Interpreting Diversity: Europe and the Malay World

by Christina Skott
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Publisher: Taylor and Francis

Publication Date: April 19, 2018

ISBN: 9781315471679

Binding: Kobo eBook

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This volume departs from conventional historiography concerned with colonialism in the Malay world, by turning to the use of knowledge generated by European presence in the region. The aim here is to map the ways in which European observers and scholars interpreted the ethnic, linguistic and cultural diversity which has been seen as a hallmark of Southeast Asia. With a chronological scope of the eighteenth to the early twentieth century, contributors examine not only European writing on the Malay world, but the complex origins of various forms of knowledge, dependent on local agency but always closely intertwined with contemporary metropolitan scientific and scholarly ideas.

Knowledge of the peoples, languages and music of the Malay world, it is argued, came to inform and shape European scholarship within a variety of areas, such as Enlightenment science and anthropology, ideas of human progress, philological theory, ethnomusicology and emerging theories of race. But this volume also contributes to ongoing debates within the region, by discussing ideas about the Malay language and definitions of ‘Malayness’. The last chapters of the book present a reversed viewpoint, in examinations of how local cultural forms, theatrical traditions and literature were reshaped and given new meaning through encounters with cosmopolitanism and perceived modernity. This book was previously published as a special issue of Indonesia and the Malay World.