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  • Cited by 5
  • Print publication year: 2002
  • Online publication date: September 2009

10 - Economic specialization and inter-ethnic trade between foragers and farmers in the prehispanic Philippines



Ethnohistoric research and archaeological investigations indicate that, at the time of European contact, the coastlines and large interior river valleys of the Philippines were occupied by numerous small-scale chiefdoms supported by intensive rice production and maritime trading (Hutterer 1977a; Jocano 1975; Junker 1990b; Scott 1994). The adjacent lowlands and upland areas were inhabited by an amalgam of ethnically and linguistically distinct groups ranging from small bands of hunter-gatherers to tribally organized swidden agriculturalists and emergent ranked societies practicing intensive agriculture. While these groups occupied distinct ecological zones, pursued varying economic strategies, and were characterized by different levels of sociopolitical complexity, they were integrated through extensive interactive trade networks involving specialized production and exchange of both utilitarian and non-utilitarian resources (Hutterer 1974, 1976). The significant ecological diversity and geographic fragmentation characterizing island Southeast Asia appear to have engendered in many regions economies dependent upon specialization and intensive inter-ethnic exchange relations between tropical forest foragers, tribal swiddening populations, and chiefdoms or kingdoms focused on maritime trade and intensive rice production (Hall 1992). The historic period configurations of such inter-ethnic trade systems in the Philippines and elsewhere have been well documented through early texts associated with literate kingdoms of late first millennium AD and early second millennium AD Southeast Asia, Chinese trade records, and later European histories (e.g. Hall 1985:1–20, 1992:257–9; Miksic 1984; Wolters 1971:13–14).