Hunter Gatherer Research

Batek playing Batek for tourists at Peninsular Malaysia’s national park

Hunter Gatherer Research (2016), 2, (1), 97–121.

Abstract

The Batek are a foraging-trading people living in and around Peninsular malaysia’s largest national park, taman Negara. In recent years some of their semi-permanent camps near the park headquarters at Kuala tahan have become tourist attractions. Batek residents allow groups of malaysian and foreign tourists to visit, and they demonstrate some of their specialised skills, including shooting blowpipes and making fire with rattan vines and dry wood, as well as selling handicrafts. In this article we examine the reasons why some Batek participate in the tourist business, how they integrate it into their overall economy, and how they preserve their distinctive cultural values and practices while offering a simplified picture of their culture to curious outsiders.

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