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Multiculturalism's regeneration: celebrating Merdeka (Malaysian independence) in a European Capital of Culture

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Celebration of Merdeka (Malaysian independence) in Liverpool in 2004 was bound up with the very kinds of essentialist conceptions and practices for which multiculturalism has received so much criticism. This resulted not only from official modes of framing cultural difference but also from the colonially-inflected plural society imaginings of Malaysian student sojourners in the city. Nonetheless, examination of two Merdeka events reveals that they also provided an opportunity for people with diverse ethno-cultural identities, geographical origins and extra-national connections to come together as a momentary ‘community’. The resultant intercultural moments suggest ways in which transnational histories and geographies can extend multiculturalism beyond national(ist) enframings. These possibilities are cast in the paper as a contribution to multiculturalism's regeneration (rather than just more academic critique of the concept and associated programmes) in the face of resurgent assimilationism in Britain and elsewhere.

Keywords: Islam; Liverpool; Malay community; counter-geographies; interculturalism; multiculturalism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge, Singapore 117570, Email:

Publication date: April 1, 2008


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