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Norulhuda Othman, M.Sc.

Power Constructs in the Southeast Asian Archipelago. A Comparative Study of European (Portuguese & Italian) Travelogues and Malay Historiographical Chronicles between 1500 and 1700

Dissertation Abstract

My research focuses on the dynamic role of literature in providing us with details of globalisation patterns and the dynamics of power in the Southeast Asian archipelago between the period 1500 and 1700. I will utilise literature to disentangle the foundational ideas and structure of power in the island parts of Southeast Asia within 1500 and 1700. The objective of this research is to trace the evolution of power constructs in the archipelago.
The texts I will be looking at are travel logs and travel literature from Portuguese and Italian sources as well as chronicles from the Malay world produced and written during this time period. As Malay was the lingua franca of the region during the time period of my study, the Malay world is defined broadly to include the expanse of archipelagic Southeast Asia. The Portuguese and Italian sources will provide a physical and illustrative account of globalising instances during this period. It should also provide an objective account of power dynamics in the archipelago by way of detached but meticulous descriptions and illustrations. On the other hand the Malay chronicles will provide an intrinsic definition of power rooted in the socio-cultural conscience of the region. This latter aspect is crucial as it also reflects the selective incorporation and rejection of both foreign and local values in the archipelagos' construction of power.
The research is an epistemological analysis of power in the Malay Archipelago with a multidisciplinary approach (discourse analysis and historiographical analysis). The research outcome will not only be relevant to Literary Studies but also to the wider field of the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Short CV

Since 2015 PhD Candidate at the Research Training Group

2005-2011: Lecturer for Southeast Asian Studies, University of Malaya

2001: M.Sc. Comparative Politics, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom

2000: B.A. (Hons.) Philosophy, Politics and Economics, University of East Anglia, United Kingdom