This course provides a general view of multicultural encounters in the SE Asian archipelago (including peninsular Malaysia) through historical and literary lenses. Starting with a concept of multiculturalism developed for this region in particular, the course introduces the historical tendency of Malayo-Indonesian civilization to absorb foreign ideas and persons, and goes on to considers both how the pluralistic culture of the region was increasingly affected by racial policies instituted during European colonization and how the lives of colonial subjects resisted governing categories that attempted to fix racial and cultural categories. Important literary texts by Javanese, Malay, English, Dutch, Chinese and Tamil authors dating from the 19th and 20th centuries are informed by recent histories of these people by contemporary scholars. Attention will be given to the materiality and hybridity of the regional cultures by introducing writing systems and literary methods they used to record their experiences of life in the multicultural archipelago.
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J. Casey Hammond