Historicism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination
The paper examines the development and deployment of a particular conception of Chinese history by an influential Chinese Singaporean intellectual, Tan Teck Soon, during the "culture wars" which occurred in Singapore under British colonial rule from 1890 to 1915. Tan, a prominent journalist, political activist, philosopher and cultural reformer, elaborated an historicist understanding of Chinese dynastic history, thereby emphasising themes of change, dynamism, progress and popular sovereignty in his conception of the centuries-long development of Chinese society. The paper explores a significant form of interrelationship between the discipline fields of history and politics: the strategic uses that can be made of history for political purposes. In particular this analysis highlights the role that understandings of history could play in colonial contexts in the development of counter-hegemonic discourses capable of resisting and challenging the dominant imperialist ideology.
Keywords: historicism, anti-colonialism, Singapore, resistance, counter-hegemonic discourse
Dr Christine Doran
Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Business and Arts, Charles Darwin University