‘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