1st Edition

Staging Indigenous Heritage Instrumentalisation, Brokerage, and Representation in Malaysia

By Yunci Cai Copyright 2021
    244 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    244 Pages 28 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Staging Indigenous Heritage examines the cultural politics of four Indigenous cultural villages in Malaysia. Demonstrating that such villages are often beset with the politics of brokerage and representation, the book shows that this reinforces a culture of dependency on the brokers.

    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, it becomes clear that this can both facilitate and compromise their intended outcomes. Challenging the simplistic conceptualisation of Indigenous communities as harmonious and unified wholes, the book 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 be of interest to museum and heritage professionals around the world.

    Chapter 1: Introduction

    Chapter 2: Historicising Indigeneity in Malaysia

    Chapter 3: Capacity-building as a modern 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


    Yunci Cai is Lecturer in Museum Studies and Co-Director of the MA/MSc in the Heritage and Interpretation (Distance Learning) programme at the University of Leicester, UK. She is a critical heritage and museum studies scholar, specialising in the cultural politics and museologies in and of Asia.

    "Staging Indigenous Heritage is filled with detailed ethnographic notes on various rituals and cultural practices within the four case studies that will be of interest to scholars interested in learning more about the dynamics within indigenous community groups in Malaysia. It also serves to inform future Asia development studies projects on the issues on the brokerage system." --Roslynn Ang,  Independent scholar, Singapore