This Introduction establishes the historical and theoretical framework for this study. It argues that scholarship on Anglophone Malaysian literature has tended towards a limited focus on race and nation-building, thus ignoring other quietist, intangible dimensions that are equally, if not more, profound in their impact on the fashioning of identities in a country fraught with racial-religious tensions. This chapter begins with a brief outline of Malaysia's colonial and postcolonial histories and the way they have shaped contemporary Malaysian identity, and by extension, its Anglophone literature. It then mounts a defense with regard to the importance of a psychoanalytical and poststructuralist reading of texts in order understand the way in which religion and the religious is experienced on intimate levels, and what these experiences means for the different individuals whose identity is also undercut by race, class and gender.
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