Reclaiming Adat: Contemporary Malaysian Film and Literature

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By Cheng Khoo Gaik

In the early 1990s, the animist and Hindu traces of adat (Malay custom) became contentious for resurgent Islam in Malaysia. Filmmakers, intellectuals and writers responded by deploying adat to counter the homogenising aspects of both Islamic discourse and globalisation in this period. Their revitalisation project involved an emphasis on sexuality and a return to archaic forms such as magic and traditional healing.

In Reclaiming Adat, Khoo Gaik Cheng uses close textual readings of literature and film to reveal tensions between gender, modernity and nation within these art forms. The book weaves a wealth of cultural theory into a rare analysis of Malay cinema and the output of new Malaysian writers working mainly in English, and makes a significant contribution to understanding the complexities embedded in modern Malaysian culture, politics and identity.


Publication Year: 2006
272 pages, 229mm x 152mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-338-1, Paperback

NUS Press