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Bahar, Ida Baizura (2010) The Paradigm of Malayness in Literature. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study is a study on the paradigm of Malayness in literature, taking as its point of departure the understanding of Malayness in Malaysia. A prominent Malaysian social anthropologist, Shamsul Amri Baharuddin (Shamsul A. B.), has outlined a contemporary understanding of Malayness in Malaysia based on an authority-defined social reality: the three pillars of Malayness comprising Bahasa/language (Malay), agama/religion (Islam) and raja/monarchy (the Malay rulers). I hypothesised in this study, however, that a broader understanding of Malayness is reflected in the works of literature in the form of an everyday-defined social reality consisting also of adat/culture, ethnicity and identity apart from the Malay language, Islam and the Malay rulers. The focus of this study centres on an exploration of the paradigm of Malayness in a body of English and Malay literary works on the Malay World based on six elements of the paradigm of Malayness I hypothesised, namely the Malay language, Islam, the Malay rulers, adat/culture, ethnicity and identity. The hypothesised paradigm of Malayness is employed as a conceptual framework where analyses of selected works in both English and Malay literature are conducted based on a close textual analysis approach. The results from the analyses are then compared and contrasted. This study has determined that Shamsul's three pillars of Malayness as an authority-defined social reality cannot be corroborated in the works of literature because I found that the paradigm of Malayness in literature is in fact an everyday-defined social reality. It is understood to refer to not only the three pillars but to a broader understanding comprising adat/culture, ethnicity and identity as I hypothesised. The paradigm of Malayness is found to be an everyday-defined social reality based on a local and broad understanding and therefore contests the current understanding of Malayness as an invented tradition conceptualised ideologically during colonial times.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:19

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