Borderlands – Exploring Commonalities and Overcoming Challenges in Sarawak


Today there still exist many borders which hamper transit and crossings for many others. Case in point is the border between Sarawak and Kalimantan, a border whose crossing requires documentation for many a potential traveller. In this regard it is helpful to remember that most national borders are different from natural borders. National borders are inherited borders, but always constructed - not given - under certain historic conditions and with specific agendas in mind - economic, political, cultural. All of these are constituted by specific narratives. And it is the creation of narratives then which constitute oral history or an oral tradition. Such oral heritage is especially important when there exists a cultural setting where much history and knowledge is traded down in oral form only, as is the case with Sarawak and Kalimantan. The presentation will pay special heed to their shared border, one such inherited border, imposed on the people living along it by foreign powers with specific colonial and economic agendas. And while these powers have long left, the border has remained. The narratives created and analysed create counter-narratives to repeated official histories expounded on both sides of its border.My presentation will analyse this border using oral history methodology as a tool. As such, oral history is useful in a plenitude of circumstances and can and has been used by media workers, people interested in oral heritage, ethnographers, anthropologists, local historians, government officials and other interested parties. Specific tools of the project will be introduced and analysed (e.g. an analysis of how to conduct oral history projects at specific locations, how to best interview people, what kind of media to use (for instance, smart phones, cameras, dictaphones etc.) and how to conceptualise such projects as exercises in trans-border understanding).

Author Information
Holger Briel, Xi'An Jiaotong Liverpool University, China

Paper Information
Conference: ACCS2014
Stream: Cultural Studies

This paper is part of the ACCS2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Liverpool University H. (2014) Borderlands – Exploring Commonalities and Overcoming Challenges in Sarawak ISSN: 2187-4751 – The Asian Conference on Cultural Studies 2014 – Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon