Sunday, May 30, 2021

Grandma’s Gangsta Chicken Curry and Gangsta Stories from My Hippie Sixties by Azly Rahman


Grandma’s Gangsta Chicken Curry and Gangsta Stories from My Hippie Sixties

Azly Rahman

In the following recollections, divided into several chapters, Azly Rahman presents a mixed-genre memoir-snippets of growing up in a world rooted in the pastoral-ness and ruralness of things. The world of his kampong or the Malay village. These are stories of separation – of a mind from the body. Of the body from consciousness. Of spiritual consciousness from the reality of things. In these lie the author’s story – of separation from his tribe, so to speak. Of culture, its constructions, and complexities.  The strange and the familiar has become me. Of the anthropology of the self, globalized in all its absurdities. The central theme is ‘growing up gangsta’ in a Malay village that offered the realism and the supernaturalism of things, seen through the lens of a boy in his early teens.

Through the shifting of the narration of the here and then, through poems, rapping verses, and ethnographic notes, he makes the stories accessible to readers of the English-speaking world, primarily in the United States where the author now resides and teaches. It is a story of ‘boy meeting the strange part of his Malay world’ yet rooted in his mother’s love as an inner guide, and sanity.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Are MRSM (Maktab Rendah Sains MARA) schools a successful failure?

Are MRSM schools a successful failure? 

After 50 years of the MARA Junior Science Colleges Project?

by Azly Rahman 

This essay was written in 2010. Still relevant today, on March 9, 2021, an important date for the third MRSM (Kuantan)

As hypermodernising societies such as Malaysia progresses in syncrony with the advancement of capitalism, and as race and religion becomes the foundation for decision-making in education, especially in elitist well-funded schools, Malaysia is faced with another dilemma of education and national development.

Is this country creating sophisticated ethnocentrists that will continue to sustain race-based ideologies?

Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (Mara Junior Science College) schools, well-funded, well-staffed with advanced degree faculties, and well-taken care of by the Malay-centric government may be one example of a phenomena of a successful failure in the system's 50-year evolution.

The school system prides itself in innovative curricular experimentation drawn from best practice of schools, particularly those of the United States; as its original template was based upon.

What educationists will see in the list of innovations are merely aspects of the formal curriculum; upon further analysis lies the hidden and informal curriculum as perceived from curricular theory; hidden is the deeply racial socialisation aspect.

The overall picture lies in the impact of politics and education in the socialisaton of MRSM students. they parrot the teachers, the teachers parrot the politicians, politicians kowtow to money and power - that's an example of successful failure.

We are all economic beings, homo economicus undoubtedly but it is education and only education that is the best means to re-engineer, restructure, re-level, and redesign society.

It is the only means to sustain individual and social progress, as philosophers Dewey and Freire would argue.

Valueless ideologies

While the advanced nations are prioritising multiculturalism, honoring cosmopolitanism, and globalising education, Malaysians, through their endless fights over education are making many steps backwards. MRSM has produced a breed of sophisticated professionals to sustain ethnocentric valueless ideologies out of touch with current cultural realities.

Consider, in a similar vein, how much is spent and attention paid to on yet another high-priced elitist project such as the Pintar Permata at the expense of other schools in dire needs of even basic amenities such as those in Sabah and Sarawak or in many poor states - is that equity and equality for all races? Or is it a showcase based on ignorance of the meaning of equality and education?

With all due respect to the administrators, teachers, parents, and students, I must say about the MRSM school system.

With its insistence on being a Malay-centric, MRSM these days are not preparing children to survive in a multicultural, cosmopolitan, and ever-changing world that requires English as an important skill, and an outlook that is more open to learning about other cultures especially in the context of a rapidly changing Malaysia.

Those specialisations in each MRSM school are merely cliches filled with educational terminologies that are not fully understood but fully acceptable as a platform to appease the needs of the current regime.

Regimentation is necessary it seems to tune the mind of the monolithic mono-cultural students to accept governmental dictates making them in turn, one-dimensional beings.

Are any of those MRSMs suitable for Malaysian children? Or are they merely training and indoctrinating grounds to prop up yet another breed of leaders that will sustain the culture of blind following neo-feudalism of Ketuanan Melayu that itself is a dying specie?

Do parents know what goes on in the culture of the MRSM boarding schools and what goes on in the minds of your children?

In this context, we must look at the difference between education, schooling, indoctrination, mind-control, and liberation in thinking. I would say that the MRSM system is a successful failure.

