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Historical Imagination and Cultural Responses to Colonialism and Nationalism

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Author: Azhar Ibrahim Pages: 254 pp Publisher: SIRD Published: 2017 ISBN: 9789670960227 ‘The basis of our historical imagination is the intellectual’s (or historian’s) critical thinking and their solidarity with the people, with their destiny and predicament, with the consistent aim of emancipating and liberating the subjugated, the oppressed, and the marginalised.’ History conditions the way that society discusses its problems. Treating history as a form of ‘imagination’, Azhar Ibrahim invites readers to probe the colonialist and nationalist tampering, suppression, and distortion of narratives on the Malays. In this thought-provoking book, the author encourages contemporary historians to move beyond the practice of Orientalist scholars: collecting data and describing facts. Instead, he promotes an alternative reading of history, one that departs from mainstream versions. Reflecting a strong understanding of classical Malay texts, the author also touches on broad themes such as psychological feudalism, orientalism, and the contestation of nationalist and colonialist perspectives on the community. Azhar’s book is a welcomed contribution and a must-read for those interested in alternative discourses in Malay Studies. Dr Norshahril Saat - Fellow, ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore Azhar Ibrahim’s brave effort has shown a new dimension in which history should be read and in his own words, it ‘is to open up the possibilities of understanding alternative historical versions inasmuch as it sanctifies the need to challenge the dominant history that has effectively silenced, relegated and dehumanised the role, the presence, and the dignity of the weak and powerless.’ This brave effort should not be left idle but instead have its dignified place in our search and struggle for a better future; which definitely warrants for a historical imagination. Dato’ Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa - Director, Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Azhar Ibrahim, PhD is a Lecturer at the Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore (NUS). His research interests include the sociology of religion, sociology of literature and critical literacy, and Malay-Indonesian intellectual development. Amongst his published books are: Menyanggah Belenggu Kerancuan Fikiran Masakini (2016), Contemporary Islamic Discourse in the Malay-Indonesian World: Critical Perspectives (2014), Narrating Presence: Awakening from Cultural Amnesia (2014).

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