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Ref ID: 22588
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: Kerlogue, Fiona
Title: Food and the family: assimilation in a Malay village
Date: 2007
Source: Kinship and food in South East Asia
Place of Publication: Copenhagen, Denmark
Publisher: NIAS
Notes: Introduction: Studies of patterns of classification, production, and consumption of food in Southeast Asia can offer new insights into notions of relatedness, which may or may not correspond to those revealed by conventional analyses of kinship. This chapter aims to explore how concepts which inform such notions of relatedness are manifested in practices relating to food and other sunstances consumed amongst the Malay population of a village in Jambi, central Sumatra. The flexible way in which kinship terms are used and the fluidity of the boundaries of notions of kinship are linked to ideas about the constitution of the human body and how the consumption and sharing of food relate to this. The lack of rigidity in such classifications further relates to ideas of belonging at a wider level, in terms of community relationships and ethnic identity. My fieldwork was based in the village of Olak Kemang, one of eleven <i>kelurahan</i> strung out along the north bank of the Batanghari River opposite the administrative capital of Jambi province, the city of Jambi. these eleven villages are collectively known as Seberang. Data was collected between 1995 and 2000, largely in Olak Kemang village itself, but also from the neighbouring villages of Ulu Gedong and Kelurahan Tengah, which until recently were part of the same village unit. The circumstances described in this chapter are those found in these three villages, for which the term 'central Seberang' is used. The villages of Seberang have long been sites of settlement for immigrants to the area. Archaeological finds of Chinese ceramics suggest links with China dating back to the Sung dynasty, and that connections with India date back to the end of the first millennium is suggested by sculptured artefacts found in the area and a range of other sources (Abu Ridho 1995: 204, Suleiman 1976: 3
Nilakanta Sastri 1949: 84). Dutch and English traders established their factories in Seberang in the seventeenth century, and the Chinese settlement which grew up around them gave the district the name of 'Petjinan' the Chinese quarter, a name which was retained until the 1930s even though most of the Chinese had left by 1700 (Andaya 1993: 129). In the early nineteenth century an English official, Lt. Crooke, described the town of Jami as extending for three quarters of a mile along both banks of the river, 'the natives occupying the whole of the right [south] bank
and the few Arabs and other strangers who are settle there, a part of the left' (Anderson [1826] 1971: 394). In 1858 the Dutch East Indies army captured the palace on the south bank, demolished it and built their fort there. Seberang became a site of mediation, where Arab nobles met and negotiated with the Dutch on behalf of the sultan, who had fled upstream. As the Dutch consolidated their position on the south bank, and Chinese settlers moved in to benefit from trading opportunities, Malays took refuge on the north side, so that what was once the immigrant quarter became the home of indigenous Malays. Today the population of the eight upstream villages of Seberang, of which Olak Kemang is one, is made up for the most part of people who describe themselves as Melayu (Malays), while the downstram villagers are predominately Arab Melayu (Malay Arabs). However, there are also residents of Javanese origin, some recent immigrants and other descendents of past immigrants, as well as villagers originating from Palembang, in South Sumatra, and others from Sulawesi and elsewhere. There has been much intermarriage, and most local Malays are to some extent of mixed descent. In this context, where members of today's population may be descended from ancestors having a range or mixture of different ethnic origins, with differing claims over land and cultural heritage, the question of who belongs, who is a local person, is hard to answer. A person may be described as '<i>orang sini</i>' (a person from here)
'<i>orang Jambi</i>' (a Jambi person), or '<i>orang kita</i>' (one of us). the boundaries of these categories are unclear and to some extent reflect a similar ambiguity in relation to the definition of kin.
Date Created: 4/9/2015
Editors: Janowski, Monica
Kerlogue, Fiona
Volume: 38
Page Start: 54
Page End: 70
Series Title: NIAS Studies in Asian Topics