Retrogressive ideologies

In MRSM, that predominantly Malay-elite secondary institution for the best and brightest young Malays, Malay-centric indoctrination work have been happening since the 1980s. Courses such as Kursus Kesedaran (Self Awareness Courses) are conducted to instill the questionable idea of Ketuanan Melayu, making the children afraid of "Malaysian bogeymen and bogeywomen" and their own shadows.

Open-mindedness is rarely encouraged and students take control over each others' lives transplanting retrogressive ideologies into each other's head, with the help of ultra-nationalist and anti-multiculturalist teachers.

Even if these children survive the ideological ordeal and experience 'tough love' and go on to get their degrees from top American and British universities, they will still be Malays with a shallow understanding of multiculturalism or become more sophisticated Malays with more complex arguments on Ketuanan Melayu.

They will then design policies to affect the needed sustenance of ideology in order to protect the interests of the few. Neo-feudalistic cybernetic Malays are then the new creations of the political-economic ruling class. They run the country and many are now running it down.

As an educator wishing to see Malays progress alongside in peace and prosperity with other races, I call upon us all to put a stop to all forms of indoctrination held especially by the BTN (Biro Tata Negara); an organisation that is of no value to the advancement of the Malays they claim to want to liberate.

It should be taken over by progressive Malaysians and replaced with a systematic effort to promote not only racial understanding through teaching respect and deep reflection on the cultures of the peoples of Malaysia, but also teach conflict resolution and mediation through cross-cultural perspectives. All must question the presence of BTN on campuses. All must reject BTN's programme for indoctrination.

Let us no longer allow any government body of that sort to set foot on our campuses or our schools. As Malaysians we have to demand an end to the further dissemination of racist ideologies.

Open up, not only institutions such as UiTM (Universiti Teknologi Mara) and MRSM but also Umno to more students of the major cultures. We will then have a great celebration of diversity and respect for human dignity in the decades to come.

We need to turn succesful failures such as MRSM into truly successful Malaysian educational ventures; an organic system able to prepare young Malaysian citizens for a diverse, multicultural, and rapidly challenging world - minus the cliches of educational innovation and blind nationalism that will be anti-national in character.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

SLEEPING WITH GREAT BOOKS: A child remembers the early Seventies

SLEEPING WITH GREAT BOOKS: A child remembers the early Seventies  

(excerpt from a forthcoming memoir)

If there were two very close friends in my life and especially during my childhood, they were: 1) An imaginary friend who had multiple personalities who lived on a tree I frequently climb, and 2) Great books I slept with.

I don’t know what fascinated me about the power of words and about imaginary friends I could run around with and have battles with behind locked doors. I will not talk about that imaginary friend for now.

Books, books, books... how great they are. I remember these friends of mine.


Early books


I slept with a world history book Sejarah Dunia, ‘Hikayat Bayan Budiman’ and ‘Hikayat Seribu Satu Malam’. I can still remember the delightfully musky smell of those classics. The history book was light green, the Hikayat Bayan Budiman light yellow, and the Hikayat Seribu Satu Malam was light brown... light reading there was not. Then there were also some bawdy Jawi magazines I found at home, called Mustika I secretly read. Scantily-clad Malay women “berkemban” adorned the cover page. They were not real photos but something that looked like water-color paintings.

I read novels too. I found them in my mother’s closet or ‘gerobok’ as the Johoreans would call it. The novels were in Jawi, the Malay writing that uses Arabic scripts. My mother knew I loved reading and subscribed to Reader’s Digest for me to spend time in between eating, roaming the village, and playing soccer alone in the field across my kampong house. I looked forward to the postman delivering each issue of the book that opened windows to the American culture. I loved the feature sections as well as those that made me chuckle and laugh - ‘Humour in Uniform’ and ‘Laughter the Best Medicine’, and in general, what living in America is about.

We didn't have much in our house – not much “cargo” as the New Guinean Yali, in UCLA evolutionary biologist Jared Diamond’s study Guns Germs, and Steel called possessions -- just the basics of a family on the level of village poverty, but I had enough time and interest to read and be wealthy with myths, tales, legends, and stories. My best friends: words. That became flesh. And inscriptions. And installations of spaces of knowledge and power, as I later wrote about in my doctoral dissertation at Columbia University in the City of New York.


A book about a bloody riot


My fondest memory was reading a banned book: 13 Mei: Sebelum dan Selepas or May 13: Before and After, written by the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman. My mother told me it was “haram” to read it and the book was at home because my father who was a soldier in the Malay Regiment in Singapore was given a copy. He spent many years patrolling the jungles as far as Jesselton, Sabah, fighting the Communists who were keen on taking over Malaya and install a Mao-Leninist style rule. So, my father was in the then British Malaya Malay Regiment, though a mere prebet (private) trying to defend the country from Chin Peng, Rashid Mydin, Abdullah CD, Shamsiah Fakeh, and the merry band of Malayan Commies who knew only violence and terrorism to affect social change.

