Hegemonizing the Ajat Indu in Sarawak, Malaysia


  • Andrew Igai Jamu Dance Department, Cultural Centre, University of Malaya, Malaysia
  • Premalatha Thiagarajan University of Malaya, Malaysia


Ajat Indu, Dance, Hegemony, Iban, Sarawak, Malaysia


This article discusses the reinvention of women’s dance tradition, Ajat Indu by Sarakup Indu Dayak Sarawak (SIDS), a socio-cultural association established for Sarawak’s Ibans in East Malaysia. SIDS aims to standardize, codify, and refine the dance form for tourism and promoting the culture of Iban. Using the concept of cultural hegemony by Antonio Gramsci, this essay examines the role played by SIDS as the hegemonic organization that governs Ajat Indu to the extent that the institutionalization of Ajat Indu was forced to be accepted by the Iban people as a cultural norm. Although such, there is a form of active subversion of power due to the existence of individual forms of Ajat Indu still practiced in the rural areas in Sarawak. Through ethnographic study, this essay analyses the politics of power in the practice of Ajat Indu by comparing the performances of Iban’s subgroups in the rural longhouses in Sarawak and the urbanized SIDS’ version.




How to Cite

Jamu, Andrew Igai, and Premalatha Thiagarajan. 2021. “Hegemonizing the Ajat Indu in Sarawak, Malaysia”. Journal of Urban Culture Research 23 (December):168-85. https://so04.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/JUCR/article/view/255944.