Friday, August 31, 2007

Pampang 1: Pampang culture village and international tourism in East Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo

Human Organization, Winter 2001 by Schiller, Anne

Pampang, a village inhabited by Kenyah Dayaks, an indigenous people of Indonesian Borneo, was recently declared the first "culture village" in the province of East Kalimantan. This study traces the development of "Pampang Culture Village" and examines the incipient effects of tourism on the lives and livelihoods of local people. Even as the village's cultivation as a tourist destination has begun to garner benefits for residents, their role in the enterprise remains ambiguous. Left unresolved, this confusion could contribute to fissures within the community. Another disturbing side effect is the creation of a new arena for competition among native subgroups. Competition for tourists may have negative consequences for whether indigenous peoples can forge and maintain a common identity for themselves in an era of rapid social transformation.
Among Pasadena, California's, 1994 Parade of Roses floats was one that transported a singularly exotic contingent: male dancers bundled in banana leaves, middle-aged women with elongated earlobes and forearms scored by dark tattoos, an orangutan cradling her infant. Called "Mysterious Borneo," it was sponsored by the Republic of Indonesia and intended to promote travel to that Southeast Asian country (Kaltim Post 1994a). While most foreigners vacationing in Indonesia visit the islands of Bali or Java, the neighboring island of Borneo-known in the Indonesian language as Kalimantan-also includes an area touted by the government as a tourist venue. The persons on the "Mysterious Borneo" float, as well as the orangutans, came from one of those venues, the province of East Kalimantan.
Despite its efforts, Indonesia's fortunes in promoting international tourism have lately plummeted. Declines in the number of visitors to Kalimantan, specifically, are largely due to three factors: political instability leading some foreign governments to issue temporary advisories against travel there, forest fires that incinerated huge rainforest tracts leaving the air unfit to breathe for months at a time, and ongoing interethnic violence in the west and central provinces. Nevertheless, East Kalimantan continues to pin its hopes on tourism. Its provincial and municipal offices of tourism, both located in the provincial capital, Samarinda, have begun to select locales to develop for "culture tourism,." One is Pampang, a village inhabited by a group of native people known generically as "Dayaks," some with ties to the team that once brought home an "International Trophy" from the Parade of Roses.
The aim of this paper is to trace the development of "Pampang Culture Village" and to examine the incipient effects of culture tourism on the lives and livelihoods of villagers there. The paper argues that even as Pampang's designation as a tourist destination has garnered some benefits for the community-mostly in terms of highly targeted infrastructural development-it has introduced confusion concerning exactly what the designation "culture village" means. Residents' role in the enterprise also remains ambiguous. Lack of clarity concerning what a culture village should comprise, coupled with economic and social changes related to the escalation of tourism, may contribute to fissures within the community. The paper suggests, too, that a disturbing side effect of culture tourism in Kalimantan has been the creation of a new arena for competition among native subgroups and between natives and migrants. It asserts that competition for tourist dollars may have serious consequences for whether and how indigenous peoples can forge unity across subgroups in this high-stakes era of rapid social transformation.
Theoretical Background
Dramatic political and economic changes are lately sweeping over many Southeast Asian nations, where the process of nation building itself is a relatively new endeavor. Nation building is complicated by the heterogeneity of the region's citizenries. Indonesia, for example, is populated by peoples of strikingly different cultural backgrounds who practice different religions, speak myriad tongues, and are dispersed across an island chain the width of the United States. Yet by virtue of historical contingencies-in particular, their common experience of European colonialism-these groups have taken on the difficult task of creating a national identity. Even after nearly six decades it remains fragile, and, in light of recent political upheaval, some would argue that it is disintegrating. The most important conceptual vehicle used to reify and inculcate Indonesian identity remains Pancasila, the "Five Principles" that are the ideological basis of the Indonesian state. School children as well as civil servants are required to attend civics education programs designed to deepen their commitment to the state through the study of Pancasila.
