Arguably Southeast Asia’s most spectacular city, Kuala Lumpur—widely known as KL—has just celebrated fifty years as the national capital of Malaysia. But KL now has a very different twin in Putrajaya, the country’s new administrative capital. Where KL is a diverse, cosmopolitan, multiracial metropolis, Putrajaya fulfills an elitest vision of a Malay-Muslim utopia. KL’s multicultural richness is reflected in the brilliance and diversity of its architecture and urban spaces; Putrajaya, by contrast, is an architectural homage to an imagined Middle East. The “purity” of Putrajaya throws the cosmopolitan diversity of Kuala Lumpur into sharp relief, and the tension between the two places reflects the rifts that run through Malaysian society. In Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya: Negotiating Urban Space in Malaysia, Ross King considers what form of metropolis the Kuala Lumpur-Putrajaya region might foreshadow, arguing that signs of this future city are to be sought in the collision points between the utopian dreams of imagined futures and the reality of purposely forgotten pasts.
ASAA Southeast Asia Publications Series
November 2008 / ISBN 978-0-8248-3318-3 / $36.00 (PAPER)