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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.
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For a detailed discussion on the riverine networks of central–northern Sarawak, see Jayl Langub and Noboru Ishikawa ( 2017).
The rivalry between Brunei Malays and Chinese traders led to a riot in Bintulu bazaar in 1881. Not only ‘ill feelings remained’ but it also negatively affected the district economy (Gueritz 1883: 96).
Unless otherwise noted, ‘Dyak’ in quotations from the Sarawak Gazette refers to the Iban.
Jelutong is a species of wild rubber commonly found in swampy areas. The latex is primarily used in the manufacture of chewing gum.
For the implementation of the International Rubber Regulation Agreement of 1934 and the reaction of local peasants through their cross-border activities in Sarawak and Dutch Borneo, see Noboru Ishikawa ( 2010).
Aplin, H.D. 1928. Bintulu report. Sarawak Gazette.
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———. 1917b. Bintulu report, July 1917. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1918. Bintulu report, November 1917. Sarawak Gazette.
Cunynghame, S. 1917. Bintulu report, May 1917. Sarawak Gazette.
Day, H.R.A. 1900. Bintulu report, September 1900. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1901. Bintulu report, December 1900. Sarawak Gazette.
Department of Statistics Malaysia, Sarawak Branch. 2010. Yearbook of statistics. Kuching: Department of Statistics Malaysia.
Drage, Fred. 1883. Bintulu report dated November 30, 1882. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1886. Bintulu monthly report, Sarawak Gazette.
Gueritz, Geo. 1883. Bintulu monthly report for September 1883. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1884. Bintulu report for November 1883. Sarawak Gazette.
Hose, Charles. 1905. Rejang report, February 14, 1905. Sarawak Gazette.
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———. 2010. Between frontiers: Nation and identity in a Southeast Asian borderland. Singapore/Copenhagen/Athens: NUS Press/NIAS Press/Ohio University Press.
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Kortright, H.H. 1922. Bintulu report, May 1922. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1926. Bintulu report, July 1926. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1927. Bintulu report, October 1926 and January 1927. Sarawak Gazette.
Langub, Jayl, and Noboru Ishikawa. 2017. Community, river and basin: Watersheds in northern Sarawak as a social linkage. In Borneo studies in history, society and culture, ed. Victor T. King, Zawawi Ibrahim, and Noor Hasharina Hassan, 365–383. Singapore: Springer. CrossRef
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———. 1983. Change without development: The transformation of Punan Bah economy. Sarawak Museum Journal 32 (53): 191–203.
Owen, Donald A. 1903a. Bintulu report, December 1902. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1903b. Bintulu report, February 5, 1903. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1903c. Bintulu report, June and July 1903. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1904a. Bintulu report, June 1904. Sarawak Gazette.
———. 1904b. Bintulu report, March and September 1904. Sarawak Gazette.
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Sarawak Gazette. 1884. Bintulu report.
———. 1885. Bintulu report (communicated).
———. 1895. Committee of Administrators report dated October 12, 1895.
——— 1904. Report of the Treasury and Trade Departments.
———. 1905. Bintulu annual report, dated February 9, 1905.
———. 1917. Extracts from annual reports 1916, Sibu.
———. 1935. Fourth Division news, July 1935.
Soda, Ryoji. 2001. Rural–urban migration of the Iban of Sarawak and changes in long-house communities. Geographical Review of Japan 74 (1): 92–112. CrossRef
- Commodified Frontier: Jungle Produce Trade and Kemena Basin Society, Sarawak, in History
- Springer Singapore
- Chapter 6