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Multicultural narratives from oral history accounts

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What is the meaning of a “multicultural way of living”? This presentation is a sharing of some findings from Kuah Li Feng PhD thesis. Following recent developments in the anthropology of perception and knowledge that increasingly acknowledges the importance of multisensory experiences, she took a sensory ethnography approach to study people and place in George Town.

Borrowing from leading anthropologist, Tim Ingold, the concept of human correspondence is based on the understanding that when two lifelines meet or correspond to form a knot, they produce an inner feeling for each other. This inner feeling is what makes the lifelines stick together.

To make sense of the “multicultural way of living”, Kuah identified and investigated several knots of multisensory correspondence in George Town. These knots are food, festivals, language and place. She relied on oral history accounts heavily as primary data, and she will use a few samples here to illustrate how people “correspond” with each other in the above knots and the meanings behind.


Kuah Li Feng is an ethnographer and cultural practitioner. She founded Studio Good Think in 2011, one of the first private heritage service consultancies in Penang focusing on cultural research and interpretation.


Wan Atikah Wan Yusoff is a cultural worker based in George Town, Malaysia where she is constantly reflecting upon her everyday experience and observation in this urban heritage site. She has served with Arts-Ed as a project coordinator and with George Town World Heritage Incorporated as a cultural heritage officer.

Atikah is also a 2019 alumnus of CrossCulture Programme – Fellowship for Professionals by Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen, Germany and the 2020 resident of KongsiBumbung Cultural Worker Residencies, where she reflects about space and living.

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Qaleeda Talib read history at the University of Oxford, where she wrote her final year dissertation on the role of the Zubayrids in propagating Prophet Muhammad as a symbol of Islam. She is currently vice-president of Imagined Malaysia, where she hopes to promote the values of historical and humanities education, empower museums as centres of learning and research, and shift the way we view the study of history.

This webinar is organised by Pusat Sejarah Rakyat.

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