After Silencing: Politics of Memory and Contemporary Cold War Narrative of the Left in Singapore and Malaysia (噤啞之後:新馬左翼歷史的記憶政治 與當代冷戰敘事)

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    Abstract

    The past two decades saw the emergence of publication of historical materials and production of creative works about the leftist history in Singapore and Malaysia. This new culture of remembering manifests a breakthrough in the long-standing silence and taboo, and it is also a response to the current state of the society in the post-Cold War era. This essay focuses on the intertwined aspects of historical interpretation and affective memory. It examines the politics of memory by which contemporary cultural producers remember history through different mediums, and, to a certain extent, reflect their self-recognition. This essay analyses three different aspects of the remembrance of leftist history: memory contestations, memory reorganization and generational memories. It discusses the ways in which leftist history in Singapore and Malaysia has become a "site of memory." The first section explores the Singapore context in which leftist history has been a site of battlefield in articulating national memories and deconstructing the party-state history of Singapore. Secondly, the essay illustrates the ways former Malayan communist party members reorganize their memories in contemporary times by connecting the communist struggles with the minority rights struggles in the Chinese community in Malaysia. It argues that this is the comrades' approach to continue their struggles and to seek for historical recognition, though it is not without problems. The third section analyses the transmission of generational memories, exploring the ways young documentary filmmakers remember leftist history. It shows how nostalgic imagination and ethnic anxiety help formulate the representation of these memories. All of these "memory texts" reflect upon and critique on the Cold war mentality, while at the same time reveal the fact that some core problems in the historical past still very much resonates in the site of memory today.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)95-130
    JournalTaiwan Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
    Volume15
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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