The opening of the report consists of the basic characteristics and subsistence of the Batek tribe and impact of foraging on different aspects of culture. The report also demonstrates a gender relation under the Batek tribe, its social organization, religious and spiritual beliefs and values …
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The paper tells that in our life we have “a web of values, meanings, and behavior” which is deeply infused in our everyday life. This is the essence of culture and it plays an important role in our lives. In a particular habitat where human beings stay they are considered to be the “ecologically dominant component.” Humans have always appropriated nature including the living and inanimate ambience to suit their purpose. One thing has to be kept in mind that a change occurs in humans over time which is both cultural as well as biological. However humans have always adapted to the change and progressed. Human beings have always selected established and refined modes of production so that there is an existence of long term coordination and settlement in a particular area. A change in the subsistence will not only bring about changes in conditions pertaining to food production but also in the socio- cultural base of a community. Thus we can say that a change in subsistence is closely related to cultural changes. Subsistence mode differs among tribes in different places across the world. The pattern of the mode in turn also affects different aspects of the culture. The tribe selected here is the Batek of Malaysia and their chief mode of subsistence is foraging. Foraging, or hunting and gathering are considered to be the “oldest form of human society” and here survival was based on the exploitation of “flora and fauna.” People here mostly lived in small and independent communities. Nomadic lifestyle was followed here and goods produced were meant for self consumption. In this mode there is the strengthening of people’s obligations to each other because of continuous movement of goods through “kinship ties and residential proximity.” Here one cannot find the existence of personal wealth as there is the obligation to share and due to the nomadic life. Exercising authority over others on the basis of control over others is absent in this form and as a result there is the existence an “egalitarian structure in foraging societies” (Nowak & Laird, 2010). In this respect the paper seeks to examine the impact of subsistence mode and culture on the Batek tribe of Malaysia. One can see that there is a deep association between subsistence mode and culture. Culture is something that is inculcated by the Batek and it is often adapted to suit the changing subsistence mode. The Batek Tribe – basic characteristics and subsistence In the modern world people in order to keep pace with the ever changing world adopt new subsistence mode and move on in life. Even tribes often forced by circumstances abandon their traditional modes and adopts the latest to keep pace with the world in the name of development. Amidst this there is still the existence of the Batek tribe who has been foragers and they had been living like this for a long time. The Batek of Malaysia living in the peninsular region still follows foraging as their subsistence mode. At present most of them lives around Taman Negara, Peninsular Malaysia’s national park. Prior to this until 1970 most of them had been residing in the lowland rain forests which was field with ample flora and fauna was very much suitable for foraging type of subsistence. It is believed that both culturally and biologically the Batek are the descendents of the earliest human population found in the Malay Peninsula known as “Hoabinhians.” The Batek society follows the pattern of a nuclear family. So we find that the married couples in this tribe are independent in their decisions to live and to choose the kind of work they desire. “Personal autonomy” is very much valued by the Batek and any form of force is not seen over here. The authority of the parents over their children is found to be week. Orthodox views in case of marriages and divorces are not observed in this society. Men and women are free to choose their spouses and in
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The Batek are originally from Malaysia and are found in the rainforest of peninsular Malaysia. They gather food by hunting rather than animal husbandry and so their place of settlement varies within the limited boundaries of the area that they occupy. Around 800 members of the Batek community stay in Taman Negara which is a national park in the Malaysian peninsula.
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The focus in this paper is on the Batek as one of the 18 ethnic groups in the country and make up around 0.5% of the national population of Malaysia. An in-depth look into the aspects of the Batek society will hopefully provide a deeper insight into how these people live and which values they possess that contemporary society should emulate.
(Endicott 1978) The Bateks make up about 0.5 percent of the entire original people community of Malaysia which comes around an estimated 100 thousand people. Irrespective of all the people belonging to a same structure of living, all of these people are divided and subdivided into multiple groups and hence the way of living is extraordinarily unique with respect to each group.
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They are commonly referred to as “Orang Asli” which means “Original People” in Malay and is assumed to be first used by Austronesian-speaking settlers who arrived by boat from the islands of Southeast Asia. The Batek, who currently number about 800 (Center for Orang Asli Concerns, 2008), are foragers and use hunting and gathering as their primary mode of subsistence.
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