Intercultural Intimacy: Malaysian Popular Music As An Expression of Social Cohesion (1970s and 1980s)

Adil Johan


This article applies a conceptual framework that merges interculturalism and cultural intimacy to analyse Malaysian popular music as an expression of everyday-experienced social cohesion amidst the nation-state’s ethnically diverse population. It draws on cases of intercultural intimacy found in the production, performance and studio recordings of Malaysian artists and groups with attention paid to Sudirman Arshad and the Alleycats. Sudirman was a Malay artist who became an intercultural pop icon in Malaysia, while the Alleycats (and other groups explored) are a band of non-Malay musicians that appealed to a wide Malay(sian) audience. The cases presented here uncover how Malaysian popular music, specifically from the stage of maturing nationhood during the 1970s and 1980s, provides an important means of intercultural cohesion among its citizens who intersect across various ethnicities, religions and social class. The article analyses aspects of musical production (style, genre, aesthetics) and musical-textual content (lyrics) from studio recordings as well as related contexts of performance (live shows, concerts). The intercultural and affective dynamics of these artists and groups highlight how Malaysian popular music offers intimate, creative expressions that enable processes of everyday-experienced social cohesion.

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

JEBAT : Malaysian Journal of History, Politics & Strategic Studies, 
Center for Research in History, Politics and International Affairs,
Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, 
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 UKM, Bangi Selangor, Malaysia.

eISSN: 2180-02551

ISSN: 012-5644