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The Production and Transmission of Knowledge in Colonial Malaya

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This article aims to highlight how knowledge played an integral role in the cultural reconstruction of the Malay world during the colonial period. The British produced knowledge about the Malays through scholarly writings in history books and the creation of the census report. This knowledge was, for the most part, constructed and did not necessarily correspond to the social reality of the Malays. The education system played a vital role in transmitting this knowledge to the masses, thus beginning a process of internalisation on their part. This led to a rapid disintegration of Malay cultural practices and way of life as they comprehended alien Western concepts, such as history, territory and community. The nationalist movement in present day Malaysia with its emphasis on race and boundaries attests to the degree to which the British has succeeded in transforming the identity of the Malays. The core of this paper is aimed at demonstrating the connection between British administrative procedures and its impact in reconstructing the thought patterns of the people. This permanent invasion upon the minds of the Malays can be said to the most lasting legacy of British colonial rule.

Affiliations: 1: University of Aarhus


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