Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Get me off this rock!

Get me off this rock | 1
Boy perches on rock, holds out his arms for a lift back to the lean-to...
Get me off this rock | 2
It is granted, but not without motherly grumbles. He can walk, after all.

I've been observing Batek children a lot for a paper on social learning, based initially on stuff I did for my doctoral work so many years ago, now being confirmed and updated. It's been great to see all the classic behaviour patterns still going strong... including parental patience with childish demands on their time (and back).

I've known naʔDaduʔ since—as she and her sisters stressed repeatedly—we were young together. The first time I met the boy last week, he was fussing over something or other. "Whose child is that?" I asked. "It's my son—he's horrible," she replied. "Is he now?" I replied with scholarly interest. "Come over here so I can see whether you're good or bad." She repeated my words to the boy. He considered this proposition warily for a moment, then looked at his mother and released a big wide grin that reminded me of his mother, grandmother, and grandfather all at once.

After another bout of childish tantrum I suggested that we sell him to the tourists. "If they will have him," his aunt naʔTəkuʔ replied seriously. "Who knows, he may be so bad that tourists wouldn't want him." He heard us, but paid no attention.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

In a rainforest camp

Stills captured from video clips:
A patch of sun
A glimpse of the sky: Batek camp along the Ruwil river, Taman Negara national park, 15/3/14

 Inside a child's toy house
Inside a little girl's toy lean-to, but the "bed" is not big enough for parties. Truly a scaled down model of a grown-up lean-to. Excellent copy of construction details.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Ruwil camp, Taman Negara

The camp at Ruwil, Taman Negara. A lovely location, near where I camped with the same group in 1996.

My gang. The youngest wasn't even born when I met this cohort for the first time in 2010. Now she's surging past her Terrible Twos and entering her Chattering Threes. This being my first evening back with them, they gathered round in a circle and whispered their secrets into my ears. I thought it was quite sweet.

The littlest Batek | 3

B2014-0113 Now 14 months old, and growing fast. "She recognises her parents' voices but can't really talk yet," said her mother. It won't be long now. She clearly understands a lot more than she lets on.  Previously shown here and here.

From boy to man

B1998 02-08Mother and son in 1998 (left) and in 2014 (sharing a joke in the background, below). He's shot up like a weed in the last year or so.


Saturday, 7 December 2013

Looking back at 2013...

One photo from each month of the year (if it exists)...

The ways of Kuala Yong | 4January: the year started with a return to the Batek.

Weaving: splitting rattan February: a revisit to some Western Penan friends. Sayen is splitting rattan, an essential task before weaving.

SEA303 George Town field trip | 3
March: busy. The new semester had started. I kicked off my "Societies & Cultures of Southeast Asia" class with a walking tour of George Town. Subsequently the students did their own field observations of the core heritage zone for their term papers.

Aliran public forum, Ipoh
April: with GE13 (the 13th General Elections) just around the corner, there was A LOT of activity in the "public sphere." This was shot at an Aliran public forum in Ipoh.

Election fever comes to George Town
May: Election fever comes to George Town.

June: end of the teaching semester. Lots of meetings and conferences. Believe me, you don't want to see those photos.

Lisbon | 1
July: a rapid appraisal of academic settings in Europe. This was shot in Lisbon.

The final customers
August: back in Penang, the Vincent Hairdressing Saloon closed down after decades of providing old-style hair-cutting & grooming services to (male) customers in George Town. A few of us gathered to bid farewell to the ladies working there, the oldest of whom is in her '80s.

September: passed in a blur. No photography the whole month!

October: there is time for sunset appreciation. From my living room, that is. This may be the last sunset I remember for this year. Recent weeks have been wretched, alternating between clouds and rain. Very faint sunsets.

November: back with Batek, briefly.

December: grading, grading, grading!

Monday, 2 December 2013

New publication: Making friends in the rainforest

From: Human Biology Special issue on Revisiting the 'Negrito' Hypothesis (editor Phillip Endicott)

Lye Tuck-Po. 2013. Making friends in the rainforest: “Negrito” adaptation to risk and uncertainty. Human Biology 85 (1–3):417–444.

Download here or here.

Friday, 29 November 2013

The littlest Batek | 2

B2013-1227Previously poked, prodded, and photographed here. Born 2nd January 2013, so is just over eleven months old in this photo. Of course, she's no longer "the" littlest Batek. How quickly they grow.

Mr. Cool

And off he went A stop, a twirl of the slingshot, a skip, and he was off. I love the dressing-up. Loads of pebbles in that sling.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Home from the field

It might have sounded like horrific excess from my previous post, but in the end, all the fieldwork kit made it into these bags (resting at the bus terminal). I left the apartment congratulating myself on making do with just the two camera bags. By the time I reached the ground floor, I realised I had forgotten one crucial item: my sleeping bag. So the shopping bag came along for the ride too.

Though the visit was brief, I collected an awful lot of data. Particularly interesting (inspired by linguist colleagues), I uncovered a set of "smell words": single-word terms denoting various kinds of odours, good and bad. I've only just begun this line of questioning and haven't even asked the hardcore hunters or older people yet. I'm sure I'll learn a few more words by the time I'm through. (To appreciate the significance of this, ask yourself how many common words labelling different types of smells you can think of in your own language.) Three of the terms were familiar standbys, but I was not previously aware of the others. Just goes to show what you can find if you know what to look for.

Now to find time for processing and analysis!

AwashedFor the moment, here are a couple of parent-child photos (mother and son; and father and daughter):

Father and daughterTo continue the theme of egalitarian parenthood, this young father had been away on a trip for a couple of weeks. After he returned, I saw him walking everywhere trailed by a baby or toddler, running chores with their "assistance" -- including discarding the children's faeces. I'm not detecting reluctance or distaste: not yet, anyway. Having known these young parents since they were children (or, in the case of the mother above, since they were born), I'm definitely pleased to see how they are reproducing classical ways of acting and relating with their own children.

On the to-do list: a paper on Batek social learning, deadline not too long from now.