By Wang Gungwu
The e-book addresses questions resembling: how may still historians deal with the sooner pasts of every state and the nationalism that guided the nation-building initiatives? the place did political tradition are available in, in particular whilst facing glossy demanding situations of sophistication, secularism and ethnicity? What half do exterior or nearby pressures play whilst the countries are nonetheless being equipped? The authors have proposal deeply in regards to the problems with writing nation-building histories and feature attempted to place them not just within the standpoint of Southeast Asian advancements of the prior 5 a long time, but additionally the bigger components of historiography this present day.
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Extra info for Nation Building: Five Southeast Asian Histories
Typical of the conventional criticism of the first Phibun government, and by implication of Luang Wichit’s role in directing the nation-building project, is the following remark of Professor Chai-anan Samudavanija about the creation of “a new state-identity” by the post-1932 elite: This new state-identity … negated the principles of constitutionalism. It promoted centralization of state power and authoritarianism, resulting in a modern variant of absolutism…. The identity of the nation and the state became one under the name of Thailand.
It is also notable for its pioneering attempt at rethinking the concept of nation-building in light of current perspectives on nationalism that, in the wake of the failures of nationbuilding projects in Asia and Africa during the 1980s and 1990s, sought to “deconstruct” the nation by exposing its constructedness and critiquing the idea of its homogeneity (Smith 1998, p. 3). Ileto’s approach stresses the constitutive role of historical discourses in shaping not just nation-building policies in the Philippines, but also ideas about time, power, and change that inform and regulate Filipino nationalist thought and action.
A key argument in Ileto’s work concerns the role of writings on the nation, especially writings on the history of the nation, in the “building” of the nation-state. Ileto holds that history functioned as an implement for establishing and regulating “modernity”. It served as the scaffolding on which the state constructed its rationale for existence, as well as its policies and practices. In this sense, writings of and on history — even scholarly ones — cannot be treated as abstract commentaries on something called Filipino nationalism.