About the Workshop

This workshop examined how the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960) has been depicted in film and literature since the time of the Emergency up to the present day. To understand the multiple perspectives and stories that have been told about these events, this workshop encompassed representations from different national contexts and historical periods, as well as from a range of literary and cinematic forms and genres.

It is a timely investigation, with the 75th anniversary of the start of the conflict approaching (in 2023), and with there being renewed interest in the period, following the controversial repatriation of Chin Peng’s ashes in 2019. In addition, although the Emergency is one of the most significant periods in the region’s history (and the subject of studies both popular and academic), currently there is little offering a cultural history of the period.

An important exception is the relationship between the Emergency and the cinema, with a number of valuable studies having recently been written looking at the films of the Malayan Film Unit (Chan 2015; Hee 2017; Muthalib 2011). These issues were explored further, while also taking in other aspects of film and literature’s relationship with this historical moment.

This project allowed us to re-examine the Emergency, asking a host of new questions including:

- What ideological bias (if any) is intimated in works of both fiction and non-fiction about the Malayan Emergency?
- To what extent do the race and gender of the filmmaker/author influence the representation of the Emergency, whether in fiction or non-fiction?
- How do fictional works about the Emergency supplement historical records of the event (do they help deepen our knowledge, or effect a mythologizing of it?)?
- How do fictional works published in the 20th and 21st centuries differ in terms of tone, concerns and representations of the Malayan Emergency?
What archival desire underpins works of fiction and non-fiction about the Emergency?

There will be a publication outcome in the form of a special issue of a journal or an edited book.

Image Credit: Yoshikazu Inoue

Organising Committee

Andrew Ng Hock Soon
Andrew Ng is Associate Professor in Literary Studies and the Chair of Postgraduate Studies at the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia.

He specialises in Gothic and horror narratives, and is particularly interested in a framework that compares the related genres’ Eastern and Western manifestations. His current research looks at the literary tradition of Asian monstrosities - from the Middle Eastern ghoul and the demon lord, Ravana, in the Ramayana, to the monstrous feminine of Southeast Asia and the bakeneko of Japan, among others - and how their representation and significance have been transformed and updated in recent history.

His most recent monograph is Women and Domestic Space in Contemporary Gothic Narratives: The House as Subject (Palgrave, 2015). He received his PhD from University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia.

Jonathan Driskell
Jonathan Driskell is the coordinator for the Major in Film, Television and Screen Studies. He has previously served as the Undergraduate Course Coordinator and as the Deputy Head of School (Education) in the School of Arts and Social Sciences, Monash University Malaysia.

He wrote his PhD thesis at King’s College London on “Female Cinematic Stardom in 1930s French Film”. He has published a book on Marcel Carné, which forms part of the Manchester University Press French Film Directors series, and a book entitled The French Screen Goddess: Film Stardom and the Modern Woman in 1930s France. He has also written about Southeast Asian cinema, particularly the film star P. Ramlee and the Malay cinema of the 1950s and 1960s.

He has spoken at conferences locally and internationally on various aspects of his research and has appeared on BFM: The Business Radio Station to discuss his work on P. Ramlee.

Marek Rutkowski
Marek Rutkowski is Lecturer in Global Studies at Monash University Malaysia. He specialises in international history with a particular focus on the Cold War in Asia.

His research interests range from diplomacy and peacekeeping to development models and nation-building. Separately, he has been involved in a two-volume book project on Western military powers in Asia in collaboration with scholars from US, UK, Australia and Singapore.

He received his PhD in History from the National University of Singapore in 2017. His dissertation analysed the role of international peacekeepers in Indochina in the 1950-60s in the period leading up to the Vietnam War, with the Cold War and decolonisation as a backdrop. Currently Dr. Rutkowski focuses on turning the dissertation into a book manuscript and embarking on a second research project looking at the Soviet Bloc’s encounters with Asia in the Cold War period in the areas of diplomacy, development and knowledge transfer.

Fikri Jermadi
Fikri Jermadi is a filmmaker and academic based in Malaysia and Indonesia, with various affiliations to Monash University Malaysia, Sunway University and Jakarta International College.

His research interests include film studies, gender and sexuality, and media and communications in the contexts of Malaysia, Indonesia and South Korea. He co-authored a book chapter looking at the stardom of Shahrukh Khan in a post-globalised Bollywood era, published in Salaam Bollywood: Representations and Interpretations by Routledge.

As a filmmaker, he has been active for over 15 years, serving in a variety of roles such as director, writer, producer and editor for films ranging from independent productions in South Korea to feature film presentations in Malaysia.

He received his PhD from Universiti Teknologi MARA in 2019, with a thesis discussing gender and sexuality in contemporary Malaysian cinema, and is currently working on an academic book further exploring these discourses.