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Contemporary Malay Studies: Diverging Visions, Competing Priorities and its Implications: A Critique

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This paper aims to delineate and evaluate the various intellectual trends and visions as espoused by some prominent intellectual figures in Malay Studies by highlighting their ideas on Malay Studies and some of its problems and challenges. Four primary concerns in contemporary Malay studies are highlighted. These are (a) linguistic-language affection; (b) ethnographic and documentation pursuit ; (c) the clamour for a wider Malay world studies and (d) the interest in the search of indigenous theories in the Malay literary studies. The academic interest in these four domains however saw the neglect in confronting the grip of orientalist discourse which, still persists, nor to problematise the uncritical nationalistic discourse within Malay studies which are characterized by feudal romanticism and ahistorical cultural aggrandizement. Therefore, the creation of an alternative discourse, that challenges both orientalist scholarship and nationalistic Malay studies is crucial in order to ensure that it make vital contribution to the progress and development of Malay society. is certainly requires a creative incorporation of social sciences that are both sensitive and emphatic to the particular nuances, yet with a strong universalistic outlook in comprehending the dynamics of Malay society to avoid the pitfall of an ossified and imitative intellectual discourse.

Affiliations: 1: National Institute of Education, Singapore


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