My Dissertation:

The Twisting Staff:
Strategy, Structure and Genre
in the Malay Muslim Court
Literary Tradition

Stephen Arod Shirreffs, Ph.D.
South and Southeast Asian Studies
University of California at Berkeley


The starting point from which I approached this dissertation concerned what had been neglected in the critical approaches to what I will throughout this work call the hikayat genre.(1) My researches to that point suggested that investigations had suffered most severely from the lack of a global or overarching perspective, and thus I designed my project to explore macroscopic rhetorical structures common across the genre. Over the course of my researches, however, I came to a different conclusion, i.e., that the most telling critical lack was precisely opposite to this. What most marked contemporary views as well as colonial-era and post-colonial literary criticism of the genre was a tendency both to require and to find a unity of purpose along with a consequent putative failure in exercise of this purpose on the part of the texts. The macroscopic approach threatened merely to reproduce the structure of these approaches without finding a route out of the problems which they raised. So far, then, from being an attempt to reconstruct a universal, worldly paradigm for these texts, my task came to address the problems of discerning the textual minutiae which, considered together, would constitute a new and more revealing approach to delineating the contours of the genre.

The precursor to this microscopic approach is to be found in the recent work in the field which has focused upon schematic composition techniques in the hikayat genre. Amin Sweeney, in particular, has commented upon the principles of composition in Malay chirographic texts,(2) noting especially those features congruent with their intended aural audiences.(3) This work both added to and corrected the paradoxically narrow yet global view of the colonialist scholars which examined a text only insofar as it served larger, especially political purposes irrespective of the particularities of time and place both in audience and in the text itself. Most significant among the features of schematic composition for present purposes was the theory of paratactic construction. Briefly put, this theory argues that texts intended for aural audiences will be marked by a juxtaposition of sentences and stories without explicit grammatical or structural marking of relationships between contiguous elements. Is the corollary of such a writing or performative technique that these texts find the expression of complex relationships outside their ability? Even as we answer that question with a "no," we still face the dilemma of describing in its particulars how complexity is expressed through a predominantly additive textual methodology. This dissertation will postulate and undertake new approaches to Malay literary criticism with a specific view to revealing the methods behind the complexity.

The notion that radically oral societies could not express complexity does not hold water even considering their reliance upon schematic modes of composition. I came to pose the problem this way: we must assume that any people is able to understand temporal relationships (including the notion of a "meanwhile") as well as the possibility that a given individual in society was capable of a range of attitudes, including deceptions ranging from innocent omission to conscious deceit. Moreover, we have to assume that there is no people who find it impossible to conceive of change in the individual as well as in historical situations. But the Malay texts apparently pick and choose when to be explicit about such relationships and when merely to assume complex relationships without marking them. How, then, do the chirographic texts of the Malay court tradition express the complexity that is the ineluctable concomitant of human societies? Moreover, what strategic factors govern the decisions between explicit marking and unmarked assumption?

Sweeney has addressed these problems by pointing to the differences between oral composition and written composition for an aural audience. He argued in his A Full Hearing that Malay written composition elaborated "the oral habit of juxtaposing two utterances in what [Sweeney] has termed dependence by association" so as to produce "much longer and more complicated utterances."(4) That said, however, it remains clear in Sweeney's work that the Malay court texts embody a chirographic conflict between orally-oriented and literately-oriented techniques. It is precisely at the point of this conflict that my studies begin. For the conflict between techniques provides another ground upon which to examine the dialectics of textual production in the Malay world. The dialectics of the work are found as much in structures deriving from textual orientation to postulated aural audiences as in imported structures of subordination more readily appropriate to written composition. Nevertheless, the most important matter here will remain the simultaneous demands of aural audience and literate writers.

