Afro-Asian Genealogies in Colonial Penang by Simon Soon


By new forms of participation in the Boria festival (Muharram procession), marginalised Malay communities in Penang registered their presence within the colonial port city. The performances recognised the complex urban cultural web through which the performance’s socially and economically redistributive potential resides within. This presentation connects the Boria to the Malay poetry genre, the ‘syair’, an early modern form of poetry emerging from the Malay world. Through these forms, Soon locate the heart’s desire for another idea of country, dreamt aloud in the songs of those migrant bodies in search of a different poetics of relation.


Simon Soon is senior lecturer at the Visual Art Program, Cultural Centre, University of Malaya. His broader areas of interest include comparative modernities in art, spatial-visual practices, and history of photography. He is currently Penang field director of ‘Site and Space of Southeast Asia’, a project by Power Institute, University of Sydney. He is also a team member of Malaysia Design Archive.

Location: Lahore Museum, Mall Road

Date: February 29, 2020

To view the complete talk, please visit: Simon Soon on Afro-Asian Genealogies in Colonial Penang