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Staging Indigenous Cultural Heritage in Malaysia: Instrumentalisation, Brokerage, Representation

Cai, Yunci; (2017) Staging Indigenous Cultural Heritage in Malaysia: Instrumentalisation, Brokerage, Representation. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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This thesis examines the politics of heritage-making in Malaysia, focusing on the development of indigenous cultural villages, which have become increasingly prevalent in both West and East Malaysia. Based on ethnographic field research at four case study cultural villages – the Mah Meri Cultural Village and Orang Seletar Cultural Centre in Peninsular Malaysia, and the Monsopiad Cultural Village and Linangkit Cultural Village in East Malaysia, it explores the political, economic, and social dynamics surrounding the process of heritage-making at these four indigenous cultural villages, and considers the outcomes of the instrumentalisation. Drawing on the politics of instrumentalisation as a conceptual framework and expanding it to incorporate other dynamics relating to brokerage, staging and representation, it demonstrates how these indigenous cultural villages are beset with issues of brokerage, tensions over the representation of cultural heritage, and conflicting motivations over the instrumentalisation of the cultural heritage, in which politics of brokerage and representation dominated, reproducing structural inequalities that reinforce the dependency of indigenous communities on external and internal brokers rather build capacity for self-determination and empowerment. The cynical interpretation that indigenous cultural practices have been instrumentalised to serve certain economic, political, and social agendas is then complicated through an exploration of several counter-narratives and anti-discourses, particularly how cultural practices have also been performed for ritual efficacy and for more altruistic interests of indigenous people. This thesis makes an original contribution to indigenous museology by challenging the simplistic conceptualisation of indigenous communities as harmonious and unified wholes, and opens up the complexities for adopting the ‘culture for development’ as a developmental strategy, such that the opportunities for self-representation and self-determination can become dominated by the politics of brokerage, which can in turn facilitate or compromise their intended outcomes.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Staging Indigenous Cultural Heritage in Malaysia: Instrumentalisation, Brokerage, Representation
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Keywords: Indigenous Cultural Villages, Malaysia, Brokerage, Politics of Heritage Instrumentalisation, Indigenous Heritage
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10037973
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