Maritime ecocultures: Bajau communities of Eastern Indonesia

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The Bajau, also referred to as Bajo, Badjau or Sama, represent one of the most dispersed indigenous ethnolinguistic groups in south-east Asia (Sather, 1995). Originating in the southern Philippines, they are thought to have spread south and west to occupy coastal areas of north-east Borneo and eastern Indonesia by the time of European contact (Sopher, 1965; Nimmo, 1972). The Bajau are characterized by a history of maritime nomadism involving living aboard boats in extended family groups with no permanent settlement or land-based territoriality, thereby giving rise to the common, if potentially misleading, appellation ‘sea nomads’ (Sopher, 1965). However, various political and economic drivers since the colonial period have resulted in a process of sedentarisation, with very few Bajau retaining these original nomadic traditions. Contemporary Bajau communities present a continuum of lifestyles from the remaining boat dwellers to land based permanent communities with few remaining ties to the sea.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEcocultures: Blueprints for Sustainable Communities
EditorsSteffen Bohm, Zareen Pervez Bharucha, Jules Pretty
Place of PublicationUSA
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780203068472
ISBN (Print)9780415812856, 9780415812825
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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