Antonia Soriente is Associate Professor of Indonesian language and literature at the University of Naples ‘L’Orientale’, Italy. After studying in Indonesia and Malaysia, she worked for ten years at the Jakarta Field Station of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Her research interests centre around the documentation and description of the Kenyah and Punan languages of Borneo, the study of their oral traditions, bilingualism and language acquisition as well as Indonesian literature and culture. Antonia is Italian representative of EUROSEAS and coordinator of ITASEAS (Italian Southeast Asian studies) and Joint Researcher at ILCAA –TUFS (The Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia and Africa at Tokyo University of Foreign Studies). She has been involved in a number of international research projects and collaborates with Indonesian Universities.
Impact of 'development' in two Punan villages in Kalimantan-Indonesia
My research revolves around the lives of two groups of former hunter-gatherers, the Punan Semeriot and the Punan Dulau belonging to the same group, the Punan Bulusu' as they are defined in ethnolinguistic way. These former hunter-gatherers people, originally roaming in the forests in the upper part of the Bulusu' and Magong rivers in the Indonesian Province of Kaltara (North Kalimantan) have had a long tradition of contacts with the Bulusu' agriculturalists of Murutic origin. With this case study I intend to observe how much, and to what extent, the geographical closeness of these two Punan groups to the city, and to new means of generating economic growth, has changed the social structure and the lives of its inhabitants. In particular through an ethnographic study I intend to observe the attitudes of women and children in the two villages in relation to work, education and health. Women, in particular are a point of interest of research as they are the only inhabitants, together with the elderly people and the children, to be left in the village when men move to look for temporary jobs in a nearby logging company or in the informal sector elsewhere. Do they benefit from the fact their husbands have obtained a job? How have their lives improved? What are their future expectations?