The banned book on the bloodiest incident in Malayan history were Malays fought and killed the Chinese especially in Kuala Lumpur, was about the prime minister blaming the “young Turk” Dr. Mahathir Mohamad for helping Tun Razak (Najib's father) to secure power because the young and ambitious leaders were feeling that the first prime minister was giving too much freedom for the Chinese to control the economy. Later I came across many stories concluding that Tun Razak planned the riots so that he could use the Emergency Rule to take over the country. A theory.

That’s the banned book I read when I was a kid. I was of course confused as to why there were also talks that Malay folks in my village were preparing themselves with martial arts skills and “magic powers” and with red headbands with the Arabic phrase “LailahailAllah” (There is no god but God) were getting ready to travel to the city of Kuala Lumpur in the village of Kampung Baru to do one thing: to “slaughter the Chinese”!

(Today, there is a revival of the ideology of Communism in Malaysia, amongst the leftist-activists in her public and private universities.)

Yes, May 13, 1969. What a horrifying memory of a child of perhaps 10 years old to have!


Before Google


I always had a pocket-sized encyclopedia in my schoolbag; one that has everything about serious and fun facts such as world’s longest, tallest, highest, lowest this and that, capital of cities, famous quotes of the English Language, and tons of information that I could ‘google’ by flipping the pages every time I want I would read the little encyclopedia I bought at an Indian bookstore in the Main Bazaar (Pasar Besar) of Johor Baru of the late sixties.

I was happy that I knew so many things and I could quiz my friends on and be able to answer end-of-day questions on general knowledge my teachers in school would ask the class, the reward for the correct answer was to leave the class five or ten minutes earlier than everybody else.

I could them start playing outside those extra minutes while waiting for my ride home. I could play my ‘bola chopping’, ‘sepak yem’, ‘gundu’, ‘superhero cards’, ‘chepeh’, or those games boys of that time played.

Later when I was sent off to a boarding school in the coastal town of Kuantan at a tender young age of 12, I was introduced to a good librarian (and a homeroom ‘mother’). It was said to be an experimental American school in Malaysia, modeled after the Bronx School of the Gifted in Science and the kids were openly called the “guinea pigs” by the educationists.

We were selected through nationwide IQ tests and most eligible were kids from very poor families who were padi planters, rubber tappers, shopkeepers, and fishermen. In my case, I was a child of a Malay Regiment army prebet (private) and a seamstress who later became an electronic factory worker, assembling microchips for Siemens, in Singapore, going to work at 5 in the morning and coming home on a bus at 7 at night. She raised the five of us with earnings from the two jobs.


Adult books


Coming from a kampong in Johor Baru and as a child getting chased out of bookstores almost daily for ‘just reading’ and not buying those ‘mini-encyclopedia’ from which I tried to memorize the interesting facts, the Kuantan school was like the Library of Congress! There I read an encyclopedia of Charles Manson cover to cover, a pictorial coffee-table book of ‘The Godfather’, world maps, American movies, the story of rock and roll, and The Beatles. Some of my favorite books I read at fifteen were A. S. Neill’s Summerhill and Dr. Spock’s Radical Child Rearing, and later ‘The Wanderers’.


And I fell in love with the Asterix and The King is a Fink series.


At the age of 12 or 13, too, I got hold of a book Education and Ecstasy by the American social reconstructionist in education, George Leonard. It was in my school's library. I liked it and read it twice and remembered the part where he discussed the importance of the child, with the help of adult members of the tribe, to speak about what he/she dreamt of as important data to help members of society to move on.

I thought the sight of children sitting in their little ‘chawat’ or tribal hot pants talking about their dreams to adults in bigger ‘chawat’ interpreting dreams was cool. I suppose George Leonard was very much influenced by the idea of the sixties of which Anthropology was beginning to a break-away from its colonial mode’ with actually the influence of Margaret Mead as a ‘spokesperson of the sixties’.

Later Mario Puzo’s The Godfather novel became a favorite, leading me to read more and more stuff from the gangster-movie genre; The Don is Dead, Omerta, Bonnie and Clyde, etc. Another favorite was Papillon, which was later made into a movie starring Steve McQueen.

It was always a pleasure to be in the library stocked with readings on American culture. Whether influential or not, I read Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

No, I was not interested in influencing anyone, not interested in girls, too, because then I thought they were strange annoying creatures, nor was I interested in becoming an influential politician. I was simply interested in the title of it! Sounded like how to see ghosts and communicate with them.