I found my answer to these problems while rereading, for seemingly the umpteenth time, the apparently antinomian story of the derhaka (treason) of Tun Beraim Bapa against his father, Sultan Ahmad, in the Hikayat Raja-raja Pasai.(5) The glaring problem with this episode arises from the undeniable reversal of roles between the Sultan and his wayward son. The Sultan openly expresses incestuous desires for his daughters, falls into consternation when threatened by rogue vagabonds from Kalinga (India), and weeps like a coward when he hears threatening war drums; the son, on the other hand, is loyal and true, commands deep respect from his retainers, and moves quickly to defend his father no matter the circumstances. How is it that an episode which runs so contrary to audience expectations of royal righteousness and traitorous cowardice can be used as a centerpiece in an argument against derhaka in perhaps the earliest hikayat we still possess?(6) How, also, can it be that through centuries of homeostatic copying(7) can such a tale have survived with its obvious implications of lèse majesté? Moreover, how does this text construct its story such that its audience does not see it as disruptive of the authority and the legitimacy of the monarch?

These questions, of course, are merely expansions of my original quandary concerning the expression of complexity and contradiction in texts designated for performance to radically aural audiences. The solution lies not in the global approach with which I initiated my researches, but rather in its opposite: a close reading which queries every twist and turn whether on the level of the word, the phrase, the sentence, the "chunk"(8) or the episode. For when elements of a type are paratactically arranged, nothing requires that the character of the parataxis be uniform. In other words, the juxtaposition of two like elements can bespeak negation as readily as it can bespeak equation. Thus the particular character of a given juxtaposition, or the character of the interstices within a text, in framing or contextualizing the story may well be as defining of meaning and purpose as is the content of the story itself. The potential complexity therefrom scribes a wide arc across a landscape which has often been treated as formally and ineluctably uniform.

A graphic way to demonstrate how textual complexity can be derived from the interplay of several mechanical oppositions might be to consider the case of baseball. Non-baseball fans frequently express amazement that so much intellect can find so much pleasure in a game where the distinctions within elements are so narrow. A successful pitcher, for example, throws only two or three pitches. Each of these pitches, however, may be placed inside or outside the plate, and up or down in the strike zone. Lastly, there can be slight variations in speed and movement. Any one of these oppositions would not be sufficient to fool a sufficient number of batters to give a pitcher the edge he requires. But the combination of numerous such small oppositions creates a complexity which undermines prediction. In other words, the batter can guess, but the combination of two pitches with two sets of two locations each creates such a range of possibility that guessing alone will generally lose. The great joy of baseball, in the view of more than one fan who wasted too much time considering the problem, is in the complexity derived from its compounding of simple oppositions. All that said, each pitch is paratactically followed by another pitch, each batter by another batter, each game by another game.

Parataxis admits of equation and negation, what I shall designate as juxtaposition and reversal. Juxtaposition admits of substitution or embellishment; reversal admits of its own form of substitution or of undermining. Two like stories may find a reversal of the traits attributed to characters of like type, or a reversal of the positioning of similar traits in differing characters. Thus, we might expect to find the subtleties of these stories not within twists of discernible meaning, but more likely within the clash of structures and the discontinuities of purpose and expectation. However, these subtleties necessarily fade into obscurity when the critic views the text exclusively from a global, purposive perspective. In my view, the propensity to seek understanding of the texts as uniform phenomena in themselves predisposes critics to the same "occupational psychosis"(9) as that which the authors and editors of these texts employed in creating their postulated audiences. In other words, critics have happily allowed themselves to suffer the same false consciousness as the court audiences who listened to these texts in their native settings, notwithstanding the evident fact that critics, especially the colonial ones, tended to distrust the texts where local audiences, at least apparently, did not.

This compounding of juxtapositions and reversals results in an apparent flatness of description which, however, is belied by a depth available through reflection upon the results of small operations which do not refer to each other. So the depiction of social complexity came to rely more upon an immanent comparison of the unadmitted and unheard interstices between elements rather than upon the main positive elements of the individual stories which, in only apparently accidental combination, constitute the integral text. The opposition here is between the positive text along with its stated purposes as against a negatively configured and mechanically created space buried within the text. This split consciousness in the text is only possible because it relies upon what I shall designate as a pretense of unselfconsciousness.