The official motto of the Republic of Indonesia, "Unity in Diversity," distinctly acknowledges the heterogeneity of its populace. However, even while acknowledging religious and ethnic difference, the state simultaneously seeks to ensure that citizens demonstrate their ethnicity in acceptable ways. A glance at the state's role in the tourism industry provides insight into which dimensions of diversity are deemed acceptable and, with regard to tourism's important role in the economic sector, most useful.
The Asian-Pacific region is quickly growing in popularity as a tourist destination. Some scholars have posited that the study of tourism there "provides a way to understand what has been happening to ethnicity" (Picard and Wood 1997:viii). Concerning Indonesia, it has been argued that "it is only through the articulation and celebration of obvious diversity" that "'unique' customs within a broader system of Indonesian cultural representations" can be identified (Pemberton 1994:12). The most palpable expression of this process of representation and identification is a huge cultural theme park called "Taman Mini Indonesia Indah" or "Beautiful Indonesia in Miniature Park," which opened in 1975. Taman Mini stands at the edge of Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, located on the island of Java. It features a pond studded with concrete islands that depicts the geography of the Indonesian archipelago and pavilions erected in many regional architectural styles. Watching dance performances and purchasing souvenir handicrafts are important parts of a visit to Mini Indonesia. The park's success has inspired some of Indonesia's provincial governments to follow suit. On the island of Sulawesi, for example, a park has been built featuring festival buildings that resemble 19th century animist temples of various local ethnic groups, That complex has been dubbed "Beautiful Sulawesi in Miniature Gardens" (Schrauwers 1998:204).
Discussing the relationship between tourism and identity on the Indonesian island of Bali, Michel Picard (1997:206) writes that the emergence of ethnic identity there should be seen as a dynamic response to new situations brought about by the state. Tracing the development of a notion of "Balineseness" based mostly on shared religion (Hinduism) and custom, he suggests that the components of Balinese identity are, in large part, the deliberate choices of certain individuals who are "authorized" to speak for the society as a whole and therefore monopolize legitimate discourse. These cultural spokespersons include government personnel and other professionals such as academics, entrepreneurs, and journalists (Picard 1997:207). Yet it is important to underscore that some dimensions of Balinese identity have taken shape in a direct dynamic with tourism. James Boon (1977:187) has noted that 20th century Western devotees of Bali-including anthropologists-who wrote of their fears that the complex artistic traditions associated with Bali would disappear, "were actually witnessing more of a rejuvenation of arts and performances, partly in response to new tourist markets in the 1920s."
It has been said that tourists to Bali arrive anticipating "a serene and harmonious people" whom they will encounter as they travel along "sun-dappled roads that meander quietly past peaceful villages and markets" (Vickers 1989:191). What might they expect from a trip to Kalimantan? Rather than a relaxing ramble, many come intending to engage in experiences that test their physical stamina. These adventures include rafting down rapids or participating in pan-island jeep races (Freund 1996). Unlike Balinese villages, those of Dayaks are often separated by hours or days of hard travel. Given their isolation, it is not surprising that there are many different "kinds" of Dayaks, and that their languages and traditions differ. The designation "Dayak tribe," or references to particular "tribes," are largely terms of convenience that do not signify corporate political organizations. Different subtribes speak different languages and, in some cases, subgroups of the same subtribe may speak nearly mutually unintelligible dialects.
Religion is another area in which Balinese and Dayaks differ. Whereas Balinese are predominantly Hindus and watching temple festivals or cremations are highlights of visits to their island, the Dayaks of Kalimantan practice a variety of religions. Most are converts to world religions; the majority practice Catholicism or Protestantism. At the same time, travelers to Kalimantan may indeed happen upon indigenous celebrations, including elaborate mortuary rituals involving animal sacrifice and, sometimes, secondary burial (Schiller 2002, 2001). In the past, some Dayak groups engaged in head taking or rituals of human sacrifice, practices associated with their indigenous animistic faiths (Schiller 1997). As a result, Dayaks have historically been stereotyped as headhunting "wild men," with some exceptions (Boon 1990:18-25). Recent events, in particular the violence between Dayaks and migrants in the west and central provinces, have done little to alter that view. The stereotype of the Dayak headhunter also continues to be reinforced with images deployed by the tourist industry. These images feature, for example, natives in traditional dress clustered around an orangutan skull and include references to headhunting dances in travel brochures. Industry professionals realize there is a risk to carrying the headhunting trope too far, however; hence visitors to Kalimantan can also buy postcards that feature photographs of natives printed above the caption "Welcome to the Dayak Peace Land."
