Doing High-tech Collaborative Research in the Middle of Borneo:


  • Sarah Hitchner



Anthropology, Ethnography, Technology Transfer, Rural ICTs


This case study describes the experiences of an anthropologist currently conducting GIS-based ethnographic research in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak, Malaysia, using the e-Bario Telecentre as a local collaborating institution, a base for the input and storage of hard and soft copies of data and reports, and as a nexus for training community members to use GIS technology. Grounded in discussion of current collaborative research trends in the fields of anthropology and geography, this paper elaborates on the challenges and benefits of using the technology, facilities, and personnel currently available at the e-Bario Telecentre. It also describes how this current project is laying the foundation for a larger project that will be owned, managed, and used by the local community. This article elaborates on the social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental context in which this project is developing, demonstrating how this research project, and the transfer of technological knowledge that is a key component of it, can be both  beneficial and challenging to the Kelabit community. Finally, it offers suggestions for the improvement of e-Bario by suggesting both what e-Bario can do to better serve the needs of researchers in the Kelabit Highlands and what researchers can in turn do to assist e-Bario in meeting its goals to serve the community, visitors, and other researchers.