The Roots of Intangible Cultural Heritage amongst the Malays of Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia: The Customary Law of Adat Perpatih
thesisposted on 03.12.2020, 13:05 by Ainul W. Radzuan
This thesis centres on adat perpatih, the customary law of the Malays of Negeri Sembilan in Malaysia, within the intangible cultural heritage context. Most of the existing literature focusing on adat perpatih strongly focuses on its emphasis on the female line in inheritance of property, social organisation, political structure, gender relation, etc. This research, however, investigates the significance of the customary law of adat perpatih to the local Malays of Negeri Sembilan by examining it in the context of contemporary heritage and identity dynamics in Malaysia. The thesis looks at the predominant practices in adat perpatih and their roles, before examining local and other perceptions, treatments and experiences of adat perpatih and considering approaches to its future. The research is centred on a case study of a specific community in Negeri Sembilan, located in Seri Menanti. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork as well as the investigation of other resources, data were collected using participant observation and in-depth interview, and examined using thematic analysis. The main finding is that local community understandings of adat perpatih and its place as a part of Malay intangible cultural heritage are different from government perceptions. The Malays regard adat perpatih as part of their tradition, history, and culture. There are also different types of approach to safeguarding activities. In particular, the government has a top-down approach to preserving cultural heritage, whereas the local community go about it from the bottom-up. The thesis reflects on these differences and on the ways in which the different perspectives do and could inform each other in safeguarding Malaysia’s cultural heritage. This thesis concludes by proposing further research from different fields of studies in order to further the understanding of adat perpatih and to help the government better understand local community perspectives on safeguarding and sustaining adat perpatih.