An attraction many tourists have come to associate with travels among Dayaks is the opportunity to see the latter's artificially extended earlobes. One travel writer, remarking on what she observed in the course of a strenuous hike across parts of Borneo's interior, recently noted that "the Kelabit are [sic] known for their elaborate and enormous earrings, which elongate their earlobes down toward, and sometimes to, their shoulders" (Catchpole 1999). Few contemporary Dayaks engage in this form of bodily alteration nor, apparently, was the practice ubiquitous in the past. Nevertheless, the anticipation of seeing a "long-eared Dayak" is now embedded in touristic consciousness as a travel highlight. That the tourist industry contributes to the perpetuation of this image is revealed by even a cursory glance at travel brochures from East Kalimantan.
Concerning the attributes by which ethnic groups are characterized, a final distinction between "Balineseness" and "Dayakness" may be made. Whereas the manner in which the Balinese are known among outsiders is, at least to some extent, the product of deliberate choices made by a native intelligentsia, Dayakness largely remains associated in travellers' minds with a physical inscription-long ears-as well as with geographical remoteness and lives of simple subsistence. As indigenous activists concerned with constructions of Dayak identity point out, long ears are destined to vanish with the oldest generation's passing. How the economic circumstances of the Dayaks may change, and the role of tourism in that process, remains to be determined.
Several years ago, Indonesia's Ministry of Tourism ranked the Province of East Kalimantan number 15 in its long-range plan to expand touristic activities throughout the archipelago (Husain 1993a). For a period of 10 months ending in June 2000, I conducted the first phase of a long-term field study on the intersections among tourism, cultural representation, and Dayak activism in that province. My methodology included participant observation and attendance at cultural events in Pampang, the "culture village" mentioned at the outset of this paper. For more than half my time in the field, I also served as a volunteer ninth-grade English teacher in Pampang's middle school. All Indonesian youngsters are taught English, but in Pampang, it assumes particular importance-English is the language of international tourism. For six days of the week, children arrived at school dressed in worn but clean red and white school uniforms. On their day off, however, most were directly involved in the delivery of entertainment and traded their uniforms for dance costumes. Their long-eared, heavily tattooed grandparents accompanied many of them to Pampang's culture show, where they posed for photographs with tourists.
Mark Masperger (1995:87) suggests that the impact of the expansion of international tourism and resultant contact between tourists and hosts is "typically the highest among the small-scale societies that are unindustrialized and have recently emerged, or are now in the process of emerging, from colonial rule." The situation facing the 150 families in Pampang, whose livelihood depends mostly on swidden horticulture, offers a fascinating, and timely, case study in this regard. At present, Borneo's indigenous peoples are struggling to free themselves from state-engineered "internal colonialism." Internal colonialism has brought about the destruction of much native land and forced Dayaks to give up land rights-hence many Dayaks view tourists as resources that will enable them to increase their incomes and attract investment to their neglected island. Pampang's residents hope to position themselves at the forefront of the competition for tourists by encouraging their children to dance and by expanding their cottage industries. As has proved the case elsewhere in Indonesia, it is likely that Dayak identity will evolve, in part, through a dynamic relationship with tourism. The positive value that tourism places on cultural differencein this case, on being a Dayak-suggests that benefits can accrue for indigenous peoples through their participation in the industry. At the same time, changes in the local economy associated with tourism may come into conflict with traditional notions of social hierarchy or introduce new forms of competition that could prove deleterious in a larger indigenous struggle for social empowerment.


Peter N. Jones said...

This is an interesting article, although I don't know how much in favor I am of "cultural villages". Sounds too close to some type of preserve that will lock the people in the past. It is also another way for people's summer vacations to continue to impact indigenous peoples in a negative way.

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