Join the Asia Research Institute for this seminar with UoN ARI Deputy Director Professor Jeremy Taylor.
At the height of the Malayan Emergency (1948 to 1960), the British colonial state in Malaya introduced a policy of ‘resettlement’ with the aim of cutting off local support for the Malayan Communist Party in rural areas of the country. The policy involved the creation of over hundreds of resettlement camps – renamed ‘New Villages’ in 1952 – and the forced resettlement of almost half a million people into these new spaces.
Much of the academic literature on the New Villages has focused on the violence and control that was forced upon their inhabitants by the colonial state in the 1950s. Yet the New Villages have since developed into rural communities or suburbs around major towns and cities, and many of these communities are now examining their own pasts through oral history, literature, heritage and ‘cultural mapping’. The results of such efforts complicate narratives that are widely accepted in fields such as colonial history.
In November this year – and with the support of a FoA Impact Accelerator Award and ARI funding – Professor Jeremy Taylor visited Malaysia to examine the ways in which ICOMOS Malaysia (a heritage NGO) is working with local New Village communities to map out the historical significance of these spaces as heritage sites, as well as to examine the ‘state of the field’ with regards the study of the New Villages more broadly in Malaysia. This presentation focuses on Dr Taylor’s experiences observing the work of ICOMOS, and how the efforts of this group (and its community-based partners) intersects with his current work on the visual and cultural history of Emergency-era Malaya. Rather than being structured as a ‘standard’ academic presentation, the seminar will involve Professor Taylor reflecting on the challenges of linking scholarly research with public history and heritage projects in the Malaysian context.
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