Nomads of the Borneo Rainforest: The Economics, Politics, and Ideology of Settling Down

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.55
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 82%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (9) from $4.55   
  • New (3) from $22.87   
  • Used (6) from $4.55   


The Punan societies of Borneo, traditionally nomadic rainforest hunters and gatherers, have undergone a transformation over the past centuries. As downriver farming peoples expanded upstream and their cultures and technologies diffused, the Punan gradually abandoned their nomadic existence for a more sedentary life of trade-related activities and subsistence agriculture. But the culture that has emerged from these changes is still based on the enduring ideological premises of nomadism. This study, historical in perspective, examines the many factors - ecological, economic, commercial, political, social, cultural, and ideological - that have played a part in this continuing transformation. Bernard Sellato spent much of the past twenty years in the center of Borneo living with more than a dozen nomadic or formerly nomadic groups. From that wealth of experience emerged this major ethnographic work focusing on two groups, the Bukat and the Kereho Busang. Sellato reconstructs their history largely from oral tradition, demonstrating its value in understanding the political, social, and economic history of societies without a written language. The text is enhanced by photographs, charts, and detailed maps that allow the reader to follow the progress of the Punan migrations. Originally published in French as Nomades et Sedentarisation a Borneo, the work was awarded the Jeanne Cuisinier prize for the best French book on Southeast Asia in the social sciences and humanities. The English translation, by Stephanie Morgan, contains a foreword by Georges Condominas.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Describes the process by which nomadic hunters of the Borneo rainforest have become sedentary and taken up subsistence farming and trading. Anthropologist Sellato has spent most of the past 20 years among the several groups, and emphasizes how the nomadic ideology survives to create a culture that is significantly different both from the previous way of life and from the downriver peoples with different heritages. First published in French in 1989. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780824815660
  • Publisher: University of Hawaii Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 286
  • Lexile: 1370L (what's this?)

Table of Contents

Preface to the English Edition
Preface to the French Edition
Pt. 1 Punan Histories: Data and Methodology 3
Ch. 1 Land and People 8
Ch. 2 The Bukat 18
Ch. 3 The Kereho of the Busang River 75
Pt. 2 Traditions and Changes: Origins of the Punan 115
Ch. 4 Traditional Nomad Culture 118
Ch. 5 Processes of Change 163
Ch. 6 Summary and Conclusion 215
Appendix: Maps and Charts 221
Abbreviations 253
Bibliography 257
Index 275
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)