Wartime imaginations of an archipelagic community: Fajar Asia and the quest for peninsula Malayan and Indonesian unity
ABSTRACT During a brief period in the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia, Malaya, including Singapore, was administratively placed with Sumatra under Japan’s 25th Army. From 28 March 1942 to April 1943, the two territories that had been separated by British and Dutch colonial rule since the mid-nineteenth century were considered one territory. This article explores how Malay intellectuals, through articles written in the magazine Fajar Asia, took advantage of this unprecedented opportunity to strive for a Malaya-Sumatra and Malaya-Indonesia community. This article will analyse the various wartime imaginings of a joint archipelagic community within the pages of Fajar Asia and highlight tensions within this project which resulted in an impasse as to how such a unity should or could be achieved.
KEYWORDS: Malaya, Japanese occupation, Malay archipelago, Za’ba, Malay language, newspapers, World War II, Fajar Asia
Sandra Khor Manickam is Lecturer at the Department of History, Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands. She previously held positions at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore and Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Her research deals with the history of race and anthropology in colonial Malaya and the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia. Her book, Taming the Wild: Aborigines and Racial Knowledge in Colonial Malaya, was published in 2015 by NUS Press and her articles have appeared in the Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Asian Studies Review and the Indonesian and Malay World. Her latest project involves researching the history of medicine during the Japanese occupation of Malaya, along with Naoko Iioka.