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Title: The origin, evolution and future of 'Mek Mulung' : a state heritage status and beyond
Author: Jamalludin, Nur Izzati
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 0754
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This research was carried out to trace the development of 'Mek Mulung', a dance-drama which is native solely to the village of Wang Tepus, Kedah in peninsular Malaysia. From early records of its original form to its present multiple variations, I examine its evolution in consideration of its current relevance and potential sustainability. The main focus is the interrelationships between the two main performance forms that are currently coexisting, despite their rural and urban distinctiveness, and the impact on them from interactions with various forces within their ecological domains. Using an applied ethnomusicological approach which develops largely from ethnographic research methodology, data from a variety of sources were gathered over several years of fieldwork involving participant and non-participant observations, interviews, surveys, archival searches, and digital media sources. Informants for the data include tradition bearers in Wang Tepus, performers, concert audiences, performance makers/experts, and the Wang Tepus community. Results reveal that the urban-based concertized version continues to gain exposure and popularity, but is misunderstood as the 'real' 'Mek Mulung'. Despite the interest and enjoyment shown by urban audiences, many do not know the origin of 'Mek Mulung'. Village-based performances have not taken place for several years, and their absence is giving the impression that it has become relegated in terms of getting credit for the village performers' ownership of the tradition. Being recognized in 2014 as Kedah state heritage status has given a big boost to 'Mek Mulung''s current popularity among urban audiences, but unfortunately, the 'Mek Mulung' of Wang Tepus not only has not benefited but has been negatively impacted by it. Outside intervention efforts by researcher-activists may be necessary to empower the village performers towards preserving and sustaining the original tradition, and ultimately to regaining their sense of pride and ownership as the natural bearers of the tradition.
Supervisor: Schofield, Katherine Ruth ; Stokes, Martin Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available