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Title: Malay-Muslim spirits and Malaysian capitalist modernity: A study of keramat propitiation among property developers in Penang
Authors: Goh, B.-L. 
Keywords: Capitalism
Post-colonial urbanism
Spirit cult
Issue Date: Dec-2005
Citation: Goh, B.-L. (2005-12). Malay-Muslim spirits and Malaysian capitalist modernity: A study of keramat propitiation among property developers in Penang. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 46 (3) : 307-321. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Property developers in Penang (Malaysia) were erecting shrines and performing rituals to propitiate a Malay-Muslim guardian spirit of local sacred places known interchangeably as keramat or Datuk Kong during a period of euphoric economic growth in Malaysia in the early 1990s. Drawing on anthropological approaches, this article explores the symbolic significance of this peculiar capitalist sacralisation in Penang. It argues that keramat propitiation among property developers can be better grasped by understanding how this spirit cult is engendered and acted on by deep historical structures of cultural hyhridity, socioeconomic and ethnonationalist transformations in Malaysia. It is with this background that the keramat cult converges with Chinese supernatural beliefs and becomes a potent idiom that expresses and negotiates contradictions inherent in a highly speculative activity and ethnically charged political economy in Malaysia. This conjunction between the keramat cult and property development activities brings to light the centrality of ethnicity and religion in characterising capitalist formations in a new Asian economy and urban environment. © Victoria University of Wellington, 2005.
Source Title: Asia Pacific Viewpoint
ISSN: 13607456
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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