This concept arises from the divergent forms of expected or "relied-upon" consciousness which a multiplicity of intended audiences attached to these texts. The positive text elicits a known consciousness from the aural recipients of these tales; it relies upon determinable and normative features of Malay social consciousness of the period. Source elements here include power relations, oral/aural suppositions, religious consciousness, and even ethnic identitarianism. The negative text - or the meaning immanent in the implied relationships within the unadmitted interstices in which juxtaposition and/or reversal are seated - relies upon a pretense of unselfconsciousness. Thus, positing these two simultaneous texts depends upon a radical distinction between two different sets of intended audiences. The literate audience, primarily composed of multi-lingual scribes, copyists and sometimes ministers, has the possibility, if not always the opportunity, of examining the text through reading. However, the aural audiences, which themselves can be broken into several contiguous but not identical parts, do not have this possibility. In short, the aural audience is more easily led into normative interpretations by reason of its susceptibility to the suggestion of established forms. Thus, the writer is free to ignore apparent contradictions because the audience cannot,, in essence, protest, leading to a technique whereby the contradictions in the text are merely allowed to exist without any admission that they are there. The text pretends that it is unconscious of what it is.

This "pretense of unconsciousness" has a dual utility. For the writer and his literate audiences, it permits the construction of complex worlds which still adhere to the requirements of a genre which exists for both literate and aural audiences. The situation is more complex for the hierarchy of aural audiences who ranged from powerholders such as the king and his high ministers to power-servers such as court officials of lesser rank to the rakyat (people) whose access to the texts was perhaps infrequent and always under the control of the court. For these audiences, the "pretense of unselfconsciousness" stroked their sense of the genre; it permitted them the assurance that the text was authoritative and legitimating despite any apparent lacunae of meaning in the interstices. These potentially transgressive juxtapositions tend to fly past the ear; their very ephemerality as aural devices guarantees that they will not inspire reflection. Moreover, a listening audience schooled in the expectations of the genre is able to supply generic(10) material in order to meet any gaps between the actual text and their expectations of the text. Hence, reflections on the text for aural audiences point back to the canonical center of words, sentences and chunks.

Several questions arise directly. One may ask why such a deceptive rhetorical practice need be employed when the texts purport explicitly to be normative. Moreover, one may ask whether the deceptions inhering in the textual system require conscious participation on the part of the writers and the sponsors of the texts, i.e., the kings. The answers to these questions derive both from the necessity that the texts be narratively compelling as well as from an epistemological split between aural audiences and literate producers, especially as concerns their relationships to Islam. Nothing is more boring than a text which merely extols. The enduring texts of the genre contain stories of decidedly intriguing narrative, certainly sufficient to hold spellbound a contemporary listening audience. The royal sponsors, too, desired a text which would compel both listening and normative reflection. So, the problem for writers, whether or not they were consciously aware of it, was to construct lively texts which represented in some fashion the actual anxieties of power without in any way constructing a text which provided a blueprint for an alternate system of governance. Moreover, the writers were charged with representing the relationship between Islam and temporal power in a fashion which well might be considered heterodox. Thus, they performed a delicate dance, and their fancy footwork relied upon an unadmitted conflation of content with mode, a transfer of political anxieties from explicit consideration to implicit acceptance.

Because this dissertation concerns what I hope will be an innovative manner of reading the Malay court textual tradition, my consideration of the historical development of critical "readings" of the Malay court textual genre must be strictly incidental to my larger purpose.(11) That said, the enduring problem which has confronted our field derives, paradoxically, from the tendency of critics to accept these texts at their word. Using Koster's terminology,(12) scholars have seen the texts first and foremost as "profitable" or useful in a context contemporary either with the text or with the latter-day critic. In the colonial era, such scholarly searching for clues to a putative Malay mind - whether historical, political or cultural - produced two, opposed results. Where Winstedt found most of the texts unoriginal, Wilkinson, perhaps reluctantly, found them productive of both the ideology and the mechanics of indigenous Malay power.(13) In both cases, however, what informed their views was a search for a utility contemporary with the critic rather than the text. This certainly should not surprise, given that the majority of the scholars of Malay literature throughout the nineteenth and into the twentieth centuries were administrators or conquerors first, and scholars only by avocation.

