Bajautopia: Tales of Borneo's Sea Nomads
Year of Issue: 2022
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Bajautopia is a book that aims to reflect on both the struggles and hopes of the Bajau Laut community. The book title Bajautopia comes from a combination of two words – ‘Bajau’ and ‘Utopia’. This edited volume does not pretend to be a comprehensive collection of writings about the world of the Bajau Laut. As a collection of essays and architecture research, its aim is to stimulate provocative ideas and debates for the betterment of the Bajau Laut.
Bajautopia is both a manifesto and a provocation. This book should not be seen as an exercise in design per se, but an invitation for planners, politicians, scientists, engineers, environmentalists and activists to further a holistic dialogue and to stimulate ideas for a sustainable future for the Bajau Laut. In this way we engage with the discourse of utopianism and use the Bajau Laut as a critical lens through which to observe misconceptions of their nomadic lifestyle as it is conventionally understood. Underlying this book is indeed a constructive criticism of existing attempts to build an inclusive Malaysian society through categories of race, culture and geography.
This edited volume contains a collection of inspiring essays to reveal the life and culture of the Bajau Laut. The book brings together a wide range of essay contributors, led by the foremost writers and scholars from the fields of architecture, history, film studies, anthropology, tourism, political science, and urban planning in Malaysia. Considered as a dialogue between scholars/writers from different cultural backgrounds and epistemological contexts, this book explores a diverse range of topics integral to the livelihood of the Bajau Laut.
These tales of sea nomads are further explored and illustrated by an extensive number of architectural ideas and imaginaries which aim to stimulate ideas for the environmental and social-spatial transformation of this maritime community. This collection of work consists of hybrid materials: poems, comics, photographs, site drawings, imaginative sketches, artworks, and other visual materials. With such a rich collection of multifaceted contents, we hope not merely to capture multiple narratives and representations, but most importantly to provoke critical thinking on alternative forms of democracy and well-being for the Bajau Laut.