Devolved, Diverse, Distinct? Hunter-Gatherer Research in Borneo

  • Lars KaskijaEmail author
Part of the Asia in Transition book series (AT, volume 4)


In this chapter, past and present research on Borneo hunter-gatherers is reviewed briefly, followed by a general discussion of the category referred to as the hunter-gatherers of Borneo, their presumed origin/s, their distinctiveness, or their inclusion in wider sociopolitical contexts. It is suggested that our descriptions, besides emphasising techno-economic factors, often emanate from rather simple dichotomies, where people and subsistence strategies are sorted into more or less ideal and homogenous types. Today, however, no simple picture of Borneo hunter-gatherers, past or present, can be put forward. Not only is our knowledge of hunter-gatherers in Borneo limited, it covers a very thin layer of time. Even though the huge data gap that exists between historic and prehistoric hunter-gatherers will never be bridged, present and future research in social or natural sciences (e.g. anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, palynology, paleobiology and genetics) will almost certainly generate an increasingly complex and ambiguous picture of Borneo hunter-gatherers, transcending any single grand theory and thereby reshaping and enriching our perception of the past, as well as the present.


Borneo Hunter-gatherers Social science Social transformation Subsistence system Punan 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden

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