サラワク・イバン人社会における都市への移動とロングハウス・コミュニティの空洞化 [in Japanese] Rural-Urban Migration of the Iban of Sarawak and Changes in Long-House Communities [in Japanese]
Access this Article
Search this Article
In many regions of Southeast Asia, rural communities have been becoming subordinate to urban cen-ters. Much attention has been directed to various types of rural-urban migration. Notwithstanding, there have been comparatively few studies on the transformation of rural communities resulting from out-migration.<br> In this paper I discuss the rural-urban migration of a typical indigenous people (Iban) and its effects on rural communities in Sarawak, Malaysia.<br> The Iban, who were introduced primarily by Freeman (1955) as typical shifting cultivators in South-east Asia, have a kind of communal house (called a long-house) in which plural families live together. A long-house has two important sections; one is <i>bilek</i> (separate family rooms), and the other <i>ruai</i> (a common corridor). A <i>bilek</i> is traditionally recognized as closed to other families and forms the domestic space for each nuclear family, where mainly females manage the family economy and play an important role in continuing the <i>bilek</i>-family. <i>Ruai</i>, although as a rule is an open com-mon space for all, is actually a male-centered place, where various sorts of gatherings or conferences are held.<br> Since the Iban were nomadic by nature, their long-houses were unsettled dwellings premised on fre-quent migration. They began to settle, however, from the early years of this century in the process of interaction with an English sovereign (the Brooke family) and other alien immigrants such as the Chinese. In the intensively studied area (Kanowit), too, there are many factors which have been sup-porting fixed residence and population growth in long-house communities. Long-houses in Kanowit had already assumed the function of a permanent dwelling house by 1980.<br> Following the remarkable economic development in Sarawak since the 1960s, however, a new type of migration was promoted in Iban society. Important aspects of this movement can be summarized as follows: (1) rural-urban migration of Iban males for the purpose of seeking jobs has been acceler-ated, and accordingly, their occupations in towns and cities have become diversified and stabilized; (2) not only has the duration of time spent working away from home tended to be extended, but those who settle in urban areas have also increased in number; (3) more females are leaving the long-houses to follow their husbands who are employed in towns and cities.<br> On the other hand, subsistence activities in Iban villages have also been changing as a result of the continuous out-migration of young people. In short: (1) wet paddy cultivation in easily accessible sites has become more popular than dry paddy cultivation on steep hills; (2) repeated cultivation of paddy in the same field or contraction in the fallow period has become noticeable; (3) paddy planted acreage has been reduced. These changes indicate that the importance of subsistence activities has been declining.<br> In light of the significance of a long-house space, the absence of the younger generation and the de-cline of subsistence agriculture have had two main impacts: (1) the <i>bilek</i> is losing its importance as a place where cultural inheritance between generations and the succession of the <i>bilek</i>-family itself are secured; (2) in <i>ruai</i>, meetings for agricultural labor exchange have disappeared, and ritual activities based on the agricultural cycle or other kinds of gatherings have become less frequent.<br> These can be regarded as a process in which the integrated long-house community is divided into smaller units, particularly into nuclear families based on married couples.<br> In conclusion, in Iban society increasing female out-migration and the decline in subsistence activi-ties are key factors transforming long-house communities.
- Geographical review of Japan, Series B.
Geographical review of Japan, Series B. 72(1), 1-22, 1999-01-01
The Association of Japanese Geographers