Mandal, Sumit
Centre for History and Economics, Magdalene College, University of Cambridge
Individual Project :

Keramat and the Malay World

This study of keramat (venerated gravesites) establishes the transnational cultural geography of the Malay world through particular sites of interaction of ideas and practices. The grave is typically of a man who is venerated for outstanding qualities such as extraordinary piety, leadership, generosity, and so forth. The site comes to be recognised as a keramat by signs such as its elongation without any apparent human intervention. Its unusual character is confirmed by the successful supplications of its devotees. The stories of the keramat’s extraordinary qualities endow it with power and allure. The collective examination of a range of these narratives in the form of texts, archived information and images, and interviews, is likely to reveal larger patterns of interaction. Keramat commemorate individuals who were in many instances outsiders, and thereby represent the localisation of transregional persons and politics. The study of the gravesites thus demands attention to a central problematic: the way in which the foreign comes to be incorporated into the local. Rather than offering patterns of formal intellectual and education exchange, the study of keramat sketches a broad field of interaction and demonstrates how different flows of ideas and practices bear on the gravesites.