Relational values with nature: the Jalai Daya in Kalimantan, Indonesia

John Bamba[i]

Among the Jalai Daya in Kalimantan, Indonesia, an ideal life can be achieved through living in accordance with the following cultural values:

  • Sustainability (biodiversity) versus productivity (monoculture)
  • Collectivity (co-operation) versus individuality (competition)
  • Naturality (organic) versus engineered (inorganic)
  • Spirituality (rituality) versus rationality (scientific)
  • Process (effectiveness) versus result (efficiency)
  • Subsistence (domesticity) versus commerciality (market)
  • Customary law (locality) versus state law (global).

Failure to achieve these ideals is believed to result in barau (a situation when nature fails to function normally, resulting in chaos). Barau comes about as a result of transgression of adat (customary practice), when the relationship with nature is broken.

[i] For further information on this case, please see: Bamba, J. (2003). ‘“Seven Fortunes vs. Seven Calamities:” Cultural Poverty from an Indigenous Perspective’. In Indigenous Affairs 1/03 – Indigenous Poverty: An issue of rights and needs. Copenhagen: International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs.

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