the natural environment, or can be used as a tool to show the ingenuity of traditional knowledge Stephanus Djuweng, Pancur Danger Rubber Cooperative Grant Proposal to Danish Government. 55


Counter Mapping as Counter Narrative: Coopting the Tools of Development to Create Legitimacy PPSDAK used modern GPS mapping systems in order to characterize and classify their land use systems. By locating their traditional knowledge spatially they were able to contradict the prevailing mainstream narrative concerning the geography of the ecological landscape. The national government, by maintaining a fiction that the forests were empty and unused was able to lease them out to industrial logging concessions, but PPSDAK utilized these maps to populate the landscape not only with peoples’ prior traditional uses but by using their own terms for types of land use categories. They completely redefined the concept of the forest, and natural resource management, according to the Dayak reality. In the process they created the best quality maps of local land use which the local government planning offices were forced to recognize. After forty Dayak elders had attested to the accuracy of the maps, the local village heads were forced to sign them, thereby making them legal documents. This mapping creates legitimacy for an even deeper concept. For the Dayak and other ecosystem people the land itself becomes a narrative. The ecological landscape tells the story of Dayak identity and culture. This is a story repeated across the world in Indgenous People’s communities. “We write our knowledge on the land,” says Ferell Cunningham, a young leader of the Mountain Maidu tribe in Northern California . Reframing of the Dayak identity, and the revitalization of Dayak culture occurs through narratives published by the Institute of Dayakology and its network, but also through a


reframing of the land itself.

Hybrid Identities: Stephanus Djuweng, Critical Thinker And Entrepreneur Stephanus Djuweng has been one of the most active figures in the Dayak social movement of Kalimantan. He is one of the founders and economic strategists of Pancur Kasih. Stephanus Djuweng is responsible for a large amount of narratives that are produced by SEGARAK and ID and has been one of the most active critics of the global force of development, and the dominant capitalistic economic paradigm. However, Djuweng is far from being a simple idealist. As an elite and educated Dayak, Djuweng truly exhibits some characteristics that contradict his critiques of capitalism. One of the moments that defined for me the internal tension between modernity and traditionality that exists within many Dayak, happened one night at Djuweng’s house. I had just come down from my room for dinner and some men had showed up at the house. They brought with them a brochure with a pyramid on it and a picture of a car. After asking what it was I was told that this was a way of making money without producing anything and that it was a system based on trust. In America we know it as the Ponzy Pyramid Scheme. Now, just as the system was being explained to me, Djuweng remarked, “People think I am becoming a capitalist.” His wife smiled and chuckled but I was put off by this unfortunate reality. I began to realize just how entrepreneurial Djuweng was. I soon found out that not only was Djuweng one of the highest grossers on the pyramid, but he was a consultant! He also had a business importing a medicine from West Papua called Buah Merah (Red Fruit), which he sold out of his home to private individuals and to various pharmacies in Pontianak.


The Pyramid Scheme troubled me for a while because my vision of Djuweng as an anti-capitalist economist was crushed, or at least dramatically altered. However I soon realized that in Djuweng’s world, this type of “self-reliance” was held as something incredibly important to his own empowerment as a Dayak. His adoption of capitalist entrepreneurial tendencies was simply a result of cultural translation and adaptation. I also realized that self-reliance was in fact a tradition among the Dayak for thousands of years. Agricultural people, like the Dayak, have been practicing what we may in the U.S. call “homesteading.” They grow and raise their own food, and have lived directly off the land that is in close proximity to their homes. With this cultural practices embedded in their consciousness, it is no wonder that when introduced to a modern economic scenario, people like Djuweng become interested in owning private business ventures and creating capital through entrepreneurial means.

Narrative Versus Reality – A Field Visit With Adorya Niti: Shaman And Local Activist One of the most interesting experiences I had in West Kalimantan was my cultural immersion in the rural Dayak village of Simpakng Dua, under the tutelage of Adorya Niti, a shaman and a local activist. While I was in Simpakng Dua I was lucky not only to experience a different expression of Dayak life than those of the concrete jungle of Pontianak, but I was able to compare how the narratives portrayed by ID and its network were actually serving and changing rural communities. The narratives, especially academic articles and grant proposals written by John Bamba and Stephanus Djuweng, using charts, graphs and Power Point presentations, emphasize the sophistication and


growth of their cooperatives and credits unions into rural areas of Kalimantan. Although they admit to economic difficulties and even bankruptcy along the way, the narratives conceal some of these problems the credit unions and cooperatives are having. As articles are written to show the institutional and ecological resilience and adaptation of the Dayak, and Dayak run LSMs, and grant proposals are written in order to receive more funding for various projects, they are prone to mention the positive affects of their programs and ignore the negative ones. When I saw one of the Dayak run shops that belonged to the KPD Cooperative, I was shocked to see that it was slightly run down, disorganized and according to Adorya Niti, rarely used by the people of the village. This presented to me a different reality from the one I had read about in the narratives. I witnessed the difficulty, and inefficiency that this sophisticated cooperative still experienced. The romantic notion about traditional practices, based on an intimate relationship with nature, were also tempered by reality. Adorya was a dukun who practiced shamanism as a profession and was accomplished in the art of traditional healing. However, when I cut my leg with a sharp grass, he took me to the local nurse to get antiseptic. When I asked him if he believed in the power of magic to heal wounds, he gave me a confusing answer. “Yes,” he said, “but it is not as strong any more.” My experience with Adorya Niti also verified that rural Dayak were adopting the characteristics of self-reliance, solidarity and critical culture. Adorya Niti himself frequently facilitated various meetings organized by ID and its network to educate the rural Dayak. During one meeting I went to, different village representatives were comparing their customary laws with the ecologically destructive laws of the state


government. He also was continually reading various books, and articles about contemporary Dayak issues. Even though as a shaman, Adorya was a living document to the Dayak cultural heritage and identity, he was still engaged in cricital analysis about it. living document

Institutional Self-Reliance And Institutional Solidarity On a national level the narratives indicate that one of the central issues for ID, the Dayak and many masyarakat adat groups in Indonesia, is the issue of forming an independent identity while at the same time attempting to regain long lost dignity and sovereignty. This struggle presents itself as an apparent contradiction between the institution’s emphasis on self-reliance and the need for solidarity with others. The Dayak struggle with the need to to create a sense of autonomy within the Indonesian nation state, while trying to adapt to and within its political and economic processes. In some ways this struggle has been made both simpler and more difficult with democratization, decentralization and the creation of more political space in the country. Perviously under Suharto the Dayak had no political power, or autonomy. But as a result of the increasing decentralization there are benefits to staying within the Indonesian state. However this makes creating a balance between gaining autonomy and trying to adapt to the political, social, economic processes of the Indonesian state much more difficult. Along with ID’s attempt at social reconciliation and its interest in fostering solidarity with other ethnic groups, has been a recurring conception of an independent Dayak State, called the Dayak Dream State. In 1942, an independent Dayak State called Madjang Desa was founded after some Dayak groups won direct battles against the


Japanese. However the leaders of Madjang Desa decided to join the Republic of Indonesia after its independence on August 17, 1947. During the Sukarno years, educated Dayaks were capable of holding office in local and national governments, however, Suharto put an end to this. Ever since Madjang Desa joined Indonesia, educated Dayak have dreamt of an independent Dayak State. In addition violent clashes between the Dayak and the Madurese exacerbated the pro-independence sentiment. 57 The Kalimantan Review had published several articles about the possibility of such an idea. A.R. Mercer the founder of Pancur Kasih, the mother of the Dayak struggle in West Kalimantan, and Stephanus Djuweng, the Executive Secretary of SEGARAK were among those accused of writing a letter to the Mayor of Pontianak, and several high level military leaders, that said they were planning to establish a Republic of Dayak Independence. All of the signers of the letter denied their participation after being interrogated. In various ways ID and its networks have been able to regain their lost dignity and sovereignty through attempting to monopolize the rubber market in Kalimantan through the use of cooperatives, credit unions and Dayak run businesses. The credit unions started by the Dayak prove to be very interesting in this context because, although they may be run and created by Dayak, many of them have benefited poor and rural people of all ethnicities, in both rural and urban areas. In this way, they are serving the Dayak cause, but also providing other people with economic and educational opportunities. The tension between self-reliance and solidarity is also shown in the narratives through the presentation of ID as a self-reliant community institution or Lembaga Kalimantan Review No. 36 Year VII August 1998, Kalimantan Review No. 52 December 1999, Kalimantan Review No. 60 Year IX 10 August-10 September 2000. 61

