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The Ideological Fantasy Of British Malaya: A Postcolonial Reading Of Swettenham, Clifford And Burgess

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Chapter Summary

The nation, Benedict Anderson proposes in Imagined Communities, is a cultural artefact of popular imagination. This chapter employs the Lacanian concept of fantasy, as transposed by Slavoj Žižek to the sociopolitical domain as ideological fantasy, to analyze the colonial basis for the racially emotive imagination of the Malay/sian nation. Its main argument is that colonial state-builders did not merely import ready-made Western state forms and transplant them in foreign soils, and that they were as much influenced by their imaginations of the colony and its natives as they were by models and practices of modern government. Furthermore, these imaginations were not predetermined in toto by Orientalist discursive formations in the metropole.

Keywords: British Malaya; Burgess; Clifford; ideological fantasy; Swettenham



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