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Stories of History from a Borneo Longhouse: Genre and Method
23 February, 2021 @ 8:30 PM – 10:00 PM UTC+0
Speaker: Dr. Valerie Mashman
Commentator: Prof. Diana Wong
Register at: http://bit.ly/PSRWebinar22021
Platform: Zoom and Facebook Live
I was given by chance three historical narratives on cassette to listen to while visiting my husband’s longhouse at the edge of the Kelabit highlands in 2010. I wasn’t looking for a subject to research or a reason to do a PhD. A moment of sheer serendipity led to these narratives which the headman-narrator calls cerita-sejarah to become the focus of a PhD and later a book. In this session I will talk about the methods I use to deal with this genre of oral histories, setting them in a wider Austronesian context, looking at characteristics of the genre, and using anthropology as a way to deal with anomalies and the meanings of the narrator.
Valerie Mashman is currently an associate research fellow at the Institute of Borneo Studies, University Malaysia Sarawak researching social memories attached to the forts of the upper Baram River. She was a research fellow at the Sarawak Museum Campus and Heritage Trail project from 2017-8, looking at material culture in museums from the era of peace-making. Her research interests in the field of anthropology examine issues of oral history and narratives, values and social change, indigeneity, gender and material culture with a particular focus on indigenous peoples of Borneo. She has contributed chapters to Borneo Studies in History, Society and Culture (2017), Shifting Cultivation and Environmental Change: Indigenous People, Agriculture and Forest Conservation (2015), Advances in Research on Linguistic and Cultural Practices in Borneo (2014), Plaited Arts from the Borneo Rainforest (2012), Female and Male in Borneo (1991), The Sarawak Museum Journal and The Borneo Research Bulletin. She also co-edited with Lucas Chin, Sarawak Cultural Legacy (1991).