The Long Shadow of the 19th Century


Author: Farish A. Noor
ISBN: 9789672328612
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Matahari

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Stamford Raffles, James Brooke, John Crawfurd and Anna Leonowens were some of those who came from Europe or the United States to Southeast Asia in the nineteenth century — and then wrote about what they saw.

Their writings deserve to be read now for what they truly were: Not objective accounts of a Southeast Asia frozen in imperial time but rather as culturally myopic and perspectivist works that betray the subject-positions of the authors themselves. Reading them would allow us to write the history of the East-West encounter through critical lenses that demonstrate the workings of power-knowledge in the elaborate war-economy of racialised colonial-capitalism.

Many of the tropes used by these colonial-era scholars and travellers, such as the indolence or savagery of the native population, are still very much in use today  — which means we still live in the long shadow of the 19th century.