The Banana Tree at the Gate

The Banana Tree at the Gate

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The qHikayat Banjar, q a seventeenth-century native court chronicle from Southeast Borneo, characterizes the irresistibility of natural resource wealth to outsiders as qthe banana tree at the gate.q Michael R. Dove employs this phrase as a root metaphor to frame the history of resource relations between the indigenous peoples of Borneo and the world system, standing on its head the prevailing view of resource-poor and economically marginal tropical forest dwellers. In analyzing production and trade in forest products, pepper, and especially natural rubber, Dove shows that the involvement of Borneo's native peoples in commodity production for global markets is ancient and highly successful. This success is based on the development of a qdualq household economy, with distinct subsistence- and market-oriented sectors, which has historically made these qsmallholdersq extremely competitive with the large-scale, heavily capitalized, state-supported plantation sector. Dove sheds new light on the nature of smallholders and in particular their relationship with the global economic system. He demonstrates that processes of globalization began millennia ago and that they have been more diverse and less teleological than often thought. His analysis replaces the image of the isolated tropical forest community that needs to be helped into the global system with the reality of communities that have been so successful and competitive that they have had to fight political elites to keep from being forced out. The ubiquitous but historically inaccurate emphasis on isolation and resource-poverty disguises that the overweening characteristic of these communities is their political marginality and that their greatest want is not to be uplifted economically but to be empowered politically.The aquot;Hikayat Banjar, aquot; a seventeenth-century native court chronicle from Southeast Borneo, characterizes the irresistibility of natural resource wealth to outsiders as aquot;the banana tree at the gate.


Title:The Banana Tree at the Gate
Author: Michael Dove
Publisher:Yale University Press - 2011-01
ISBN-13:

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