Commodified Frontier: Jungle Produce Trade and Kemena Basin Society, Sarawak, in History

  • Mayumi IshikawaEmail author
  • Noboru Ishikawa
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)


This chapter elucidates that the interior regions of Borneo have long been incorporated into the world economy through jungle produce trade, contrary to the naive presumption that they were inhabited by isolated forest dwellers. Through an analysis of colonial government documents and reports from the 1880s, it chronicles the status of the changing trade in commodities such as rattan, jelutong and belian (ironwood) prior to the advent of the exploitative timber economy along the Kemena River and its tributaries. Records of local events and interactions among different ethnic groups, merchants, officials, migrants and others show how people exercised agency, and employed strategies to respond to changing market trends, fluctuating prices and regulations imposed by the nascent colonial state. The riverine commons functioned as a critical interface linking global commodity chains with the peoples in the interior. The local history of the river basin illuminates trajectories through which Sarawak has become what it is today.


Sarawak Kemena basin Jungle produce trade Rattan Jelutong Belian 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Global InitiativesOsaka UniversityOsakaJapan
  2. 2.Center for Southeast Asian StudiesKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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