Swadaya Masyarakat, and their dependency on alliances with both government and nongovernmental local, national and international bodies. This tension is rooted in the larger and much more complex issue of how non-government organizations are defined and function. On the one hand ID and its networks are self-reliant in that they are run and created by people who identify themselves as Dayak. They have made efficient cooperatives, such as the Pancur Danger Rubber Cooperative, which recycles money that is earned by the institutions and the credit unions they themselves created through their own political and economic investments. On the other hand as non-government organizations they require donations from larger government and non-governmental bodies. For example large endowments from the Ford Foundation, WWF and various other large international NGO, as well as the Danish government, have provided the resources for some of their most successful projects, such as the counter mapping done by PPSDAK 58. In this sense they are not completely self reliant, for they rely on the political and economic resources of other bodies. The alliances made between these larger and wealthier groups create a solidarity that links them to larger political, ecological and social movements which gives them more power in the world arena. The perpetuation and communication of their narratives to the wider world also depends on these alliances. ID’s status as an institution within the Indonesian system is a great example of the strategic positioning involved in creating both self-reliance and solidarity. In the history of ID, I recounted that ID, then known as IDRD (Institute of Dayakology Research and

John Bamba, “The Contribution of Institutional Resilience to Ecological Resilience in Kalimantan, Indonesia: A Cultural Perspective. (Personal Copy: Date Unknown), 27. 62


Development) joined LP3S, in order to be accepted by the government as an institution that was not necessarily a threat to the status quo, while being able to function independently. In a similar fashion ID functions independently from others that belong to the internal network, but it maintains a foundation of power through its close association with them. ID, separated from various other institutions in the network is able to wear the politically neutral garment of social and cultural documentation while, as a member of the network it engages in activities that are a direct challenge to the prevailing structure of society and the narratives and rhetoric used by governmental bodies. The balancing act between institutional self-reliance and institutional solidarity through alliances is a major method of adaptation and resilience. ID has been resilient as a result of using the bureaucratic systems to their advantage. The mapping done by PPDSAK presents another example of using modern bureaucratic processes to legitimize Dayak knowledge and power. It is precisely in their sophisticated balancing acts that the narratives of the ID have woven a protective net (and network) around its community.

This paper has had several goals. It attempts to prove that the analysis of narrative is an insightful way of studying social movements, in particular those social movements that are concerned with creating a new identity out of converging values. By analyzing the narratives of ID, this paper has sought to reveal the complexity of the challenges facing Dayaks and their creative responses. Narrative analysis reflects the Dayak people’s story as it is unfolding and being manipulated by key voices such as that


of the Institute of Dayakology and it network. The adaptive and improvisatory nature of these narratives reveals contradictions, multiple strategies and creates hybrid identities and realties. Though full of tensions, and seeming contradictions the totality of ID’s narratives have given new power and legitimacy to the Dayaks. The use of narrative is in itself an example of the remarkable adaptability and resilience of Dayak identity and culture. The ID network engages in a range of other activities and the ultimate impact they have on the Dayak people will be a result of both the narratives and the practical implementations of these activities. Looking at the narratives, however, allows us to try and appreciate this process of change as it is perceived by the Dayak and as they would like others to perceive it. I hope that my role in explicating these narratives has helped clarify to shed light on both of these dimensions. Of course in the final analysis, this paper is a narrative of my own perception and my wonderful experience with the Dayak people.


Figure 1. Pancur Kasih Support Networks59

Janis B. Alcorn and Antoinette G. Royo, eds. 2000 Indigenous Social Movements and Ecological Resilience: Lessons From the Dayak of Indonesia, (Washington DC: Biodiversity Support Program), Appendix 1. 65


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