Chun-Yu Wang

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Stanford U.

Grant number

Gr. 9854

Approve Date

April 29, 2019

Project Title

Wang, Chun-Yu (Stanford U.) "Refining Politics: Oil Development, Environmental Activism, and Political Improvisation in Rural Malaysia"

In 2011, the national oil company of Malaysia PETRONAS launched the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) project, an ambitious national development plan that promised to transform an “underdeveloped fishing village” into the “Rotterdam Port of the East” (or the largest downstream oil and gas hub/complex in the Asia-Pacific region). However, the PIPC project incurred strong local protests, because its implementation must expropriate 22,500 acres of land, relocate over 3,000 Malay and Chinese villagers, destroy ethno-religiously significant places and the local fishing economy, and cause irreversible changes to the “kampung” (which means “village” in Malay) physical, demographic, cultural, and moral landscape. My research investigates how new forms of political subjectivity and solidarity – which are not reducible to nor predetermined by race and class – emerge through a grassroots environmental activism against a national downstream oil and gas development project in a rural industrial region named Pengerang, and how these novel political configurations not only have contributed to the historic power shift in 2018 (the first party alteration since Malaysia’s independence in 1957) but also constitute new conditions for rural governance and development.