Architecture and urban form in Kuala Lumpur: Race and Chinese spaces in a postcolonial city

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11 Citations (Scopus)


Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, is a former colony of the British Empire which today prides itself in being a multicultural society par excellence. Engaging with complex colonial and postcolonial aspects of the city from the British colonial era in the 1880s to the modernisation period in the 1990s, this book demonstrates how Kuala Lumpur's urban landscape is overwritten by a racial agenda through the promotion of Malaysian Architecture, including the world-famous mega-projects of Petronas Twin Towers and the new administrative capital of Putrajaya. It demonstrates how the 'Malaynisation' and 'Islamisation' of the urban landscape - the core of Malaysia's decolonisation projects - has marginalised the Chinese urban spaces which were once at the heart of Kuala Lumpur. Drawing on a wide range of Chinese community archives, interviews and resources, the book illustrates how Kuala Lumpur's Chinese spaces have been subjugated. This includes original case studies showing how the Chinese re-appropriated the Kuala Lumpur old city centre of Chinatown and Chinese cemeteries as a way of contesting state's hegemonic national identity and ideology. This book is arguably the first academic book to examine the relationship of Malaysia's large Chinese minority with the politics of architecture and urbanism in Kuala Lumpur. It is also one of the few academic books to situate the Chinese diaspora spaces at the centre of the construction of city and nation. By including the spatial contestation of those from the margins and their resistance against the hegemonic state ideology, this book proposes a recuperative urban and architectural history, seeking to revalidate the marginalised spaces of minority community (Chinese spaces in Kuala Lumpur), and re-script them into the narrative of the postcolonial nation-state.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherAshgate Publishing Ltd
Number of pages221
ISBN (Print)9781409445975
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering (all)
  • Social Sciences (all)
  • Arts and Humanities (all)


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