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CULTURE, POWER AND RESISTANCE: POST-COLONIALISM, AUTOBIOGRAPHY AND MALAYSIAN INDEPENDENCE

By SOPHIA SHARIFAH WAN-AHMAD

Abstract

This research examines the relationship between the representation of colonial history and the elite claim of authority in Malaysia. Specifically, it investigates the claim that Malayan independence was achieved through a peaceful struggle. In order to address this claim, it was important to examine:\ud \ud 1. The representation of the colonial period in national history\ud 2. UMNO dominance in politics, economy and culture, and its claim of almost total authority for the achievement of Malaysian independence. \ud 3. The extent to which the UMNO claim has hindered the development of democratic forces.\ud \ud The excavation of supplementary and alternative narratives of Malaysian history has been central for this research. In particular, the mainstream representation of history is challenged through autobiographical revelation.\ud \ud The thesis focuses on the formation of the dominant representation during the colonial era, showing how the process suppressed other perspectives. ‘Radical’ nationalism during anti-colonial struggle in the period after the Second World War, from 1945 to 1957, is explored. The perspectives and experiences of radical nationalists are used as the basis for a critique of the dominant discourse of the post-independence political elites. In particular, the emergence of autobiographical fragments has enabled exploration of mundane but abiding resistance. While some notable differences are found in the character of resistance, there remains a persistent theme of democratic aspiration in the counter-narratives of Malaysian politics and society, alongside the persisting elite structures of politics and culture extending from the colonial through to the post-colonial eras. The analysis of the autobiographical reflections of radical nationalists demonstrates levels of cultural resistance which have not been recognised until now. \u

Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:etheses.dur.ac.uk:176
Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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