University of Nottingham Malaysia
University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute-Malaysia (UoNARI-M)

What is the Squatter like as a Man?

14th November 2022
For more information on this event, kindly e-mail UoNARI-M.
University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute-Malaysia Seminar - ‘What is the Squatter like as a Man?’: Photography in the Service of Resettlement in Emergency-era Malaya

Image: Courtesy of the National Archives, London

This paper explores the ways in which photography as a medium was used by the British colonial state and its allies in Malaya to promote the supposed success of resettlement – the counterinsurgency scheme through which around half a million people were moved into New Villages during the Malayan Emergency (1948–1960). While the paper considers the ways in which the state created the racialised category of the ‘squatter’ (i.e., rural Chinese who were the main object of resettlement) through official photography, it also argues for the need to consider such photography within broader developments in Southeast Asia during the early 1950s. These include the rise of photography as an amateur pastime and commercial enterprise in the region, the role of Malayan photographers as part of the state propaganda apparatus, and the dominance of Humanist photojournalism as a mode of expression in the same period. In doing this, the paper suggests that the interaction between colonial photography and commercial photojournalism in Malaya complicates the extant literature on the ‘colonial gaze’ while contributing to an emerging body of research on the tensions between colonialism and Humanism in early post-war photography.


Date: 14 November 2022, Monday
Time: 14:00 to 15:30 (GMT +8)
Location: F4B09a
                 The University of Nottingham Malaysia
                 Jalan Broga 43000 Semenyih Selangor

This paper is funded by:

About the speaker

Jeremy E. Taylor is Professor of Modern History at the University of Nottingham UK. He works on the social and cultural history of East and Southeast Asia. He is the author or over thirty peer-reviewed journal papers and chapters, and has written or edited six books, including Iconographies of Occupation: Visual Cultures in Wang Jingwei’s China (2021) and, with Lanjun Xu, Chineseness and the Cold War (2021). Research for this seminar paper was undertaken through the COTCA Project and received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement ID 682081).

University of Nottingham Malaysia

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