Staging Indigenous Heritage: Instrumentalisation, Brokerage and Representation in Malaysia, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Staging Indigenous Heritage

Instrumentalisation, Brokerage and Representation in Malaysia, 1st Edition

By Yunci Cai


264 pages | 28 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9780367148546
pub: 2020-08-13
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Staging Indigenous Heritage examines the cultural politics of four Indigenous cultural villages in Malaysia. Cai demonstrates how they are often beset with the politics of brokerage and representation that reinforce a culture of dependency on the brokers, marginalising their intended beneficiaries.

By critically examining the relationship between Indigenous tourism and development through the establishment of Indigenous cultural villages, the book addresses the complexities of adopting the ‘culture for development’ paradigm as a developmental strategy. Demonstrating that the opportunities for self-representation and self-determination can become entwined with the politics of brokerage and the contradictory dualism of culture, the book shows how this can both facilitate and compromise their intended outcomes. Challenging the simplistic conceptualisation of Indigenous communities as harmonious and unified wholes, Cai shows how Indigenous cultures are actively forged, struggled over and negotiated in contemporary Malaysia. 

Confronting the largely positive rhetoric in current discourses on the benefits of community-based cultural projects, Staging Indigenous Heritage should be essential reading for academics and students in the fields of museum studies, cultural heritage studies, Indigenous studies, development studies, tourism, anthropology and geography. The book should also interest museum and heritage professionals around the world.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: Historicising Indigeneity in Malaysia

Chapter 3: Capacity-building as a Contemporary Colonial Civilising Mission

Chapter 4: Indigeneity as an Intractable Double-bind

Chapter 5: Appropriation, Reinvention and Contestation of Indigenous Heritage

Chapter 6: The Big Man as Arbitrator of Heritage

Chapter 7: Conclusion

About the Author

Yunci Cai is Lecturer in Museum Studies and Co-Director of the MA/MSc in Heritage and Interpretation (distance learning) programme at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Culture and Development

There is a burgeoning interest among academics, practitioners and policy-makers in the relationships between ‘culture’ and ‘development’. This embraces the now well-recognized need to adopt culturally-sensitive approaches in development practice, the necessity of understanding the cultural dimensions of development, and more specifically the role of culture for development. Culture, in all its dimensions, is a fundamental component of sustainable development, and throughout the world we are seeing an increasing number of governmental and non-governmental agencies turning to culture as a vehicle for economic growth, for promoting social cohesion, stability and human well-being, and for tackling environmental issues. At the same time, there has been remarkably little critical debate around this relationship, and even less concerned with the interventions of cultural institutions or creative industries in development agendas. The objective of the Routledge Studies in Culture and Development series is to fill this lacuna and provide a forum for reaching across academic, practitioner and policymaker audiences.

The series editors welcome submissions for single- and jointly-authored books and edited collections concerning issues such as: the contribution of museums, heritage and cultural tourism to sustainable development; the politics of cultural diplomacy; cultural pluralism and human rights; traditional systems of environmental management; cultural industries and traditional livelihoods; and culturally-appropriate forms of conflict resolution and post-conflict recovery.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Library & Information Science / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Indigenous Studies