The New Malay Woman: The Rise of the Modern Female Subject and Transnational Encounters in Postcolonial Malay Literature

  • Alicia IzharuddinEmail author
Part of the Asia in Transition book series (AT, volume 6)


The new Malay woman in modern Malay literature emerged during a period of unflattering representations of female characters in the Malay literary canon and lowbrow fiction by male writers of the 1960s. By contrast, the emancipated new Malay woman, a creation of women writers, is a departure from her literary predecessors and contemporaries of passive, self-sacrificing domestic women. She is a product of early postcolonial modernisation and other institutional policies put in place to elevate the Malay community in Malaya. Two short stories from the period by Hamsiah Abdul Hamid— Tandus (Desolation, 1964) and Timor dan Barat (East and West, 1964) about overseas travel and cross-cultural encounters provide a vantage point for examining the construction of the new Malay woman in modern Malay literature. They are read against other more well-known texts of the decade to demonstrate the emergence of the modern new woman through the writing of the romantic self and cross-cultural positionality in post-imperial Malaya. This chapter argues that the new Malay woman in Malay literature was created at a specific time in history and was instrumental in promoting the advancement of Malay society.


Malay literature Hamsiah Abdul Hamid New Malay woman Malay society 


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© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MalayaKuala LumpurMalaysia

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