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Open Access The village as a ‘community of practice’ Constitution of village belonging through leisure sociality

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The village as a ‘community of practice’ Constitution of village belonging through leisure sociality

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This paper looks at the formation and display of a form of identification alternative to the national one, the belonging to the village, within the leisure practices of Kadazan villagers in Sabah, East Malaysia, both constituted by the regular meetings of peer groups and by festive events. The analysis of the paper applies the concept of ‘community of practice’ to the group of villagers who regularly invest most of their resources of free time, but also money, in interacting between themselves and in organising celebrations for various life-cycle events or for other occasions, and argues that a strong sense of belonging to the village is developed through this engagement.These practices are informed by a powerful and widely spread local ideology, positing the village as the central point of reference for its inhabitants’ sense of belonging and as the locus of a traditionalist ‘way of life’, based on cooperation, sharing and egalitarian principles, and rejecting the modern, multi-ethnic urban world from which the majority of the villagers derive their livelihood. This ideology defines the village as Kadazan and Christian, determining a rootedness in everyday life of ethnic identity as well as a general rejection of government-led nationalist propaganda and of its policies. This ideology is an essential part of the affirmation by the villagers of the primacy of the local and of direct involvement and participation over their sense of belonging to collective categories.

Affiliations: 1: Nottingham Trent International College.


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