To Find a Seat: Tracing the Ideoscape of Seats in the Pathars’ Lifeworld in Penang

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Issue Vol. 6 No. 1 (2023)
Published Jan 30, 2023
Section Articles
Article downloads 55
Submitted : Sep 10, 2022 | Accepted : Dec 6, 2022

Sanjeh Kumar Raman Safial Aqbar Zakaria


This article examines the roles taken by seats in the buildings that form the lifeworld of Pathars—traditional Tamil goldsmiths—as an ideoscape following their migration to Penang during the British colonial period in the 19th century. This study used a phenomenological ethnography method to bring Pathars’ lived experiences with their physical environment to the forefront, highlighting the subjectiveness of architecture that shapes their lifeworld. The ideoscape of seats is analysed in themes to examine the power and politics of seats in the Pathars’ lifeworlds, including present-day migrant workers. To find a seat is a metaphor that elicits discussion on Pathars’ existential lives and highlights how this community has attempted to negotiate its way as agents of change or to bring the agency to their position in creating spatial norms in place amidst the state reifying its enclaves with essentialised notions of ethnic identity, following the formation of nation-states.

Keywords: seat, ideoscape, place, space, interiority

Article Details

How to Cite
Raman, S. K., & Zakaria, S. A. (2023). To Find a Seat: Tracing the Ideoscape of Seats in the Pathars’ Lifeworld in Penang. Interiority, 6(1), 21–42.
Author Biographies

Sanjeh Kumar Raman, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia

Sanjeh is a PhD candidate in the Interior Architecture Department, Universiti Sains Malaysia. His broad research interests are place and space theories in architecture and interior architecture, with a focus on experiences of disorientations, migrant and minority experiences, the impact of memory, cultural identity and politics in everyday design context, and the constructs of non-western modernity.

Safial Aqbar Zakaria, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Malaysia

Safial Aqbar is a lecturer in the Interior Architecture Department, Universiti Sains Malaysia. He specialises in lighting design and interior design, concentrating on design, philosophy, and culture.


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