Introduction to Cultural Anthropology (GSF1049E)
January 17, 2011
The Batek of Malaysia
The Batek of Malaysia is a hunter-gatherer tribe, they are located in the Malaysian rainforest in groups of families. They would be considered Foragers, They live in camps of five or six nuclear families. Nuclear families consist of a Mother, Father, and their children. “The nuclear family is most common because, in a foraging setting, it is adaptive to various situations.” (Cultural Anthropology Chapter 3.7 Social Organization) There are few differences in the way men and women behave and contribute to camp life. Both the husband and the wife raise the children; and, although generally men take care of hunting (using bamboo blowpipes and poison darts) and women take care of digging tubers, both genders take part in both these activities and neither activity is conferred a higher status. Both the men and women will collect the firewood and water for the camp. Even a group's "headman," or chief, may be a woman. There are no words for boy or girl, until puberty. The woman can hunt whenever they want, but usually only due so near the camp and for small game. While the daily food-getting responsibilities of the sexes differ - women normally gather vegetable foods and men concentrate on hunting, but both the men and woman collect and trade rattan, although the men do not weave with the rattan it is mainly the women as they will sell the woven baskets to tourist for money. The men specialize in hunting as they believe they have stronger breath for the blowguns. They are also considered fairly expendable as the ratio are 11 men to 8 women in most camps. The women who are nursing babies and the young children do not hunt. The batek have no sense of property ownership, the area they forage in is not theirs as they do not own it, and they do not forbit others from camping on it. There is no domination of leader, the leader emerges naturally through age and wisdom and strength,...
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