Benedict Anderson has understood the productive contradiction inherent in the colonial situation.(14) Anderson points out that many colonialist scholar/administrators, unlike present-day scholars, lived the majority of their lives in the Malay States or the Dutch East Indies; they spoke, read, wrote and thought in local languages; and, their scholarly hobbies consumed them day and night. On the other hand, what they sought to extract from their "appropriated" texts was dictated by expectations which they brought from outside, whether those were historical veracity, political guidance or an epic key to a glorious but subsequently shrouded past. In short, they unabashedly, and thus transparently, imported their own expectations to the texts. In these "transparent" expectations, perhaps no one was as disappointed as Winstedt, who opened the Preface to the 1939 Edition of his A History of Malay Literature with these words:

Any one who surveys the field of Malay literature will be struck by the amazing abundance of its foreign flora and the rarity of its indigenous growths. Malay folklore, even, is borrowed, most of it, from the vast store-house of Indian legend, an early crop garnered in the Hindu period, and later in the Islamic. ... Muslim prejudice has caused most of the works of the finest period of Malay literature to be neglected [either] ... because they are Hindu [or] ... because they are tinged with Persian heresy.(15)

It is certainly no surprise that Winstedt was cranky about the subject which he apparently loved enough that he devoted his life to its study. What might surprise, however, is Yusof A. Talib's 1989 "Introduction" which immediately follows the reprint of Winstedt's "Preface" in the 1991 edition:

Sir Richard Olaf Winstedt (1878-1966) was undoubtedly, the last and the greatest of the 'colonial administrator' scholars of British Malaya. He wrote, translated, compiled and researched prolifically on almost all things Malay.(16)

He goes on to "indicate briefly ... several aspects of [the] criticisms" of Winstedt's work undertaken by "philologists ... on account of 'the ambitiousness and extensiveness of his undertakings that [caused] many of the presuppositions that implicit in the writings of others [to] stand out so sharply in Winstedt's work."(17) But Yusof Talib dismisses the criticism in this fashion:

It is indeed tempting to dismiss Winstedt's work in a cavalier fashion. He was very much a pioneer - and his great contribution to scholarship has been the spadework he provided in unearthing and promoting the cultural heritage of the Malays. It was the task of contemporary scholarship to deal with his subjects in greater detail.

A number of glaring contradictions seem to emanate from this work. Firstly, if Winstedt indeed uncovered "the cultural heritage of the Malays," he himself avers that this heritage is more or less entirely of foreign origin. Secondly, Yusof Talib piquishly dismisses the critiques of Winstedt with nothing more than the word "cavalier." Surely this backhanded defense of the colonialist past runs contrary to the expectations of post-colonial scholarship.

That said, it would be easy enough to dismiss Yusof Talib as merely what Maoists might call a "comprador lackey of imperialist scholarship." Such a reduction, however, would conveniently sidestep the material underpinnings of the commonalities of worldview between Winstedt and Yusof Talib. What both express, and what furthermore paradoxically establishes their solidarity with those of Winstedt's critics to whom Yusof Talib refers, is that all are concerned with the materiality of the text. Moreover, what the colonialist past in scholarship shares with what I shall designate as the nationalist scholars of the present post-colonial states is that they both seek primarily to extract from the texts utility in the service of the power contemporary to the given critic. Both treat the text, if not the world, as their "oyster." In other words, both colonialist and post-colonialist critics share, in my view, a predilection for foregrounding their own expectations in examining the texts most particularly in regard to normative political theory.

