Colony, Nation, and Globalisation: Not at Home in by Eddie Tay

By Eddie Tay

This booklet explores colonial and postcolonial literatures of Singapore and Malaysia. It lines in them a heritage of hysteria that attends to the inspiration of domestic. the idea is that house is a actual area in addition to a symbolic terrain invested with social, political and cultural meanings.

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Extra info for Colony, Nation, and Globalisation: Not at Home in Singaporean and Malaysian Literature

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Bird’s writing demonstrates that it is entirely possible to possess a feminine imperialist voice. At various moments in her writing, the emphasis on affect and the sympathetic portrayals of male colonial administrators are evidence that the feminine voice is an adjunct to masculine constructs of imperialism. Emily Innes: Colonialism and its discontents In The Golden Chersonese with the Gilding Off, Emily Innes has this to say of Bird: Miss Bird was a celebrated person, and wherever she went was well introduced to the highest officials in the land; Government vessels were placed at her disposal, and Government officers did their best to make themselves agreeable, knowing that she wielded in her right hand a little instrument that might chastise or reward them as they deserved of her.

The appropriation of the other in colonialist writings is a function of the Manichean dynamic wherein binary oppositions were proposed between coloniser and colonised, administrators and natives, Europeans and non-Europeans. However, the colonisers as well as the colonised were both caught within this binary universe. If Fanon’s writings concerning amok are brought to bear on Swettenham’s, what emerges is the possibility of reading against the grain, such that the name of terror living in the heart of every colonial administrator in Malaya must be the pengamok who, with his jagged knife or kris, strikes at the walls of colonialism.

To be sure, amok is not entirely a colonial invention. Spores made the point that in India as well as in Malaya, it was an acceptable and honoured practice for warriors (28). In Hikayat Hang Tuah (The Adventures of Hang Tuah), a work of Malay literature set in the fifteenth century, an outbreak of amok becomes an occasion for heroism on the part of several youths who subdued the pengamok (Sheppard 30–34). Amok as depicted in indigenous narrative is a functional phenomenon that can be contained by heroic members of Malay society.

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