, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 47-69

Endangered Forest, Endangered People: Environmentalist Representations of Indigenous Knowledge

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Since 1987, Penan foragers in Malaysia have been increasingly affected by the activities of logging companies, and have protested this with blockades. Simultaneously, they have become the focus of a broad-based international environmental campaign. This paper examines the rhetoric of that campaign. In particular, I examine the ways in which Western environmentalists have constructed Penan land rights with reference to Penan knowledge of the landscape and of the biotic elements which exist there. Further, I consider how environmentalists have drawn on ethnographic accounts, and how those accounts are transformed in the process of generating images deployed in the campaign.