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Title: Textbook Prescriptions: Malays in Singapore Historiography
Keywords: Malay, Singapore history, Orientalism, portrayal, textbook,
Issue Date: 17-Aug-2011
Citation: NURHIDAYAHTI BINTE MOHAMMAD MIHARJA (2011-08-17). Textbook Prescriptions: Malays in Singapore Historiography. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The relationship between history and nation-building is intricate in the context of nation-states. Those in control of history writing are seen to have the full ability to fix the past, present as well as future of any nation. Therefore, ?officially sanctioned? national historiography is perceived as a singular history. This effectively marginalises the history of minority groups such as the Malays. Singapore national historiography composes of success stories of migrants from the region contributing to Singapore?s development. This is narrated as an initiative by Thomas Stamford Raffles in mainstream historiography. Henceforth, the dominant Singapore history writing starts in 1819 during the colonial period. This has resulted in assertions that Singapore history writing is neo-colonial in nature. Since colonial history relies on Orientalism as its mode of discourse (Chatterjee 1993:38; Behdad 1994:135), Singapore postcolonial national historiography needs to be evaluated to what degree it moves away from or adopts the same Orientalist orientation. The study explores the relationship between Orientalism and Singapore historiography in textbook narratives. It also locates the Malays within Singapore historiography through the evaluation of Singapore history textbooks. My research suggests that there are Orientalist portrayals of Malays in Singapore textbooks. The question remains as to whether there are historical alternatives that can reveal myths in the dominant Singapore historiography. This study seeks to address this by documenting and evaluating responses to Singapore historiography that refutes three discursive points of contention, particularly important to the historical imagination of the Malays. These points are (1) pre-1819 Singapore as a sleepy Malay fishing village; (2) Raffles as the ?hero-founder? of modern Singapore; and (3) the Malay rulers who ?sold? Singapore in their interest.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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