Research and publication as cultural activism

KUCHING, 19th June: Our ancestors used different ways to talk to one another, whether it be through the weaved tikar on the ground in the living room, the old stories told by a grandmother or the traditional food shared within a community.

These things are the lifeline of a people. Hence, its slow disappearance and loss should alarm us all. In an age where information is easily accessible, it is peculiar how difficult it is to document and retain the stories and knowledge within these traditions.

Main poster for Community Voices, Bor(neo): The Project’s Fourth Sharing Session
Enter ‘Community Voices’, a sharing session entitled to give insight to the topic of ‘cultural documentation’.

The fourth and last online event by Borneo Bengkel in the Bor(neo): The Project series of sharing sessions is hosted by The Tuyang Initiative’s Juvita Tatan Wan. This session will explore the minds of three individuals who have made ‘cultural documentation’ their passion and life’s work: Wendi Sia, Jennifer P. Linggi, and Dee May Tan.

In recent years, the fight to collect generations of oral traditions and traditional knowledge has been supported through community-centred research and publication.

This effort strives to uphold the partnering communities whose wealth of traditional knowledge was borne out of their own exploration, invention, and refinement over centuries.

Wendi Sia is a writer and independent researcher who focuses on indigenous knowledge, cosmologies and critical ecological/environmental thoughts.

As a previously trained journalist where stories create change, she utilises her skills to bring out the ‘small’ ones as she believes they reveal big insights to people and their lives.

Her passion project, GERIMIS Art Project does that by initiating a platform to help and co-create with Orang Asli artisans to recognise, restore, and preserve their arts, culture, and traditions.

Jennifer P. Linggi is an artist who is passionate about traditional material culture which ties in to her previous studies as an architect which is a field that often focuses on structure and how materials can make an impression on a person.

Her passion project which started in 2006 focuses on publishing documented work based on the relationships between Sabahan craft makers and their works to their daily lives, who in majority are a part of an aging group of people whose knowledge will die if no work is made to preserve them, which Jennifer realised.

Dee May Tan is an independent writer and journalist who is all about food and its culture within communities.

Her main focus is on the people who are marginalised and underrepresented.

As founder of Plates, an international food culture magazine, Dee May Tan uses food as a catalyst for conversation focusing on the “othered”.

Food as a way to weave through and transcend barriers of often socially separated communities.
Host of this sharing session is Juvita Tatan Wan, co-founder of The Tuyang Initiative, an award-winning arts management company focused on Borneo indigenous cultural heritage.

Their purpose is to drive cultural continuity with providing industry skill sets both creative and cultural through their initiatives.

What are the approaches taken by these 3 Malaysians who have made cultural documentation their passion?

How have they harnessed creative methods to preserve and present all this information?

How have partnering communities contributed and responded, and what are steps we can take to better centre community voices?

With this sharing session, Borneo Bengkel hopes to highlight the importance of these things; the crafted materials, oral traditions and food culture of a people, so with more time, the knowledge of these subjects become accessible to the common person.

The sharing session will be broadcast live to two online platforms for free on 19 June 2021 at 4PM MYT.

Interested viewers may watch Bor(neo): Community Voices by either signing up to be one of 20 Zoom attendants at, or watch with other visitors to Borneo Bengkel’s Facebook page, at

For more information, follow Borneo Bengkel’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts at @borneobengkel or email for enquiries!


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