As elements of the political landscape, place-names can express not only the ideological themes of the state but also the political atmosphere and processes by which nation-states make their impression on the landscape. This essay, based on fieldwork conducted in Sarawak, Malaysia, in 1999 and 2000, addresses the nature of place-names in Sarawak and focuses on how certain communities react to the place-names of their villages and townships in their everyday lives, that is, how place-names are derived, who speaks them, how they are used, and in what context. An exploration into subjects' reactions to place-names can be read not only as the antithesis to state impressions on the national landscape over time but also, to a varying extent, as traces of the original baptismal event in the present circumstances. In short, place-names are active, context-generating as well as context-reflecting.


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pp. 65-91
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