Collective Amnesia: The Japanese Occupation of the Phillipines

Stephanie Ann B. Lopez, a student of Psychology at University of the Phillipines Dilliman writes a short story about the horrors of the Japanese Occupation in the Phillipines during the Second World War. Her descriptions are based on documentaries and narratives about this particular period of the country's history. It was like any other afternoon. … Continue reading Collective Amnesia: The Japanese Occupation of the Phillipines

The Mysterious Ali of the ‘Malay Archipelago’

Tom McLaughlin holds a Masters in Political Science and International Affairs and currently resides in Sarawak. Together with his wife, Suriani binti Sahari, they conducted an oral history and archival investigation of the enigmatic persona "Ali" in the classic text on Borneo's natural history, Malay Archipelago by Alfred Wallace. This essay explores the oral history … Continue reading The Mysterious Ali of the ‘Malay Archipelago’

The Hybridity of Malay Islam (1500-1800) Part I: Islamisation and Sufism as Key Elements of Identity

The integration of Islam into the Malay world occurred as a constant flux over time and its formulation across the Malay world was neither consistent nor constant. The religion, especially the Sufi school of Islam had a tremendous impact within those four centuries, altering the social and political fabric of the Malay ruled areas of Southeast Asia while also resulting in new Islamic developments that impacted the other kingdoms and societies in the Indian ocean. This two-part essay by Lhavanya Dharmalingam, a student of International Relations at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, discusses that the ideals and doctrines of Middle Eastern formulations of Islam was not adopted as a totality, but were being modified with complex innovations that manifested in different legal systems, systems of governance, societal arrangements and practices in the Malay world.

The Hybridity of Malay Islam (1500-1800) Part 2: An Entanglement of ‘Adat’ and Politics

This is a two-part essay on the complex history of Islam in the Malay World by Lhavanya Dharmalingam, a student of International Relations at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. The first part of the essay outlines how the process of Islamisation took place in the region due to the openness of Malay cultural life … Continue reading The Hybridity of Malay Islam (1500-1800) Part 2: An Entanglement of ‘Adat’ and Politics

An Erased History of Pulau Belakang Mati

The modern polity of Singapore is now better known as a concrete jungle, constantly entangled in the discourse of political freedoms and the leadership of the late Lee Kuan Yew. When it comes to tourism, the fun-filled Sentosa Island often springs into our minds. Yet, little do we know about the quaint story of a people before the invention of Sentosa. Yeo Tze Yang, a visual artist and student of Southeast Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore takes us on a trip down her family's memory lane to reveal the forgotten history of a place once known as Pulau Belakang Mati.

Between Tradition and Revolution: Nationalism in Malaya and Indonesia

"National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. Self-determination is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action”, said Woodrow Wilson in 1918 (GWPDA, 1997). In the case of Malaya and Indonesia, this would become a normative impetus to how its native intellectuals propagated the principle of national self-determination to its own people. Due to this, the language of nationalism can be seen as a positive force because it helped articulate the anticolonial struggle of Malayans and Indonesians. However, a comparative analysis shows how differently these two nationalisms are based on its leadership and representation in mass politics. Netusha Naidu explores the withstanding tensions between the traditionalism of the ascending ruling class and revolutionary streak of left-leaning groups in formulating national identities reveal the inherent complexities of anticolonial nationalism (Click title to read more).

What Really Caused the Philippine Revolution?

The Philippine Revolution which begun in 1896 saw the rise of the demands and grievances of the people of the Philippines against the Spanish colonial rulers of that time. In studying the causes of the revolution, early historians have tended to attribute the events of that period mainly to the despotism of the Spanish. Afra Alatas, a student of History at the National University of Singapore, compares two articles that address the causes of the Philippine Revolution. They are complementary in nature in the sense that one article discusses issues which the other fails to address. The first will be ‘The Cause of the Philippine Revolution’ by Vincente Pilapil, while the second will be ‘The Enlightenment and the Philippine Revolution’ by Jose Arcilla. While Pilapil addresses a broad range of causes that led to the revolution, Arcilla addresses the Enlightenment in particular, and how it had an impact on the nationalist leaders and Rizal in particular. In analysing these articles, she seeks to argue that while Pilapil successfully challenges early historiography on the causes of the revolution, he appears to overlook the true significance of the Spanish. Furthermore, he lacks analysis on the significance of the Enlightenment; a factor which Arcilla discusses and argues for its influence in the nationalist movement and hence the revolution.

Transcending the Nation: Pan-Islamism in the 19th Century

In modern times, a person is seen to have a sense of belonging and identity to their nation. However, the rise of globalisation is said to shape belonging and identity that transcends our geographical boundaries so much so, we are rendered the question of - can one profess such a belonging while remaining loyal to their country? According to Netusha Naidu, Pan Islamism in the nineteenth century is a real example of such identity. The historical events surrounding Pan-Islamism display how Islam promoted a sense of belonging in a wider region while being the driving force of nationalism and socio-political empowerment. Up to this date, the legacy of Pan Islamism is echoed in the form of contemporary global politics. Netusha presents and analyses the case for Pan-Islamism by investigating its possible origins, the history of its mobilization for these struggles through the intellectual legacies of Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī and his successor, Muhammad Abduh, the left-leaning nationalist politics in Malaya-Indonesia and how the Adaletve Kalkınma Partisi (AKP) domestic and foreign policy serves as memory of Pan-Islamic values in contemporary Turkish politics.