Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155603
Title: "RICE TOO DEAR, I DIE": EVERYDAY LIVES OF THE MALAYAN UNDERCLASS DURING THE SOUTHEAST ASIAN RICE CRISIS, 1919-1921
Authors: CHAN HUI YANG
Keywords: Social History
Rice Crisis
Colonialism
Malaya
Cities
Rural
Issue Date: 22-Apr-2019
Citation: CHAN HUI YANG (2019-04-22). "RICE TOO DEAR, I DIE": EVERYDAY LIVES OF THE MALAYAN UNDERCLASS DURING THE SOUTHEAST ASIAN RICE CRISIS, 1919-1921. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: “Rice too dear, I die.” These were the contents of a suicide note left by a Chinese man in 1920, which reflected his choice of death over prolonged starvation as a result of the excessively high prices of rice. This thesis explores a period of crisis between 1919 and 1921, where a combination of rice supply shortages and high prices threatened to wreak social and economic havoc on the colonial spaces of Malaya. While the government attempted to solve the crisis through a series of regulations and campaigns, these actions ultimately failed to solve the crisis, even exacerbating it. The focus of this thesis is on how the underclass group of peasants and coolies experienced, and concomitantly responded to the crisis. The central argument of this thesis is that the rural and urban spaces of colonial Malaya acted as interfaces which brought together the colonial administrators, capitalists and underclasses. Here, tensions over the rice crisis and how it was handled by the administrators and capitalists would be manifested in myriad ways: the visible and highly explosive strikes, riots, and violence on one hand, and more invisible forms of everyday protest. These different manifestations were in turn dependent on the intertwined roles of spatial surroundings as well as the different races’ varied experiences of colonialism. With meticulous research based on the extensive use of statistics, newspapers and colonial office records, this thesis employs a comparative analysis of rural and urban Malaya based on the use of broad conceptual frameworks. Ultimately, Rice too dear, I die will be useful for students and academics of Malaya’s colonial history, as well as those looking to further explore the dynamics of dominant-subordinate relations in a colonial setting.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/155603
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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