Letting colonial literature reveal its wealth – and ambivalence


Official reports from colonial times are heavily used by researchers looking into our past. But Dr Mohamad Rashidi Mohd Pakri reminds us that we should also study the works of fiction left by the colonialists

Dr Mohamad Rashidi Mohd Pakri is from Baling, but has been living in Penang for the better part of the past 20 years. This is thanks to Universiti Sains Malaysia's (USM) Academic Staff Training Scheme, which sponsors candidates to pursue their Masters or PhD degrees with the condition of returning to USM as lecturers.

Rashidi’s forte? Colonial and postcolonial literature. His office shelves are full of books on the subject, from Joseph Conrad and Ben Okri to huge tomes on literary studies. Indeed, he sees much to explore in this field: “I noticed that not many people have looked at colonial fiction. I don’t deny the fact that historians have done a lot on our past, but as far as colonial fiction is concerned, there seems to be a disconnect in this area.”

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