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The Batek of Malaysia - Research Paper Example

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This study looks into the Batek, a peace-loving aboriginal group of Malaysia known for their nomadic yet nonviolent lifestyle. The Batek belong to the approximately 133,000 aborigines known as the Orang Asli, or “original people,” of Malaysia…
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Download file to see previous pages The researcher states that the Batek of Malaysia are a kinship-based society, which means that it emphasizes nurturing and sharing. Batek parents spend a lot of time playing with their children of either sex and they also spend this time holding, cuddling and talking to them. Batek parents also do not use harsh disciplinary methods when scolding their children, as their vernacular term sakel, which means hit also means the same as kill, thus the idea of even hitting their children disgusts them. Moreover, Batek parents raise their children in the spirit of respect, care and affection, and the whole camp even shares their own time in order to facilitate care for the child and to feed them. Lastly, as the Batek children are growing up, they are usually made to engage in active play but not in an aggressive or competitive manner, as competition is simply outside of the Batek system of belief. The kinship system of the Batek, just like many of the contemporary foraging aboriginal groups of Southeast Asia, follows the kinship classification of the Inuit, where parents are different from uncles and aunts. The Batek society has the conjugal family as its basic unit, and this conjugal family is politically independent and economically self-sufficient. These conjugal families, which mostly consist of eight or more children each, live in a camp that in turn consists of two to fifteen families related by blood. These camps are classified by the Batek themselves as belonging to one of the three “river valley groups,” who, although practically indistinguishable, occupy the Aring, upper Lebir or lower Lebir watersheds. (Endicott, 1988). Generally, the Batek society fosters equality between husband and wife, and the married couple is always expected to show affection to each other (“The Batek De,” 2010). Political Organization The political organization of the Batek is relatively simple since the society is highly egalitarian. A closely-knit settled group of Batek may be assigned a headman, who is tasked to represent the group and to act as its spokesperson in matters where the Batek have to deal with the non-Batek (“The Taman Negara,” 2010). The headman, who is called penghulu in the native Malay language, is usually chosen because he is believed to possess “charisma, extroversion, and a familiarity with the Malay language” (“The Taman Negara,” 2010; Endicott, 1988). The headman is usually appointed by the Malaysian government through the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in order to have a spokesman for the group of Batek and for the group to have someone to relay to them the sentiments or wishes of the non-Batek (Endicott, 1988). Moreover, the headman is expected to possess an in-depth knowledge of the traditions of the Batek community, and may at times, because of such knowledge, assume the title of “Tok Batin” or “Spiritual Elder” (Ahmad, 2009). Nevertheless, the headman can only act as a persuasive leader and not an authoritative one (“Batek,” 2011). On the whole, the Batek society exemplifies political equality and the basis of this is most probably the fact that the Batek do not foster the practice of imposing their will upon their fellowmen, and except for ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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