Public Debates on the Malaysian Nation and Malaysian History – a seminar by Prof Cheah Boon Kheng (Wed, 22 October 2008)

Speaker: Professor Cheah Boon Kheng (Visiting Professor, Department of History, NUS)
Date: Wednesday, 22 October 2008
Time: 3:30pm – 5:00pm
Venue: AS3, Level 6, SEAS Seminar Room (06-20)

Synopsis
Historical discourses and politics are central to intellectual or public debate. In Malaysia the concept of a “Malaysian nation” frequently arouses intense debate among nationalist politicians and ethnic and regional minorities as well as the way history is popularly perceived. When politicians lay superior claim to authority over the past, the competing histories in the public debate and race politics reduce the professional historian to a state of irrelevance. My paper will survey some of the current problems in Malaysian historiography, especially the representation of ethnic and regional minorities and their critique of the concept of ‘nation’ in the face of nationalist attempts to impose a position of hegemony.

About the speaker
Cheah Boon Kheng is Visiting Professor at the Department of History, National University of Singapore. He is the author of several books including Red Star Over Malaya: Resistance and Social Conflict during and after the Japanese Occupation, 1941-1946 (1983) and Malaysia: The Making of a Nationa (2002).