Re-writing Colonial Malaysia/ Re-righting unauthorized histories in Bernice Chauly’s Memoir Growing up with Ghosts

Hatem Ben Jemia


Postmodern theories in literature have engendered significant conceptual reviews at the level of historical representation, which has enhanced revisionist interventions into the canonized narrative of national history and its intrinsic assumptions of unity, linearity, and coherence, They triggered profound epistemological shifts in the patterns of historical writings in national literature. Since the 1970s, the monolithic past narratives underpinned in the foundational historical texts have been increasingly superseded by less static orientations which have overruled orthodox standards and interrogated the hegemonic representational models systematically perpetuated by the nationalist enterprise and dogmatically endorsed by the first generation of national writers. Under the influence of the current representational upheavals in the arena of literature, the blossoming postcolonial life writings have significantly contributed to the process of redefining the narrative of national history beyond the atavistic rhetoric of postcolonial nationalism and its underlying exclusionary paradigms. These emergent life writings gestures towards envisioning subversive counter-hegemonic representations of the past, which aim ultimately at achieving a rupture with the totalizing historical narratives My paper delves, particularly, into the transgression of generic boundaries and the dissolution of narrative borders characterizing the autobiographical representation of colonial Malaysia in Bernice Chauly’s memoir Growing up with Ghosts



Colonial Malaysia, Postmodern Memoir, Counter-histories, Generic transgression, Perspectival shift

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