The Malay Garden: Familiar Fragrances and Favoured Flavours

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Organized by Badan Warisan Malaysia in collaboration with Think City Institute.

Live Webinar Details

Date: Sunday, 28 February 2021
Time: 11:00 AM (Kuala Lumpur, GMT+8)
Moderator: Dato’ Zahim Albakri, Vice President, Badan Warisan Malaysia
Free Admission


Prof. Emerita Dato’ Dr. Wazir Jahan Karim traces the shifting landscape from nostalgic Malay gardens of old, with a compelling tale of the culture of perfume and early kitchen potagers, and the use of edible plants and herbs. With a passion for the anthropology of food, she describes how the aesthetic and functional combine to serve a wider community of enthusiasts on an organic and natural food future for her beloved island Penang.

Her up and coming book, The Malay Garden and Table is a lively, intergenerational narrative on the evolution of a tropical garden, from the scented to edible, from the floral to herbal, and from beholden beauty to organic gardening.


Prof. Emerita Dato’ Dr. Wazir Jahan Karim is a fifth generation Jawi Peranakan from Penang. She pioneered Aslian research and was the first woman anthropologist to live with the Orang Asli for two years, from 1972 to 1974. The Ma’ Betise’ practised an eco-friendly sustainable livelihood – permaculture was a natural practice of vernacular conservation of bio-waste. For her early pioneering work on semiotics and ecology, she published a pioneering work on entitled;

1981—–Ma’ Betise’ Concepts of Living Things’, Athlone Press, London, republished, Berg, Oxford, 2004.
1990—-Emotions of Culture: A Malay Perspective, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
1992—-Women and Culture: Between Malay Adat and Islam. Westview Press, Boulder.
1993—-with P. Caplan and D. Bell, co-eds. Gendered Fields: Women, Men, Ethnography, Routledge, London.
1995—-Women in Developing Southeast Asia, Berg, Oxford.
2020—-The Global Nexus: Political Economies, Connectivity and the Social Sciences, World Scientific, Singapore, New York.

Wazir is now a Life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge and continues to publish as an independent scholar and Life Member of Clare Hall. She has pioneered research on the culinary arts and the anthropology of food, including the conservation of Malay and Jawi Peranakan parody theatre. Some of her works in cultural conservation are as follows:

2019—–Boria: From Pasion Play to Malay-Jawi Peranakan Parody, Pelandok Press, Kuala Lumpur
2020—-Feasts of Penang: Muslim Culinary Heritage, MPH, Kuala Lumpur First Edition 2013.

Her articles, chapters and reviews on women, cultural minorities and conservation exceed 100. She is now embarking on further research on Malay urban farming and is completing a book, co-authored with Nuril Karim, entitled, The Malay Garden and Table: Familiar Fragrances, Favoured Flavours, which is anticipated to be published in 2021.

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