Place as a Countermonument: The Case for the Penan Community in Malaysia

This dilemma allows for the idea of countermounment (as a provocative proposal) to create a dynamic relationship between the state and society. In this case, it allows the Penan community to exercise political authority in requesting a substantial amount of public land as long as they can argue in the functional system (legal system). Here, they should transform representation into event (Jeffrey C. Alexander 2012), memory into history (Pierre Nora 1989), oral culture into written culture, and presence culture into meaning culture (Gumbrecht 2004). In this regard, they have something to argue for the claim of self-determination. It would make them easier to define its territory through this transformation since they have faced the disappearance of stable ground for many decades.


Thirdmemory: Drawing a Distinction in Memory-making

Basically, the concept of “distinction” is not foreign to sociology. In the context of social system theory, the concept of distinction is used by Niklas Luhmann to distinguish between the system and the environment, also between the codes applied in every social system. Similarly, Jeffrey C. Alexander & Bernhard Giesen (1987) divides between micro-sociology and macro-sociology. However, the most famous distinction in sociology is structure and agency. Here, the structure is the recurrent patterned arrangements that influence or limit the choices and opportunities available, whereas agency is the capacity of individuals to act independently and to make their own free choices. With this in mind, we can say that the use of the concept of distinction in social and cultural studies is not new.

Penan’s Cultural Trauma

The community map has provided a counter-narrative, and displays a historical continuity for the Penan community, whereas the PPP is the location for the politics of space in asserting the Penan’s historical discontinuity by facing deforestation. If we take time and space as a carrier of meaning, therefore the Penan community beautifully reflects the dimension of time and space via the map and the park. This is a way for the Penan community to recuperate from the cultural trauma of deforestation. Imaginatively, they have taken deforestation to another level; by doing an active remembering. In other words, they simply refuse to forget.