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Utafor folkeskikken – stedet der andre bor, eller ”Wenn jemand eine Reise tut …”

IRMELIN MARTENS Martens, I. 2007: At the back of beyond – a place where other people live, or “When jemand eine Reise tut …"

In a paper from 1998 I concluded that the inhabitants of the marginal areas were not just the passive recipients of influences seeping slowly in from the central areas, which is the role these poor, isolated people so often have been allotted by Norwegian cultural historians. I even expressed the view that this is a general phenomenon; that populations in marginal areas felt the need to share in the values and practices of the larger society.

This paper is based on my own travels as a tourist in Bhutan and Morocco, supplemented by limited studies of literature describing modern conditions. Some examples are given of settlement and agricultural practices and other resource utilizations in the mountainous areas of these two countries. I fully agree with von Fürer-Haimendorf (1975) in his statement on Nepal:”A self-contained peasant economy based on agriculture and animal husbandry could not be sustained by the natural resources of valleys lying above 10.000 feet, and even below that level larger concentrations of populations could grow only where the income of trade supplement the yield of subsistence farming”. People in such areas were, as all other people dependent on skilled craftsmen of different kinds, like blacksmiths and carpenters.

Animal husbandry is very important in marginal areas. Surplus production from this activity is only one out of many different ways to obtain commodities for exchange. In return, the population there not only got necessities like grain, wool and salt, but even luxuries like silk, precious metals and jewellery, which were used as ethnic markers, for religious purposes and to mark their participation in common cultural values and to demonstrate their own cultural abilities.

Irmelin Martens, professor emeritus, Kulturhistorisk Museum, Universitetet i Oslo, P.O. Box 6762 St. Olafs plass, N-0130 Oslo, Norway. Telephone: (+47) 22851940. E-mail: irmelin.martens@khm.uio.no
Private address: Geologsvingen 67A, N-0380 Oslo, Norway.
Key words: Marginal settlement, resource utilization, goods exchange, cultural values

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