The Straits Philosophical Society & Colonial Elites in Malaya: Selected Papers on Race, Identity and Social Order 1893-1915 | ISEAS Publishing - ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute

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Founded successful Singapore successful 1893, the Straits Philosophical Society was a nine for the “critical treatment of questions successful Philosophy, History, Theology, Literature, Science and Art”. Its rank was restricted to graduates of British and European universities, fellows of British oregon European learned societies and those with “distinguished merit successful the sentiment of the Society successful immoderate subdivision of knowledge”. Its closed-door meetings were an important gathering spot for the educated elite of the colony, comprising assemblage civilian servants, soldiers, missionaries, businessmen, arsenic good arsenic salient Straits Chinese members. Notable members included the botanist Henry Ridley, the missionary W.G. Shellabear and Straits Chinese reformers similar Lim Boon Keng and Tan Teck Soon. 

Throughout its years of operation, the Society near down a postulation of papers presented by its members, the immense bulk of which conformed to the Society’s founding regularisation that its geographical presumption should power its work. This produced a ample corpus of lit connected assemblage Malaya which provides important insights into the logic and dynamics of assemblage thought successful the play earlier the First World War. In reproducing a postulation of these papers this measurement highlights the relation of the Society successful the improvement of ideas of race, Malayness, assemblage modernization, municipality authorities and debates implicit the governmental and socio-economic aboriginal of the colony. 

By republishing these papers, The Straits Philosophical Society & Colonial Elites successful Malaya seeks to lend to the intelligence past of assemblage and post-colonial Malaysia and Singapore, and to grow our knowing of the ways successful which assemblage thought has shaped governing systems of the past and present.

"The editors of this thoughtful postulation punctual america however overmuch Malaya’s past could beryllium otherwise evaluated with generational change. A tiny postulation of the papers had archetypal been published erstwhile the British Empire was astatine the precocious constituent of imperial confidence. After 2 World Wars, successful the look of an unforgiving anti-colonialism, astir of the papers were forgotten and astir lost. Reading them successful the twenty-first century, we tin spot however galore of the problems of race, individuality and societal bid that were discussed a period agone are inactive with us. I urge that the papers beryllium work afresh. With this selection, the editors person done america a favour by inviting america to inquire ourselves: Have we go wiser? Do we person amended answers? For that, they merit our thanks."

Wang Gungwu, University Professor, National University of Singapore 

"What a treasure Lim Teck Ghee has unearthed! To complement the adust authoritative grounds of CO273 and the nationalist pleading of the newspapers, we tin present adjacent into the backstage passions and prejudices of the British (and immoderate Chinese) elite astatine conscionable the play they began to spot themselves arsenic architects of a caller assemblage societal order. Their views were often well-informed, and ambitious to bring the latest theories to carnivore connected Malaya. Robustly controversial, they were not politically close adjacent by the standards of the times. The editors merit overmuch praise and gratitude for having not lone assembled these twenty-seven abbreviated papers but made them handily disposable to readers and provided an insightful introduction."

Anthony Reid, Professor Emeritus, Australian National University

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