In 1954, the Malay literary movement ASAS 50 declared itself in favour of Rumi as the script for the Malay language. In 2019, controversy erupted in Malaysia over the (re-)introduction of material featuring Jawi--Malay written in an adapted form of Arabic script--to the national school curriculum. This talk will examine these two moments, at either end of Malaysia's postcolonial history, for what they reveal about the politicisation and Islamisation of the Jawi script. It will present a number of examples of Jawi script usage for both sacred and secular purposes, across its more than 500 year history, to consider to what extent Jawi should be considered intrinsically Islamic, and what implications this may have for its future in contemporary Malaysia.
Originally from Kuala Lumpur, Dr Mulaika Hijjas is Senior Lecturer in South East Asian Studies at SOAS University of London, where she specialises in the Malay manuscript tradition but also teaches literature and cultural studies of the region. She held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at SOAS from 2009-14. Her monograph, Victorious Wives: The Disguised Heroine in Nineteenth-Century Malay Syair, was published by NUS Press in 2010, and her articles have appeared in Indonesia and the Malay World, The Journal of Southeast Asian Studies and South East Asia Research. She was co-managing editor of Indonesia and the Malay World from 2016 to 2019. She is the principal investigator of the Leverhulme Research Leadership Award project, Mapping Sumatra's manuscript cultures, to commence in September 2021.
More details on the ANU Malaysia Institute Seminar Series 2021