Organized Panel Session
In his first term as Malaysia’s fourth Prime Minister, which ran from 1981-2003, Mahathir Mohamad articulated a vision for a developed, mature industrialized Malaysia by 2020. The vision, rolled out with much fanfare in 1991, focused largely on economics and politics. This panel examines how other aspects of Malaysian society – culture, the arts, and aspects of everyday life – fared in relation not just to economic and political developments, but also to personal, group and national identities, especially Mahathir’s vision of forging a new Bangsa Malaysia (Malaysian Race). The papers examine how artists like Zulkifli Yusof, Tan Chin Kuan, Liew Kungyu and Wong Hoy Cheong created social commentaries in their artwork in response to “Mahathirism”; how English-language theater practitioners negotiated the competing visions laid out by Wawasan 2020 and sixth Prime Minister Najib Razak’s Transformasi Negara 50; and how the imagination of Malaysian culinary identity expanded through cookbooks and tourism campaigns of the period.