'My Country’/’Our Country’: Race Dynamics and Contesting Nationalisms in Lloyd Fernando's "Green is the Colour" and Shirley Geok-lin Lim's "Joss and Gold"

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Abstract

This paper seeks to analyze the portrayal of race dynamics and contesting nationalisms in Lloyd Fernando's Green is the Colour (1993) and Shirley Geok-lin Lim's Joss and Gold (2001). Although these two novels by Malaysian writers are separated by time, narrative style, and scope, they are brought together by their thematic interests and, in particular, their solutions and visions for the problematic race relations and rival nationalisms in the newly emergent Malaysia, before and after the fateful riots of May 13,1969. What I wish to argue is that, in their respective novels, both Fernando and Lim have rejected all myopic, monolithic, unipolar visions of the nation for one that is inclusive, cohesive, equitable, reciprocal, and harmonious. In other words, they are both opposed to all forms of exclusionary nationalism and racially hierarchic structures that create a binary of self/other, center/margin, and advocate the formation of a united, "rainbow" Malaysia, or a "Bangsa Malaysia" (Malaysian nation/race). They believe that this new formation will eventually result in the dismantling of all preferential treatment or ethnic dichotomy and enable the people and cultures in the country to coexist and even come together through a slow evolutionary process. Thus Malaysia will emerge as one people and one nation, overcoming its current hierarchic and fragmentary state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-89
Number of pages25
JournalCrossroads: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Southeast Asian Studies
Volume18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes

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