Revisiting Malaya: envisioning the nation, the history of ideas and the idea of history

Abdul Rahman Embong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Political and historical thoughts pertaining to “modern Malaya” and Malaysia are phenomena of the emerging modern era characterized by the stirrings and the rise of nationalism in Southeast Asia since the early twentieth century. One of the most compelling ideas in envisioning the nation and fighting for independence then was Melayu Raya, articulated by a group of visionary leaders of socio-political movements who professed to fight for the creation of a political entity, a new independent “nation.” Using the history of ideas approach, this article argues that nations are envisioned, and that we need to contextualize the discussion within what has been termed as “Malay world,” the old kingdoms in the region, and the subsequent struggles against colonial powers and the “nationalist” projects for independence. To help understand this background, the article uses the concept of “culture zone” as used by Fernand Braudel in his study of civilizations. This article examines the debate on the “Malay world” and Melayu Raya, and also the post-Second World War envisioning of the nation and the approaches taken by various groups to fight against British colonialism and for independence. Despite almost six decades of independence, some of these ideas keep returning, resonating with some aspects of the present in today's Malaysia. In the course of this article, a brief reference to the history of ideas and the idea of history is made.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-23
Number of pages15
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2015

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history of ideas
Malaysia
colonial power
political movement
colonial age
Southeast Asia
World War
civilization
nationalism
twentieth century
Group
leader
present

Keywords

  • Cultural zone
  • history of ideas
  • Melayu Raya
  • nation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies

Cite this

Revisiting Malaya : envisioning the nation, the history of ideas and the idea of history. / Embong, Abdul Rahman.

In: Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, Vol. 16, No. 1, 02.01.2015, p. 9-23.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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