Understanding gender dynamics in the context of rural transformation processes: An East Kalimantan case study

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This study set out to illustrate and understand how the ongoing processes of rural transformation are influencing women’s and men’s labor, and broader gender relations among the Kenyah. It examines the changes that have occurred in two Uma’ Jalan Kenyah villages in East Kalimantan – based on previous longterm ethnographic research (beginning in 1979 and continuing periodically until 2004), ending with a Rapid Rural Appraisal visit in 2019. Various development efforts have altered these peoples’ environment, from dense tropical rainforest in the 1970s, through extensive forest loss due successively to logging, industrial timber plantations and transmigration. Most recently oil palm plantations have flourished over much of the province (including the two study communities), prompting radical changes to people’s agricultural practices. Here, we examine the implications of these changes for men’s and women’s lives, roles and interactions. The most surprising finding is the continuation of comparatively equitable gender dynamics among the Kenyah. This is in the face of narratives and policies – from education, government, business and religion – with seriously marginalizing gender implications, to which the people are increasingly exposed.
Authors: Colfer, C.J.P.; Ihalainen, M.; Monterroso, I.
Subjects: gender, gender relation, rural community, community forestry, rural development, forest management
Publication type: Paper-R, Publication
Year: 2020

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