Since its formation in 1967, the Department of Malay Studies at the University of Singapore, headed by Prof Syed Hussein Alatas, has been at the forefront in embarking and generating critical discourse on Malay society. These critical postures cover various aspects of Malay-Indonesian societies, ranging from culture, politics, modernisation and development, education, religious life, arts and literature, history, language, to the role of elites and intellectuals. But the tenor and style of the dominant Malay Studies is still very much a colonial-orientalist mould, with the post-independence period saw the latter being gradually replaced by an equally problematic of ethno-nationalism. This period coincides with the religious exclusivism in the mainstream Malay intellectual thought, while academicism for global benchmarking sets in, complicating further the goals and agenda of Malay Studies. Addressing these challenges must be our concern, especially in addressing the challenges from neo-orientalism, triumphalist nationalism and the exclusivist vision of society and knowledge.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER
Azhar Ibrahim, PhD is a Lecturer at the Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore (NUS). He teaches Malay-Indonesian literature and ideologies of development at the Department. His research interest includes sociology of religion, sociology of literature and critical literacy, and the Malay-Indonesia intellectual development. Amongst his published books are: Contemporary Islamic Discourse in the Malay-Indonesia World: Critical Perspectives. (2014), Narrating Presence: Awakening from Cultural Amnesia. (2014) and Humanistic Traditions in Islam (2008).
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