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British Museum Event: J. Postill and F. Hughes-Freeland discuss Media and Nation Building

April 5, 2011


Media and Nation-building: How the Iban Became Malaysian

Thursday 21st April 2011 at 10.00 am (tea & coffee served from 9.30am)

Centre for Anthropology, British Museum


The British Museum’s Centre for Anthropology, in collaboration with the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), is delighted to present for the 4th seminar of the series a discussion between Dr John Postill author of ‘Media and Nation-building: How the Iban Became Malaysian’ and Dr Felicia Hughes-Freeland who reviewed the work for the JRAI.

With the end of the Cold War and the proliferation of civil wars and ‘regime changes,’ the question of nation building has acquired great practical and theoretical urgency. From Eastern Europe to East Timor, Afghanistan and recently Iraq, the United States and its allies have often been accused of shirking their nation building responsibilities as their attention – and that of the media – turned to yet another regional crisis. While much has been written about the growing influence of television and the internet on modern warfare, little is known about the relationship between media and nation bulding. This book explores, for the first time, this relationship by means of a paradigmatic case of successful nation building: Malaysia.  Based on extended fieldwork and historical research, the author follows the diffusion, adoption and social uses of media among the Iban of Sarawak, in Malaysian Borneo and demonstrates the wide-ranging process of nation building that has accompanied the Iban adoption of radio, clocks, print media and television.  In less than four decades, Iban longhouses (‘villages under one roof’) have become media organisations shaped by the official ideology of Malaysia, a country hastily formed in 1963 by conjoining four disparate territories.

Bookings/enquiries: Jasmin Wakeel ( jwakeel #AT# )


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