Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. History Dept.


Arnout van der Meer

Second Advisor

Inga Diederich


Using historian Benedict Anderson's framework from his seminal text Imagined Communities of examining nation-building and identity construction through colonial artifacts, this thesis turns to maps, censuses, and museums to better understand the colonial and post-colonial imagining of the country that is now known as Malaysia. Reconciling with regional histories that predate the nation-state and defy the contemporary boundaries of territoriality, this thesis largely seeks to elucidate the contestation between colonially-imposed ideas of spatiality, categorization, and the reproduction of history with the modern Malaysian nation-state and the conflation of ethnicity with nationalism from which much of this contestation is derived from.


Malaysia, nationalism, nationality, ethnicity, Melayu, imagination