Time to Reform Multicultural Policy

I’ve had an essay published in Griffith Review, in a special issue called ‘State of Hope’, focused on South Australia as a testing ground for government-led social reform since the era of former Premier Don Dunstan.

I haven’t been able to participate in any of the nostalgia for South Australia’s past, having only arrived just as Mike Rann was replaced with Jay Weatherill. All the same, my essay addresses contemporary possibilities for new rounds of social reform, in this case in relation to how state governments “manage” the growing cultural diversity of their populations through the policy framework we refer to as multiculturalism.

The essay reflects on my experience organising InterculturAdelaide, a policy co-design workshop I convened in 2015, and of navigating the multicultural arena and the way it insists on assigning non-white Australians within discrete and bounded cultural silos. These silos are then targeted by political parties in their competitive quest to mobilise each cultural “community” as a supportive political constituency. Yet surely a focus on equitable interaction across purported cultural boundaries is a better approach for equipping Australians to navigate their own society and their increasingly multipolar region?

The essay, ‘Intercultural Futures: The Fraught Politics of Multiculturalism,’ is available for purchase from Griffith Review.

Review in Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde

Cover of the Dutch journal Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde.

The Dutch journal Bijdragen tot de taal-, land- en volkenkunde / Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia has published a review by Carool Kersten of an edited volume in which I published a chapter, namely From Anatolia to Aceh. Ottomans, Turks and Southeast Asia, edited by A.C.S. Peacock and Annabel Teh Gallop.

Kersten’s specific comments on my work are:

The chapters by two other young promising historians, Amrita Malhi and Chiara Formichi, on British Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies respectively, bring into the twentieth century the study of Southeast Asian interest in the Ottoman Empire as well as that of the contemporary Turkish Republic. Read together, they record a shift from a fascination with Ottoman Caliphal pretences to the vivid interest exhibited by anti-colonial activists in the achievements of Kemal Atatürk.

Review in Indonesia

The American journal Indonesia has published a review by Robert W. Hefner of an edited volume in which I published a chapter, namely From Anatolia to Aceh. Ottomans, Turks and Southeast Asia, edited by A.C.S. Peacock and Annabel Teh Gallop.

Hefner’s specific comments on my work are:

In chapter ten, Amrita Malhi examines the repeated invocations of the Ottoman Caliphate made by native rulers in the Malay peninsula between 1874 and 1928, as the British made their “forward movement” into the previously independent Malay states. In an original and important reading of these overlooked events, Malhi demonstrates that the practice of invoking the Caliphate was emblematic of a profound reworking of the global order, recognized by Malay Muslims, and expressed in their increasingly desperate appeals to the ideal of the Caliphate even as a global British imperialism was ushering in the Ottoman collapse.

The Allure of the Caliphate in Southeast Asia

 

My chapter appears in this edited volume on interconnections between Ottoman Turkey and Southeast Asia, edited by Andrew Peacock and Annabel Gallop.

Institutions like Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies are beginning to call attention to the likelihood that the Islamic State is consolidating its Southeast Asian networks with terror attacks in mind.

Today, I had a book chapter published which seeks to move beyond the threat-and-response rhythm created by groups like the Islamic State and national governments in our region and around the world. Instead, I’ve worked to show that the allure of the Caliphate in Southeast Asia has a history, indeed one that can be reconstructed from fragments of evidence left behind by the British in Malaya, for example. My chapter analyses when and why Malay Muslims invoked the Ottoman Caliphate in resistance movements against British colonisation on the Malay Peninsula.

The chapter is called ‘We Hope to Raise the “Bendera Stambul”: British Forward Movement and the Ottoman Caliphate on the Malay Peninsula’.

  • As the book is acquired by Australian libraries, holdings should begin to appear in Trove, the online catalogue of the National Library of Australia.

New Frontiers of Land Control

The Routledge edited volume, New Frontiers of Land Control.

The Journal of Peasant Studies special issue, New Frontiers of Land Control, has now been published by Routledge as an edited volume. Like the original journal special issue, this volume contains my piece, ‘Making Spaces, Making Subjects: Land, Enclosure and Islam in Colonial Malaya’.

A preview is available on Google Books.

Barisan Nasional and PAS in the 1990s

The edited volume, Malaysia: Islam, Society and Politics.

In 2003, I published a book chapter based on my Honours thesis in a festschrift for Clive Kessler, edited by Virginia Hooker and Norani Othman, called Malaysia: Islam, Society and Politics. In it, I argued that the contest between the Barisan Nasional government and PAS throughout the 1990s was based in two competing discourses around how Islam should be understood. On one side was the critique of development and unfettered market capitalism espoused by PAS, usually described as a ‘traditionalist’ Muslim party. On the other stood the pro-market and strongly developmentalist Barisan Nasional, led at the time by Mahathir Mohamad, who was often characterised as a ‘modernist’ or ‘moderniser’.

A preview is available on Google Books.

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