Both the colonialist as well as the post-colonial, nationalist scholars approach these texts globally and with a priori intentions. What they conclude varies in content: where Winstedt found foreigners and degenerate power, Yusof Talib might find an ethnic or cultural justification of present-day modes of Malay political discourse.(18) But more significantly from the point of view of a purely literary analysis is that which neither finds: they cannot see that these texts are a thoroughly Malay genre, irrespective of how much derives from foreign sources, precisely because of their strategy and structure. That a given literature adopts a story from foreign sources is hardly news; what a given literature does with this story is what gives the lie to the notion of "borrowing." I contend in this dissertation that foreign provenance is of little significance once we take a magnifying glass to the structures of separating and combining, or of parsing and reassembling, which engender the texts' indigenous meaning.

Anderson has commented on the enduring quality of the work that the colonialists performed by reason of its attention to the "materiality" of the text. No matter what the philosophical, political or even ethical background of a given scholar, when he preserved a text that would otherwise be lost, or juxtaposed a credible Persian source to an albeit underestimated Malay result, he has done something that will endure through whatever fads and fashions might later trip through the larger intellectual world. I contend - more implicitly than explicitly in this dissertation - that the presently fashions in literary criticism, with their reduction of dialectical considerations of authorial intention in favor of foregrounding the present-day reader along with his/her needs and fancies, has unfortunately confirmed the inability of criticism to explore the hidden contours of the Malay court literary genre.

Th notion of a loss of literary critical moorings in the academic world brings us to a consideration of the effects - or, more pointedly, the surprising lack of effects - of what we might call "post-modernysticism" on the world of Malay/Indonesian literature. Anderson suggests that the genesis of these modern schools of thought derives from the same sources that produced what he calls the "theory market":

On the intellectual plane, the legitimation of this disciplinary ascendancy came from "theory", which functioned as "Burma" had once done for "Burmese Studies," that is, as the principle externally demarcating and internally unifying a particular range of scholarly enquiry. But the rush to theory drew its social energy from two American peculiarities. One of these was the entrepreneurial character of American academic life ... the second feature was the link of theory to public policy.(19)

The latter of these "American peculiarities" contributes additional force to those analysts of Malay and Indonesian literary sources for a utility of their own - to whit, anthropologists, political scientists, historians, and even the odd economist. One cannot entirely object to this, for literary sources are undeniably valuable adjuncts to the study of social phenomena. But the preponderance of literary studies based in these other fields raises the question of whether or not literary criticism can carve out a niche for itself in its own field commensurate with the unique importance of our project. Thus it is, sensibly enough, that literary studies must examine the literary object as an object both in itself and for itself. In this light, given the unusual primacy of the "theory market" in present-day literary studies, it is remarkable how little the theory buffs or even the post-colonialist literary project have contributed to the field of Malay literary studies. Like Anderson, I look to the material and historical causes for this, and find them primarily in the defocusing power which the Vietnam war had upon our area as well as in the dominance of anthropology as the primary mode of scholarly discourse about the archipelago.(20) The lack of any sustained inquiry equivalent to the subaltern studies such as we see from South Asianists, however, is something for which I find no satisfying explanation.(21)

This past lack, however, need not be a present or a future lack. I propose the only seemingly radical notion that we are now past the period of post-colonialism in Southeast Asia. Indonesia is in its third generation of post-colonial leadership, and the dominant inquiries concerning imperialism in the archipelago address not the increasingly invisible relics of Dutch occupation, but the idea that perhaps Indonesia has itself become an imperialist nation. While I do not entirely endorse that notion, it does point to a conception of local power not congruent with the broad lines of the post-colonialist literary enterprise. We will do well to view the development of new political schools of Asian neo-authoritarianism through the region as deriving from a similar national self-confidence grounded in the dissolution of post-colonialism as the dominant political discourse.

