ICONBAS-MASEC 2017 Session Presentation © Nusantara Performing Arts Research Center (Photo by Howard A Yamaguchi 24/3/2017)

International Conference on Bajau/Sama and Maritime Southeast Asian Cultures

The second International Conference on Bajau/Sama Diaspora & Maritime Southeast Asian Cultures (ICONBAS-MASEC) was held for four days from 23 to 26 March at Tun Sakaran Museum and Dewan Masyarakat Semporna in Semporna, Sabah, Malaysia. ICONBAS-MASEC is an international academic conference that first started in 2016 with the aim of protecting traditional and contemporary arts of Southeast Asia and helping with capacity building in relevant areas.

With the focus on the history and significance of the Bajau-Sama ethnic groups that formed Maritime Southeast Asian culture, the conference offered a platform to discuss and present relevant topics, such as migration, politics, rituals, performing arts, heritage, material culture, languages, and identity. Participants were given the opportunity to understand social and cultural development of the Bajau-Sama and seek ways to contribute to the economic and geopolitical dynamics of coastal areas in Malaysia and further Southeast Asia. During the session, they discussed the roles of museums in preserving the Bajau-Sama culture. The conference was accompanied by the International Igal Festival, a traditional dance competition that promotes and enhances visibility of Malaysia’s traditional dance.

The Nusantara Performing Arts Research Centre, the organizer of the event, is enhancing activities to protect and nurture intangible cultural heritage and contemporary arts in Southeast Asia by supporting research, documentation, publications, and financial assistance to scholars in the region. This year’s ICONBAS-MASEC was also prepared to support research and documentation of traditional and contemporary arts of Southeast Asia. For further details about the conference, visit the website.

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