This article provides an analysis of two colonial reports, the Barnes and the Fenn-Wu Reports on education in the British colony of Malaya. The popular stance on the Barnes and the Fenn-Wu Reports is that one is an effect or reply to the other. We argue on the contrary that the two reports construct a common argument on nation-building which becomes apparent through a dialogic reading of the reports. We show how the two reports, written in the 1950s, reflect the anxiety of the colonial rulers in constructing a nation and the ethnic communities (the Malays and the Chinese) in pre-independent Malaya. These communities were constructed not without their inherent antagonism as well as their reciprocal vulnerabilities in a future political state. This act of articulation is predominantly a political act constructed through a complex web of interdiscursivity and intertextuality. The spectres of the Barnes and the Fenn-Wu Reports continue to surface in education and nation-building discourse in modern-day Malaysia.
- colonial discourse