via South China Morning Post, 19 Feb 2019: I’ve covered a number of stories about Malaysian nationalism and archaeology; this one focuses on the ‘who arrived first?’ question in Malaysia, with archaeology (and the Bujang Valley in particular) being one of the battlegrounds between ethnic Indians and Malays. It’s impossible to determine ethnicity through archaeology but it hasn’t stopped people from trying!
In what was seen as a response to Kulasegaran’s speech, in October the National University of Malaysia’s Institute of the Malay World and Civilisation organised a forum entitled “Polemics of Indian presence in the Malay Peninsula: Migration or Immigrants?”.
The event drew flak from the Indian community, particularly since all four panellists were ethnic Malays.
Indian students at the university objected to the forum, leading a state politician to suggest that the participation of non-Malay academics would calm the waters. In an attempt at damage control, the university changed the name of the forum to “The population and ethnic movements in the Malay Peninsula from the perspective of archaeology, culture and history”.