Donna Brunero
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Celebrating the ‘world’s most ideal state’
Sarawak and the Brooke dynasty’s centenary of 1941
in Monarchies and decolonisation in Asia
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This chapter investigates the representations of Sarawak under its White Rajas as a model of imperial benevolence, and examines how the ideals of the Brooke raj were conveyed through the centenary festivities which were held in September 1941. Following a brief overview of the history of Sarawak, of Brooke rule and the place of rituals in empire, the chapter explores the events of the centenary week, the popular culture expressed at bazaars and competitions, parades, performances and speeches, and analyses how each reveals the crafting of Brooke rule. It also examines the fundamental changes afoot as a new constitution granting greater self-government was introduced during the centenary celebrations. The chapter demonstrates that by studying how the centenary was celebrated, we gain insights into a territory at the edge of Britain’s formal empire as well as the Brooke dynasty’s self-fashioning of rule in Sarawak.

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