The purpose of this paper therefore is to go back to and reconsider some of Frantz Fanon’s key ideas in order to explore how different parts of the formerly colonized world are dealing with and understand their encounter with European imperialism through looking at the example of how Fanon has been applied in Malaysia, in the Malaysian film by director Yasmin Ahmad, Sepet [Chinese Eyes] (2004). Malaysia offers a very interesting choice to explore the impact of Fanon’s work precisely because of its different geographical and colonial history: colonized by the British and set in Southeast Asia, Malaysia–or “Malaya” under British colonial rule–provides an interesting background from which one can see how the tensions of colonialism play out through an interaction of the Francophone world with the Anglophone world. Sepet is a love story about an unlikely couple–a middle-class Malay girl and a poor Chinese boy (who shuns his Chinese name Lee Siao Long for Jason, and who, (Fanon may have smiled), has dyed his hair blond). We will show through a reading of this film and the impact of Fanon on the film how Malaysia represents a very similar yet different world from the Francophone world of which Fanon spoke. Malaysia is also an interesting case study particularly because unlike most “typical” postcolonial countries, the country has managed to successfully industrialize since independence–allowing one also to question the problematic notion of postcolonial economic dependency. Yet, it will also be shown that Fanon’s words will still manage to reveal the atypical and difficult condition of postcolonial alienation in contemporary Malaysia through Sepet.
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