Colonial “others” and nationalist politics in Malaysia

Nair, Sheila (1999) Colonial “others” and nationalist politics in Malaysia. AKADEMIKA, 54 . pp. 55-79. ISSN 0126-5008

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Recent debates on nationalism suggest that we should revisit the connection between ethnic identity and the nation, and the difficulties confronting post-colonial societies like Malaysia’s in their efforts to construct a unifying nationalist project. How and why has official Malaysian nationalism reinforced ethnic identity even as it seeks a programmatic alternative to colonial strategies in inscribing the body of the nation? Arguing that the social construction of ethnicity under colonial rule has significant implications for the nation, the article explores how colonial rule shapes not only the consciousness of a European ‘self’ distinct from a colonized ‘other’, but also difference in the other which plays out in nationalist politics. Recent shifts in nationalist discourse reflect changes in the Malaysian social structure and suggest the possibility of a more unifying political discourse centered around the nation although it is too early to tell if it will decenter ethnic identity.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Colonialism; nationalism; ethnicity; Malaysia; politics
ID Code:4159
Deposited By: Nurhidayah Nasharudin
Deposited On:05 Apr 2012 01:42
Last Modified:23 May 2012 07:05

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