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  • Anthony D. King


Enclosed and secure space, generally walled or fenced to keep intruders out and also, in different contexts, to keep inhabitants in. In the East and other post-colonial regions, ‘compound’ designates an enclosed space with one or more buildings, frequently occupied by people sharing a nationality or ethnicity other than that of the country in which the compound exists. It can also mean a separate space occupied by members of a kin group.

Like the terms bungalow, godown (warehouse or storeroom) and verandah, compound has its origin in political and cultural processes inherent to colonialism. The word’s origins can be traced, geographically, to the Malay Peninsula, India and China in the 17th century, and, linguistically, to Portuguese, French, Spanish, Malay, Dutch, Javanese and English, all of these having colonial significance. Though of disputed origin, ‘compound’ is generally accepted as an Anglo-Indian term derived from the Malay word kampung or kampong, meaning an enclosure, a fenced-in space or an area of a town....

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