Managing cultural activism

A case study of Buku Jalanan of Malaysia

Authored by: Sunitha Janamohanan

The Routledge Companion to Arts Management

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138492226
eBook ISBN: 9781351030861
Adobe ISBN:


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Cultural collectives that are driven by community centered thinking and social purpose require new strategies for organization and sustainability. Taking a case study of a Malaysian collective that uses literature and reading as a methodology for public space reclamation and the cultivation of a culture of dissent, the question of organizational management for non-organizations is raised. Buku Jalanan is a self-identified collective lacking formal structure that has evolved from its founding group into a nationwide movement spawning nearly 100 chapters. This study attempts to construct an understanding of the collective from its mission, organizational structure and questions of sustainability. In this process questions will be raised as to what rules of management may be applicable to this context of cultural agency. The relationship between the founding group, Buku Jalanan Shah Alam, and its network of chapters will also be discussed in an attempt to frame Buku Jalanan as not just a collective or network, but something more conceptually larger – a movement or a method. Questions on the perennial need for sustainability are answered by the proposal that factors such as community relevance, participation and civic engagement, are more vital factors than professionalization and organizational sustainability.

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