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Looking for Money
Capitalism and Modernity in an Orang Asli Village
by Albert Gomes

This book provides an illustration of the impact of capitalism and modernity on an indigenous people, the Semai of Malaysia. It documents in considerable ethnographic detail the extent of involvement of the Semai in commodity production and wage labour and the effects of these economic pursuits (referred to by the people as ‘looking-for-money’ work) on their social and cultural lives. In the process, the study challenges the prevailing view of the Semai as subsistence-oriented people with weak links to the market economy and stresses the fact that development for the people must be based on correct conceptions of the economy of the people for it to succeed in improving the living standards of the beneficiaries.

While the fieldwork was conducted about twenty years ago, the findings, analyses and issues presented are still highly relevant today and an introduction and a postscript to the original work provide an update to the theoretical and empirical aspects of the study.

Table of contents
The Setting
Production time allocation
Production output and income
Market relations
The impact of commoditisation on social relations
The future of the Tapah Semai

Published by Trans Pacific Press
in cooperation with the Center for Orang Asli Concerns, Malaysia
Publ. 2004, 236 pp.
ISBN 983 40042 5 7, paperback, £11.99