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Rice-Eating Rubber and People-Eating Governments: Peasant versus State Critiques of Rubber Development in Colonial Borneo

Michael R. Dove
Ethnohistory
Vol. 43, No. 1 (Winter, 1996), pp. 33-63
Published by: Duke University Press
DOI: 10.2307/483343
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/483343
Page Count: 31
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Rice-Eating Rubber and People-Eating Governments: Peasant versus State Critiques of Rubber Development in Colonial Borneo
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Abstract

Two remarkable events took place in the 1930s in Borneo: a myth spread among the tribal societies of the interior, warning them that the introduced Para rubber tree was hostile to their swidden rice; and the International Rubber Regulation Agreement was established, in an attempt to protect plantation rubber production by restricting smallholder production through export duties and other measures. A comparative analysis of these two interlinked events makes the tribal dream look less fantastic and the international regulation look less rational than they otherwise do. This analysis contributes to current debates about the peasant tendency to differentiate the production of food crops and cash crops, the scholarly failure to link local and global histories, and the anthropological failure to integrate symbolic and political-economic studies.

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