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Nation Building

Five Southeast Asian Histories

Wang Gungwu

Publication Year: 2005

The book addresses questions such as: how should historians treat the earlier pasts of each country and the nationalism that guided the nation-building tasks? Where did political culture come in, especially when dealing with modern challenges of class, secularism and ethnicity? What part do external or regional pressures play when the nations are still being built? The authors have thought deeply about the issues of writing nation-building histories and have tried to put them not only in the perspective of Southeast Asian developments of the past five decades, but also the larger areas of historiography today.

Published by: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The essays in this volume are the product of a conference organized in Singapore by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in September 2002: “Nation-building Histories: Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore”. ...

The Contributors

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pp. ix

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1. Contemporary and National History: A Double Challenge

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pp. 1-20

At the International Conference of Historians of Asia (IAHA) in Bangkok (1996), there was a panel on nation-building at which it was debated whether it was time for historians to write nation-building histories for Southeast Asia. This appeared rather unadventurous because in 1996 there was much more debate. ...

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2. Nation and State in Histories of Nation-Building, with Special Reference to Thailand

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pp. 21-38

When five Southeast Asian historians took up the challenge to write five nation-building histories, they embarked on a project that took as its main point of reference the nation-state. While the five histories in their final form will be very different in how they approach their respective countries, .

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3. Rethinking History and “Nation-Building” in the Philippines

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pp. 39-68

Distinguished American feminist scholar Joan W. Scott, reflecting on what now counts as “common sense” in her discipline, has argued that “[h]istory is in the paradoxical position of creating the objects it claims only to discover” (2001, p. 85). The fact that historians include and exclude as well as organize and present their “materials” or “data” ...

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4. Writing the History of Independent Indonesia

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pp. 69-90

Writing the story of independent Indonesia has been a more than usually difficult enterprise, and particularly so for Indonesians. Very few have undertaken it, and most who did were either in the triumphalist semi-official school of Suharto’s New Order, or were foreign political scientists ...

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5. Ethnicity in the Making of Malaysia

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pp. 91-116

The writing of my book, Malaysia: The Making of a Nation, (published by ISEAS, Singapore, 2002) was not an easy task because it is primarily a book of contemporary history. Historians are usually more comfortable writing about periods further back in time than the ones they lived in. ...

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6. Historians Writing Nations: Malaysian Contests

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pp. 117-162

At first glance the ISEAS project on nation-building in Southeast Asia seems dated — a hangover from an earlier scholarly preoccupation. In fact, the reverse is the case. In an era in which the nation-state is under attack from one quarter after another — with books bearing such titles as “The End of the Nation State1 ...

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7. Writing Malaysia’s Contemporary History

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pp. 163-190

A recent discussion on nation-building in Southeast Asia steered participants to look into the broader questions of what indeed is the region’s contemporary history and how it should be approached. It is striking, as Professor Wang Gungwu has noted, that the early study of nation-building ...

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8. Forging Malaysia and Singapore: Colonialism, Decolonization and Nation-Building

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pp. 191-220

Nations have been compared with organisms. Metaphors of growth and evolution, of life and death, have been used in their depiction. They have alternatively been seen as constructs, or products of a political process characterized as “nation-building”. This process is sometimes described as “forging a nation”. ...

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9. Nation-Building and the Singapore Story: Some Issues in the Study of Contemporary Singapore History

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pp. 221-250

"History”, as Claude Levi-Strauss asserted, “is … never history, but history-for”.1 Perhaps nowhere is the appropriation of this view that history must always be written from some viewpoint and, therefore, for some purpose in mind more evident than in its use for the agenda of nation-building. ...

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10. Nation and Heritage

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pp. 251-278

The subject of nation and heritage here has been couched in very broad terms, although the focus will be on Southeast Asia.1 It is obvious that the region has to be placed in the context of the Asian experience as a whole. What would also be essential is to look at the global picture ...


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pp. 279-288

E-ISBN-13: 9789812305503
Print-ISBN-13: 9789812303202

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2005

Edition: 1