What, then, is the relevance of this to the present project? Literary critics of the Malay/Indonesian corpus have a unique opportunity to bypass the deformations that an excessive and market-driven mania for disembodied (perhaps "de-text-ualized") theory has visited upon literary studies elsewhere. I believe that our field will find greater strength in the continuing dominance of still-materialist critiques such as those of Maier or Sweeney or the recent, challenging work of Will Derks or the exciting work of Nancy Florida which I believe will come to have an enduring influence in our field.(22) Florida's incisive dissection and repositioning of the Javanese Babad Jaka Tingkir never abandons the text, nor does she feel it necessary to bring with her an agenda. Most importantly, with only a few insignificant exceptions, we find in her work an encouraging lack of such theoretical convolutions as would leave the text itself behind. Florida represents the antithesis of any uncritical conflation of literary studies with political projects which has resulted in an amorphous animal often misnamed "cultural studies." In short, Florida's work demonstrates that literary studies in the Malay/Indonesian world can stand on their own; we need no exterior political or culturalist justification.

These remarks should not deceive my reader into thinking that I oppose all theory. Area studies present their scholars with a unique opportunity to eschew theoretical unitarianism. By this I mean that we can pick and choose from theories as we find them useful; we are under less institutional and professional pressure than scholars in English or Comparative Literature departments to stake out a theoretical position as a kind of professional fortress. In this dissertation, I propose to approach theory with a view to unseating the market-driven tendency so as to employ it, as Anderson writes, "as the principle externally demarcating and internally unifying a particular range of scholarly enquiry." If the utility of theory comes to be seen as expansionist, responsive to immediacy, and globalizing only in comparative studies, then it will become the very opposite of Anderson's description: theory becomes the more useful as it becomes a principle internally functioning to demarcate significant structures and strategies so as to unify externally a particular range of scholarly inquiry the better that it might engage in the larger and more comparative literary discussions among genres and their scholars. In this sense, we must extract from theoretical discussions, as well as applications of theory in other specified contexts, only what we need so as to understand the "engines" of our texts; from this vantage point, we can the more successfully enter into comparative studies fully as ourselves (in that sense in which an intellectual self invests itself in its field) and not as derivative of externally defined discourses whether in a Winstedtian, or a Yusofian, or a "post-modernystical" sense.

We are at a critical conjuncture in the history of literary scholarship, facing a gathering revolt against the excesses of de-text-ualized theory. In the field of Malay/Indonesian literary studies, this means that we have the opportunity not "to throw the baby out with the bathwater," not to lose sight of what is enduring in the mechanical critiques of the colonialist scholars even as we understand that they were, after all, men of their own time and their own place in a world they both dominated politically and loved personally. Moreover, we have the opportunity to move into the new period of untrammeled independence in Southeast Asia ready to engage and capable of cooperating with the nationalist scholars who have never abandoned these texts as material.

It is with this project in mind in particular, that I propose, inter alia, to focus upon the work performed by the writers in the Malay court world, whether they be authors, compilers, copyists or scribes. Foregrounding the textual effects of the social, political and structural contradictions which the writers faced foregrounds the necessity for a method of textual dissection centered upon the telling interstices, the not-random juxtapositions and the irrepressible reversals through which polysemic meanings came to exist in these texts. For parataxis in the hands a writerly caste, as in any literary way of life, does not delimit human consciousness; rather it shapes the expression of its full range of complexity. By persistently keeping in view the writers and the conditions under which they worked, this examination will seek to uncover in their product the traces of their minds and the structures which they imposed.


1 The term hikayat includes texts produced outside the Malay courts; moreover, many court texts have titles or references not including the term hikayat. Nonetheless, taking all that into account, using hikayat as the short reference to the Malay Muslim court textual genre finds support in those few court texts which mention public readings from the genre. See below, chapter one, for further discussion on this subject; see the concluding chapter six below for a discussion on genre. [return to text]

2 On this term, see Ong, 1982:24. A chirographic society is one in which written texts are produced primarily to be read to aural audiences. In other words, such a society is not fully literate, but preservation and presentation of ideas in written form is possible and even prevalent. Sweeney has addressed the Malay example of this phenomenon case in depth in his influential A Full Hearing (1987). [return to text]

