»Events»The Known and the Unknown: Sensing Others in the Batek's Forest, Malaysia
The Known and the Unknown: Sensing Others in the Batek's Forest, Malaysia
Hunter-gatherers are often portrayed as being ‘closer to nature’. Challenging this simplistic narrative, this talk explores how Batek people in Pahang speak about more-than-human agency and intentionality within their forest. Through speaking about non-human Others, Batek reinforce an ethical stance in which one is attuned to a diverse more-than-human community. Yet far from being a harmonious form of ‘closeness’, this attunement is characterized by unknowability: the intentions of Others can never be fully understood. Unknowability becomes a part of relationality, with implications both for how personhood is produced by the Batek, and for how anthropologists might speak about multispecies interactions.