Modernization in South-East Asia and Western Pacific

Date & Time

October 10-11, 2019


Palacký University, Křižkovského 12, Room 2.13 & Room 1.11., Olomouc, Czech Republic


The objective of this workshop is the modernization in Southeast Asia and West Melanesia. It will be focusing on issues such as biodiversity, environmental initiatives and projects concerning the changes related with the substinence and growth of global connections. These issues are increasingly pressing in the globalized world that is facing the climate change and the very collapse of eco-systems.

Book of Abstract

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10th October

9:00 – 9:20 Registration, Coffee and Tea

9:20 – 9:30 Opening Speech – Martin Soukup

9:30 – 10:30 (including 15 min. discussion)

Cultural Revival and Ecological Issues in Highlands Papua New Guinea

Pamela J. Stewart (Strathern) and Andrew Strathern

Ritual sequences in Highlands Papua New Guinea were geared to perceptions of ecological change and efforts to restore the environment to a favorable state for well-being and fertility of land, people, and other animals. A contemporary project by one particular group aims to revive one such practice with a re-enactment performance, linked to studies of forest resources in the vicinity of the ritual site, which is located on a remote mountain corner in the Western Highlands Province among Melpa language speakers in the Hagen area.

10:30 – 11:30 (including 15 min. discussion)

Climate Change Initiatives in Highlands Papua New Guinea

Andrew J. Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart (Strathern)

Awareness of climate change issues is growing apace in Papua New Guinea and in the Pacific generally. Local people are also acutely aware of environmental alterations around them in terms of plants, wiflie, and their own practices. An event run by a visiting government committee, held in Mount Hagen in July 2019 highlighted national and local concerns, and introduced into the discussion the topics of mitigation and adaptation as ways for locals to think about dealing with the challenges of climate change.

11:30 – 13:00 Lunch

13:00 – 14:00 (including 15 min. discussion)

Sabah’s Land Use Policy: “Men of the Forest” Hanging in the Borders of Dueling Economies—Palm Oil and Logging Versus Ecotourism

Jeanne Marie Stumpf-Carome

In 2008, Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre, in Sabah, Malaysia, on Borneo is where my ecotourism interests began. Logging threatened the forest habitat in Sabah. Guides pointed out the palm oil plantations encroaching on the rain forest. Then and now, competing economic streams and land use policies shape the destiny of all forest “men,” non-human primate and human.  Some ten years later, this update describes and analyzes the plight of depleted populations of orangutans, shifts in land use and land rights, and changing social and economic conditions of the population.  A 2013, satellite study, revealed that “Only small areas of intact forest remain in Malaysian Borneo, because so much has been heavily logged or cleared for timber or oil palm production.” (Yeo 2013)  Furthermore, a conservative estimate at that time was that “…only about 22% of the land area of Malaysian Borneo is still covered by forests that have not been logged.” (Yeo 2013)  Wood processing mills declined with the decline of the wood supply. However, in 2016 total forest revenue was 7% of the Sabah’s total revenue.  (  Palm oil is now the leading vegetable oil crop in the world.  Malaysia is the second-largest grower of palm oil in the world and Sabah is the top palm oil state in Malaysia. Palm oil’s advantages are many, as it is cheap to produce due to its exceptional productivity, requires less labor, less production input, and is “naturally hydrogenated and structurally stable at ambient temperatures.” (The 2019)  However, the commercial lifespan of an oil palm tree is approximately 25 years. (Gbadebo-Smith)  In 2018, China was the second highest palm oil importer purchasing 10.8% of the market:  Malaysia was its second highest supplier. (Workman 2019)  In 2018, China was Malaysia’s second biggest importer of palm oil and palm-oil based products. (Zakariah 2019)  Monocultures, like oil palm plantations, reduce the varied forest environment required by orangutans. The WWF verified: “At least 650 orangutans were lost in protected areas of Sabah’s eastern lowlands between 2002 and 2017.”  However, “the overall population of orangutans in Sabah remained steady at around 11,000.”  (Chow 2019)  Malaysian tourist receipts continue to climb since 1998.  Niche tourism products highlight “birding,” and mention of Sepilok is buried deep in the Malaysia Travel website. Discussed in detail is this mélange of forces in processes of “natural selection” for and against survival of orangutans and people, all the “men of the forest.”

14:00 – 15:00 (including 15 min. discussion)

Social and Environmental Impacts of Market Production on Taumoko, Solomon Islands

Rick Feinberg

This paper examines on Taumako, a remote Polynesian community in the Solomon Islands’ Temotu Province. It is almost 200 kilometers from the nearest population center and, even in the 21st Century, its people are largely dependent on subsistence production. Yet, the Taumako have long been involved in a complex system of inter-island trade and, decades ago as part of the British Solomon Islands Protectorate, they were drawn into the world system. The products islanders export today, particularly bêche-de-mer and shark fins, are primarily destined for the Chinese market, and most small businesses in the Solomons, which often serve as middlemen in commercial exchanges, are owned by Chinese immigrants; hence the Sinofon connection. Here I will focus first on Taumako subsistence practices, both terrestrial and maritime. I then will turn to commercially-oriented production and assess the market economy’s social and environmental consequences.

15:00 – 15:15 Coffee break

15:15 – 16:15 (including 15 min. discussion)

Tree Kangaroo, Coffee and Community Development: an Example from Papua New Guinea

Martin Soukup

The objective of this article is an analysis of ethnohistory of establishment of YUS conservation area in Papua New Guinea. Particular attention will be devoted to the natives’ attitudes and expectations toward and from YUS conservation area. YUS conservation area has been established in 2009. Under the YUS CA umbrella is running Tree Kangaroo Conservation Program. The native groups living on the YUS CA land agreed to narrow their hunting zone and to limit using natural resources from protected zones and is successfully running for ten years. Conservationists promised them development of communities. Author argues that the natives dream for the kind of development, which is in a stark contrast to the conservators’ ideas of biodiversity protection.

11th October

9:00 – 9:30 Tea and coffee

9:30 – 11:30 Round table