Penang, Malaysia is a historic port at the northern end of the Straits of Malacca, attracted traders and settlers from the Archipelago, China, India, Arabia and Europe. Their legacy is one of the most extensive urban heritage areas in Southeast Asia today, dating mainly from the late 18th century to the mid-20th century. Their descendants are custodians of a living heritage, a multicultural community forged through waves of migration.
The Penang Story project aims to bring together established and new scholars from various academic disciplines to revisit, reevaluate and consolidate the history of Penang. Its objectives are:
1) to provide a historical basis for Penang’s nomination and the interpretation of its “outstanding universal values” based on its built and living heritage.
2) to support conservation and education efforts towards Penang nomination to World Heritage, together with Malacca
3) to generate a creative interface in urban and social history, to promote cross-fertilization between disciplines, as well as between local history and regional studies
4) to celebrate Penang’s historical cultural diversity and to develop inter-cultural history
5) to explore Penang’s historical role vis-à-vis its neighbours, particularly Malacca, and Penang’s role in the region now known as IMT-GT
The World Heritage application requires that “The Penang Story” be told, in addition to the presentation of the inventory and management plan for the nominated historic area. “Story” implies history, while including historical perspectives of other disciplines and also embracing the stories of local communities.
Urgency: Listed as one of the World’s 100 Most Endangered Sites, the city of George Town is facing the aftermath of Repeal of Rent Control, loss of heritage buildings and historical communities.
The project consists of an Oral History Workshop and four community history Colloquiums leading to a major international inter-disciplinary conference on the social history of Penang.
In conjunction with the main conference and colloquiums, the Penang Story project will create further community impact through an oral history programme, public talks, exhibitions, educational tours and site visits, arts events and performances and a year-long media campaign to promote heritage conservation and the nomination of Penang & Malacca to UNESCO World Heritage.
About 50-100 participants are expected for each colloquium, and as many as 300 participants are targeted for the main conference. Those who would be interested to attend include:
· Academicians and scholars with an interest in Penang, Malaysia or the Southeast Asian region
· Government officials in archives, museum, culture, tourism, conservation
· Libraries, socio-cultural institutions and organisations
· Local cultural and community organisations
· People of Penang and Penangites living abroad
· Anyone with an interest in the history, heritage or cultures of Penang
· Publishers, writers, media