Gerakbudaya cordially invites you to a book launch cum panel discussion for one of our latest titles: Kerajaan: Malay Political Culture on the Eve of Colonial Rule by Professor Anthony Milner. Malay politics today frequently provoke surprise (and often criticism) – and yet tend to be discussed in a historical and cultural vacuum.
History, when cited at all, usually begins in 1946 - when Malay nationalism took effective form in reaction to the threat posed by the British proposal for a Malayan Union. The term ‘nationalism’, however, fails to capture the different levels of Malay political experience – and the degree of ideological contest taking place in Malay society. Elements of the old political culture remain influential today, including in UMNO politics, and the modern Rulers – descendants of the pre-colonial rajas – continue to engage in political contest.
Kerajaan is now a classic in Malay studies. In 2003, it was selected as one of the 25 “works of major importance to historical studies” and “most frequently cited in the literature” in the field of Southeast Asia history (Association for Asian Studies in the USA on behalf of the American Council of Learned Societies). SIRD has published a new edition and a Malay edition – both including a new overview essay from the author, and three other related essays by Shamsul A.B., Syed Muhd Khairudin Aljuneid and Tony Day.
For the launch we have invited Shamsul A.B., Ariffin Omar and Helen Ting to join Tony Milner in discussing both the ideas behind Kerajaan and the importance of understanding Kerajaan polities for interpreting contemporary Malay politics. Two particular questions are: how can we best investigate Malay political thinking in earlier times? And in what ways does the Malay political heritage help us to appreciate contemporary issues concerning Malay identity, politics and unity—or the lack thereof?
About the Book:
“Kerajaan is a classic in Malaysian studies because of its theoretical and empirical elaboration of the state and content of traditional kerajaan Melayu – an elaboration based on hikayat Melayu and dealing with that period in history when European powers began to reshape Malay polities through the colonial ‘define and rule’ approach. For anyone who wants to begin to make sense of contemporary Malay politics, especially the role of the Malay royalties and their socio-historical roots, Milner’s Kerajaan is a must read”.
— Shamsul A.B. (Institute of Ethnic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia)
(from the foreword to the 2016 edition)
About the Author
Anthony Milner is Visiting Professor at the University of Malaya and Professorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne. In 2014–2015 he was the Tun Hussein Onn Chair in International Studies at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Malaysia. He has held visiting appointments at IKMAS, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (Pok Rafeah Chair); the National University of Singapore (Raffles Visiting Professor); the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton; Tokyo University of Foreign Studies; Humboldt University; and Kyoto University. As Basham Chair of Asian History at the Australian National University – apart from producing a series of publications on regional relations - he has written widely on Malay and Malaysian history. His books include The Invention of Politics in Colonial Malaya (1995, 2002), The Malays (2008, 2012) and (as co-author) Transforming Malaysia (2014).