Cosmological Landscapes and Extractivism - Dr Ivan Tacey
Dr Ivan Tacey, University of Exeter
G.10, 43 Woodland Road
Cosmological Landscapes and Extractivism
The environment of the Batek Manya’, a small group of hunter-gatherers from Peninsular Malaysia, is a patchwork of forested land, oil-palm and rubber plantations, interspersed by rivers and dramatic limestone karst formations. Two conspicuous features of Batek thought and everyday life are the salience of taboos and a plethora of topographic features which are associated with unseen agencies, history and creation stories.
Through linking times, places, people, spirits and myths, this agential landscape constitutes a remarkable cosmotopography. History and myth merge in the landscape; stories associated with some places detail how shamans used their magical powers to protect communities from violent outsiders, other stories and places mark the locations of daring escapes from slave-raiders or violent attacks which took place during the Communist Emergency.
Many places serve as continual reminders for people to abide by ethical codes and constitute an emplaced moral geography that structures everyday life and cosmology. In this paper, I discuss how Batek relations with other-than-human beings and discourses about their shamanistic practices have been reconfigured as extractive industries have rapidly and radically transformed their formerly forested environments.