Other Malays

Nationalism and Cosmopolitanism in the Modern Malay World

by Joel S. Kahn

254 pp.,
Available from NIAS Press in Europe

Paperback - 2006, Available
ISBN 978 87 7694 007 2, £14.99

The narrative of Malay identity devised by Malay nationals, writers and film makers in the late colonial period associated Malayness with the village or kampung, envisaged as static, ethnically homogenous, rural, etc. Joel Kahn challenges the kampung version of Malayness, arguing that it ignores the immigration of Malays from outside the peninsula to participate in trade and commercial agriculture, the substantial Malay population in towns and cities, and the reformist Muslims who argued for a common bond in Islam. Owing to a rising dissatisfaction with the established order and new modernist sensitivities, especially among the younger generation, the author argues that it is time to revisit the alternative, more cosmopolitan narrative of Malayness.

‘[T]he questions Kahn asks are the important ones, and the material is drawn together in quite new ways’ (Janet Carsten, University of Edinburgh).

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