Volume 11, Issue 2, 2014
Re-scripting Colonial Heritage
This paper explores alternative meanings and appropriations of the category colonial heritage. How do different categories of people practice and appropriate
spaces that have been labelled as colonial heritage? How are these formely colonial spaces (re-) appropriated, contested, commodifed, in contemporary societies? My interest here is strongly influenced by Ann Stoler’s work on Imperial Debris, ruins and ruination (Stoler, 2008). Building upon her argument, I argue for a critical ethnography of how colonial spaces are practiced, experienced, inhabited, rescripted, by multiple agencies and agents, in contemporary times. Based in ethnographic research, this text explores processes of labelling and circulating through spaces in Melaka (West Malaysia), explores linkages between nostalgia and alternative notions of heritage, and questions the local meanings ascribed to heritage (translatable as warisan, in bahasa melayu). Building upon Rosaldo’s (1989) notion of imperialist nostalgia and Hertzfeld’s (2005) concept of structural nostalgia, I end by discussing the production and consumption of colonial nostalgia in contemporary times.