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Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

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Chinese -- Malaysia -- Social conditions, Ah Loy Yap (1837-1885), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) -- Biography


The exploration of differing historical interpretations has become an area of growing interest to anthropologists and historians alike, who have come to recognize that diverse interpretations of the same events can create as powerful a force for future actions as the events themselves. Following this approach, history becomes not so much a narrative progression of events, as shifts in meaning structures over time. The impact of such a perspective on scholars of Southeast Asian societies has led to both an increasingly critical use of colonial sources as well as to renewed interest in native or indigenous documents. We have also come to expect major divisions not only between colonialist and indigenous views, but among indigenous views themselves. This is particularly true in societies divided by class and ethnicity such as Malaysia where competing political and cultural interests can be expected to produce markedly different versions of past events. Similarly, we can predict that ongoing shifts in political and cultural relations will create continued transformations in interpretations over time.


Originally appeared in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies. Copyright © The National University of Singapore 1988.



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