Jeyamalar Kathirithamby-Wells, born in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1938. Ph.D. from London University. Life Member-in-Residence at Clare Hall, Cambridge University.
Fellow (1 September 1995 – 30 June 1996)
My time at NIAS was spent researching and writing on the impact of the spectacular economic and political changes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries on the forest of Peninsular Malaysia. Accelerated immigration and capital investment, triggered by the opportunities for cash-cropping and mining and, soon, an expanding rubber planting industry, resulted in the rampant clearance of primary forests by entrepreneurial communities. The laissez faire British colonial policy put few restraints on the frontier mentality.
The book I am writing entitled, “Community and Forest in Peninsular Malaya: from the Pre Colonial to the Modern Era”, focuses on the impact of these developments on the fragile equatorial environment and the underlying tension between production and protection. Though colonial science and the movement for environmental protection succeeded to some measure in addressing environmental issues, the profit motive remained predominant and has seen little change in the post-colonial era. In addition to completing a major part of the draft chapters for the projected book, seminar, workshop and conference papers on various aspects of my research were presented in the Netherlands and abroad.