Rain Forest Collectors and Traders

Monograph 5
Rain Forest Collectors and Traders: A Study of Resource Utilization in Modern and Ancient Malaya
By F.L. Dunn
159pp. Size: 180x250mm. Softcover

"Dunn's study is particularly welcome in providing considerable new information on the Temuan, one of the largest, and ethnographically previously most neglected, subgroupings of Proto-Malays. The author provides a wealth of new information on the Temuan interaction with their tropical rain forest environment, paying particular attention to their exploitation of forest resources, both for domestic use and for commercial trade in forest products, a trade which Dunn sees as a central element in the evolutionary development of all Orang Asli for thousands of years into the past. Unlike many specialist concerned with human ecology, Dunn avoids an exclusive concern with the flow of calories or protein between the Temuan and their forest ecosystem, and instead pays most of his attention to how their knowledge of forest ecology influences their adaptive successes. Such concerns with processes of information flow is often referred to as the study of ethnoecology...Dunn persuasively argues that the extremely complex nature of the Malaysian tropical rain forest demands that its human inhabitants develop and maintain an almost equally complex corpus of ecological knowledge.

To conclude, Dunn's monograph should be recognized as making a number of extremely significant contributions to our understanding of human ecology and evolution in Southeast Asia. It can be profitably read both by archaelogists concerned with Southeast Asian prehistory and by anthropologists concerned with contemporary Malaysian ethnology. Moreover, Dunn's pioneering work in ethnoecology merits the attention of all social scientists concerned with understanding the interaction of ideas and behaviour."

Terry Rambo, Asian Perspectives, XXIV (1), 1981

About the Author:
Frederick L. Dunn was born in 1928 into a family well grounded in the scientific tradition. His father was a well-known psychiatrist and among his extended family were to be found physicians and scientists. Dunn attended Harvard University as an undergraduate where he majored in anthropology, and began his studies at the Harvard Medical School in 1952. When he was still a medical student in 1955, Dunn participated in the American Himalayan Expedition in Pakistan as its team physician. This expedition marked Dunn’s first experience with communicable disease among the local population in a developing country. Following medical school graduation, Dunn completed postgraduate clinical training in Seattle through a program associated with the University of Washington. He then began a two-year tenure at the Center for Disease Control's (CDC) Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS), beginning in 1957, in Louisiana and East Pakistan. In 1960, Dunn enrolled in a course at the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and received a Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Through the course, Dunn met J. Ralph Audy from the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) who proceeded to recruit Dunn for UCSF. Dunn officially joined the UCSF's Department of Medicine in September of 1960 where he began to work in Audy’s tropical disease laboratory.

In 1962, Dunn traveled to Malaysia to work at the International Center for Medical Research and Training (ICMRT) programme. During the 1960s and 1970s Dunn spent over a total of seven years living, working, and researching infectious disease in Malaysia. His research included primate malaria, parasitic diseases among indigenous groups, in particular among the Orang Asli. It was during this period of his life that Dunn embarked on a dissertation upon which the present MBRAS monograph is based. Towards the end of his Malaysian stint, Dunn helped to form the US’ first medical anthropology program—a joint initiative between UCSF and University of California, Berkeley—in 1969. In 1973 Dunn completed his doctoral dissertation in anthropology at the University of Malaya. Dunn formally retired in 1993 at which point he had been serving as a faculty member in the UCSF-UCB joint medical anthropology program.

Dunn was a pioneer scholar-physician in the field of international health and anthropology in public health, formerly known as "tropical medicine,” who worked primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Southeast Asia. His research interests were issues of global health, behavioural research, medical anthropology, epidemiology, and infectious disease. Dunn advocated an interdisciplinary approach that has altered the course of research in global health. He was instrumental in identifying and promoting the importance of human behavioral research in understanding infectious disease. Dunn worked closely with the World Health Organization throughout his career, beginning in the 1960s, during which time he served as its physician-anthropologist consultant and was involved with identifying research and training needs in tropical disease. Dunn's research has been widely published from the 1950s through to the 1990s.


  1. Introduction
  2. Methods and Sources of Data
  3. Geographical Heterogeneity and Diversity in the Southern Malay Peninsula
  4. Present-day Biotic and Non-Biotic Resources in the Forest of the Malayan
  5. Protohistoric and Prehistoric Resources in the Forest of the Southern Malay Peninsula
  6. Ethnoecology
  7. Forest Product Collection and Trade in Modern Malaya
  8. Forest Product Collecting and Trade Between the 5th. and 19th. Centuries
  9. Prehistoric Forest Product Collecting and Trade
  10. A Concluding Summary
Literature Cited

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