Thursday, October 9, 2014

Narrating Presence: Awakening from Cultural Amnesia

We are pleased to announce the publication of Narrating Presence: Sub-title: Awakening from Cultural Amnesia, from the Singapore Malays: Our Heritage and Legacy series, co-published with The Malay Heritage Foundation.

About the Singapore Malays: Our Heritage and Legacy series

Existing books, references and research papers focusing on the Malay community in Singapore are often written from an outsider’s point of view looking in. Publications by Singaporean Malays about the socio-historical development of the Malay community in Singapore are still few and far between. 

The Singapore Malays: Our Heritage and Legacy series aspires to bridge that gap by publishing a series of books that will encourage introspection and reflection on our social history and culture in a more in-depth manner.
The titles in this series are purposely varied to include topics on culture and the arts, social history and cultural development, trends in religious practices and socio-economic life, and the spirit of enterprise of the Malay community in Singapore. This is to allow different perspectives and unique insights into the everyday lived-experiences and collective memories of our community to be brought forth. Each writer will analyse the various challenges faced by the Malay community in Singapore, from the nineteenth century to contemporary times, using his or her own lens and world view, supported by intensive research. 

We hope that the series will inspire further reflections, and deepen our understanding and appreciation of our heritage and our contribution to Singapore’s development as a nation.

About Narrating Presence: Awakening from Cultural Amnesia

In this book, Dr Azhar investigates and raises questions on the background and social-historical conditionings that had shaped and coloured Malay thinking and world view, from the past to contemporary thought. The author had endeavoured to fathom the thinking and soul of the society concerned through its literary heritage and letters.

In his endeavor to examine the thinking and world view of the Malays of Singapore, through its literary tradition, Dr Azhar Ibrahim has linked literature to various relevant social science theories, such as general sociology, sociology of literature and history of ideas. In this way he had widened the coverage and enquiries of Malay literary criticism in  Singapore beyond the more conventional approach.

To what extent had colonialism conditioned the Malay thought of Singapore Malays? What has been the historical and intellectual response of Malay literature and letters to the various changes brought by colonial capitalism in the beginning, and what is its impact on contemporary thinking in the form of historical continuities?  

This book portrays the condition and stirring of the soul of the Singapore Malays in forging their own cultural identity, how they endeavoured to maintain their tradition while at the same time cultivate ‘the New Malay’, all within a unique and relevant context. This work by Azhar Ibrahim is a significant contribution to the discourse on the thinking and world view of the Malay community of Singapore.

About Azhar Ibrahim

Azhar Ibrahim, PhD, is a Visiting Fellow at the Department of Malay Studies, National University of Singapore (NUS). He obtained his PhD and MA from the same Department in 2008 and 2002 respectively. His research interest includes sociology of religion, sociology of literature and critical literacy, and the Malay-Indonesian intellectual development. He pursued his post-doctoral research on social theology in Muslim Southeast Asia at the Faculty of Theology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and at Abbasi Islamic Studies Program at Stanford University, USA. 

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