3 See Sweeney, 1987. Throughout this work, I use the term "aural" when referring to the process of hearing, and "oral" when referring to the process of speaking or performing spoken texts. This avoids the oxymoron in a term such as "oral audience" given that the audience is doing the listening not the speaking. [return to text]

4 Sweeney, 1987:224. [return to text]

5 See below, chapter two, for an extensive discussion of this story. [return to text]

6 More properly, one might say "the likely earliest hikayat a subsequent copy of which we still possess." The difference here is that all presently extant manuscripts of the Malay court genre were copied some centuries after the original work was written. The exact relationship between presently possessed copies and originals remains a vexatious problem for Malayists. We know that scribes felt free to make alterations, but given the lack of numerous intermediate copies, we can only speculate about the principles underlying their choices. [return to text]

7 By "homeostatic copying" I refer to the process, delineated by Goody (1968) whereby radically oral storytellers adjust texts to suit changing life conditions either unconsciously or at least without a concept of faithfulness to an unalterable original. [return to text]

8 I derive the term "chunk" from Ong. Concerning this, Sweeney writes: "In an oral society or radically oral manuscript culture such as traditional Malay society, while the schemata are fewer in number than in a print society, the schematic "chunks" are much bigger than those to which we are accustomed, and they possess a more distinctive form to facilitate memorization. Even though all human discourse is by nature formulaic, the fact that the units tend to be so much larger in an orally oriented culture leads us to see its literature and oral performance as schematically or formulaically composed." (1987:13) The "chunk" in this sense, is a unit of discourse transportable by an oral performer or a writer from place to place within a text. [return to text]

9 See below, chapter one, for a discussion of this term which I have derived from Kenneth Burke. [return to text]

10 Throughout this work, I use the term "generic" as the adjectival form of "genre." [return to text]

11 See Sweeney (1987) and Maier (1988) for further discussion of the intellectual genealogy of Malay literary criticism. [return to text]

12 Koster, 1993. [return to text]

13 Wilkinson, 1922. [return to text]

14 Anderson, 1992:25-31. [return to text]

15 Winstedt, 1939:iii. [return to text]

16 Winstedt, 1991:1. Curiously, this version of the Winstedt's work adds the word "Classical" to the title: A History of Classical Malay History. The oddity here is that Winstedt, despite his project of cataloguing the origins of Malay literature, felt no need to align it with the notion of the classical, while Yusof Talib in the era of independence apparently did. [return to text]

17 Page 1. The nested quote is from Sweeney, 1987:24. I have interpolated several words to make the quote read correctly because the original sentence reads strangely. [return to text]

18 Yusof Talib is a Singaporean. [return to text]

19 Anderson, 1992:31-2. [return to text]

20 Briefly put, the first of these causes points to the fact that the focus of American political as well as academic attention to the Vietnam War and its concomitants served to undermine a larger or broader concern with other parts of Southeast Asia. More than one scholar has noted that the relative obscurity of the events of 1965-66 in Indonesia derived from the curious position of Indonesia as the conveniently invisible giant of the region. The influence of the second of these causes, while less sinister, has been equally profound. The diversity of the Indonesian and Malaysian peoples alongside their remoteness from modern interferences engendered the primacy of anthropology as the privileged mode of academic, Malay/Indonesianist discourse. Viewed solely from the perspective of anthropology itself, this arrangement has been tremendously productive. But I contend that scholarship in the area must not continue to be a zero-sum game; literary researches must establish their own groundwork not dependent exclusively upon their utility in the service of other intellectual discourses. Remarkably, despite the explosion of attention to the region in light of the recent economic developments, neither literary criticism itself nor the other disciplines associated with Southeast Asia have fostered this diversification in academic resource application. This matter, of course, is at best tangential to my project here; I hope to address it in greater depth upon the completion of the present work. [return to text]

21 I want to thank Dr. C.W. Watson of Kent University with whom I discussed these issues at length in February 1997. [return to text]

22 Derks, 1994 and 1996; Florida, 1995. [return to text]

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