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Department of the Languages and Cultures of South East Asia

Ms Sangeeta Bhardwaj

BEd in The Teaching of English as a Second Language, MA in Postcolonial Literature in English

Overview

Sangeeta Bhardwaj
Name:
Ms Sangeeta Bhardwaj
Email address:
Thesis title:
Malaysia/Singapore Literature in English: Representations of the Malaysian Punjabi Community
Year of Study:
Final Year
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

This research looks at the representation of the Punjabi community in Malaysian and Singaporean Literature in English. The aim here is: to analyse how these writings support, or contradict, historical narratives pertaining to the Punjabi migration to Malaya (now Malaysia); to examine if there is a common collective consciousness in these writings; to study the creation of the Malaysian Punjabi identity, in other words how this group has assimilated into becoming Malaysian as represented in these works; and to see if these writings are actually an allegory of the mixed community in Malaysia. In carrying out this research, the thesis starts by first examining the representations of the Punjabis in early Malaysian writings in English – these were works by European writes who were mostly expatriates, officials, and travellers - at the time when Malaya was a British colony as this was the period when there was the influx of Punjabi migration to Malaya. The study then moves to look at self-representation or how the Punjabi Malaysian/Singaporean writers represent their community in writings in English. Thus the analysis of the texts is carried chronologically, beginning with the early European writings in English in Malaya to the works of Punjabi writers of Modern Malaysia. The works of Singapore Punjabi writers in English are included in this study as Singapore Punjabis share the samehistory of migration to Malaya, for Singapore was part of Malaya until 1963 when it became a separate country from Malaysia. As for its framework of analysis, this study is purely texts

based and therefore uses discourse analysis as its method of data collection. The theory of

Postcolonialism and its concepts such as ‘the imagined

community’; ‘hybridity’, ‘migration’, ‘diaspora’ and so on informs as the methodology of this

study. Though considerable research has been carried out on the representation of the Indian

diaspora in Malaysian Literature in English, this research differs from the rest in the sense that

it studies the Punjabis in the country. Most studies to date have focused on the South Indian

to be specific the Tamil community in the country. This research however by the position it

takes in studying the Malaysian Punjabi, and in doing so actually highlighting the heterogeneity

of the Indian community in Malaysia, as well as bringing to the centre of attention writers in

Malaysia who are of Punjabi origin, this research fills a gap in the study of the ‘the Indian

diaspora in Malaysian’, and thus makes its contribution of knowledge in field of ‘Malaysian

Literature in English’.

PhD Conferences

  • 2009 Hyderabad, India: Conference on Media Studies. Paper presented: Re-presenting Ravan: Media and the Re-visioning of Socio-Cultural History.
  • 2006 Mysore, India: Conference on the works of R.K. Narayan. Paper presented: The Latent Re-visioning of History: R.K. Narayan’s A Tiger for Malgudi.