Indigenous interpretations and engagement of China's Belt and Road initiative in Peninsular Malaysia
Based on long-term ethnographic study of the Indigenous Mah Meri communities at Carey Island and Orang Seletar communities at Danga Bay, both in Peninsular Malaysia, I critically examine local interpretations and engagement of China-backed investments promoted under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Although these investments have encroached on their native customary territories and destroyed the natural environment which they depend on for their livelihoods, the Indigenous communities tend to perceive them as acts of land grabbing by the Malaysian political and economic elites, rather than a form of neo-imperialism by mainland Chinese firms. My study underscores the need to attend to Indigenous politics and alternative forms of imaginaries in understanding the impacts of China-backed investments. It complicates the dominant literature on the BRI by revealing more intricate nuances of the grounded realities, focusing on the perspectives of the Indigenous people, who hold customary rights to lands and territories under development.
UCL Graduate Research Scholarship
UCL Overseas Research Scholarship
CitationSingapore Journal of Tropical Geography, 2022, https://doi.org/10.1111/sjtg.12437
Author affiliationSchool of Museum Studies, University of Leicester
- VoR (Version of Record)