Hanging out, hanging around, and ‘chilling’ I was in that reading joint back in the day, listening to the teachers and the librarian gossiping too.


In my high school library


The library sometimes feels like a Barnes and Noble cafe in New York city - there would always be those little boarding school children hanging out, hanging around, and ‘chilling’ with the librarian-cum-homeroom mother and one of my favorite English teachers! May God bless her soul wherever she is. I will write about my other English teachers later. It was also a gossiping joint.

I continue to read Greek and Roman mythology and my World History book (in Malay) every time I go home. The library of Sultanah Aminah in Johor Baru was another place I loved best.

A deeply shining moment in one of my English teacher's effort to make teaching interesting was when she brought a friend of hers, I think from Universiti Malaya to our English Club meeting and performed this short existentialist play concerning a corpse that kept growing and growing out of the closet, maybe Eugene Ionesco’s short play ‘Amedee’. (Or How to Get Rid of It.)

It was such an effective two-woman performance by the duo Miss Rahmah and Miss Maznah that I got so scared towards the end and had a nightmare right there in the dorm.

That was one of the many moments of effective teaching. Later in life I became very interested in French existentialist literature, reading more Ionesco, and obsessed with Samuel Beckett, Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre and finally immersed myself in Existentialism. I went on to read the major classics of English and World Literature.

My English teacher taught me two words with which I can never forget how excited I was when I was in Form One; the words were ‘nocturnal incursion’. I got so obsessed with the words that they became part of me - I started sneaking out at, many nights and got myself free to roam the city of Kuantan at night and see what ‘nocturnal incursions’ means, and what freedom entails or escape from Alcatraz is about.

I read that novel Papillon, about life in a French prison, three times when I was in Form Three. I read ‘The Godfather’ novel five times. Later I found out that Saddam Hussein’s favorite movie was ‘The Godfather’!

She got us to read a novel, Istvan Zolda, about a soldier in Yugoslavia during the time of the war of the Partisans.

When I was in Form One she told me that I had “perfect English”. I was thrilled, excited, flattered. But I found out later that it was not true at all. I still work with brutal editors for all of my writings, while at the same time editing other people’s work.

May all the good work be blessed. Teachers like them are rare these days; they are now politicized.


My mother smarter than Paulo Freire


Such is the joy of reading back in the day - before Facebook, WhatsApp, iPads, and the culture of Mat and Minah Rempit, Jihadists. And terrorists by any name.

And bless my mother's soul for showing me the power of the word. With her schooling to only Primary Three (Darjah Tiga,) she was smarter than Paulo Freire, the Marxist-Leninist Brazilian educator, I presume. Certainly more peaceful than Marx, Engels, and Lenin combined.


She was my pedagogue.  Of hope. And love. 


And books? My dear friends they are. 

Sunday, December 27, 2020



I DON'T SUPPORT THE BLM-VIOLENCE NETWORK. To me "AS EDUCATOR, ALL LIVES MATTER" then. now, and forever. This is my stand. And Violence begets violence. Nothing comes out of it. And I am not a supporter of any Bigot President either. Nor any form of racial supremacy — azly rahman

Below is what I tweeted, after watching the violence in June, 2020: the looting, the burning, the destruction of property and businesses, after the protests. 

(Published in Eurasia Review, Oregon, USA)

The Price Of Not Tweeting Exclusively That ‘BlackLivesMatter’ – OpEd

First, my condolences to the family of George Floyd. And may justice be served on those responsible for his death. This has been a challenging two weeks for me: the end of semester wrap-ups, novel writing continuation, and handling a Gerakbudaya author-interview cancellation issue.

But let me share what transpired the day I tweeted what I believed in, as an educator for more than three decades.

‘Cancel culture story’

I was invited to give a Zoom-talk by Gerakbudaya, my publisher of seven books, on apartheid and education in Malaysia, and in fact, I was the one who suggested the series of author-interviews, then “KABOOM!” a day before Saturday 13th, it was canceled. The reason: the editors were perhaps contacted by an academic from abroad and a human rights activist that I had tweeted and posted messages that are supposedly against BlackLivesMatter and therefore disrespectful to the movement and therefore I had to be “de-platformed” immediately.

Of course, things got out of hand and there began the controversy on how I should be behaving like a “progressive” as to how the BlackLivesMatter fanatics had wanted it to be. In short, their argument goes like this: if you are not promoting BlackLivesMatter you are a racist and a Trump supporter and a white supremacist. That’s how many Malaysians too think.

When you get the chance, you can go to the Gerakbudaya page and see my responses, including a letter of apology from the owner, I posted.

Now it seems some human rights activists in Malaysia, as well as academics, are suggesting that I continue to be “de-platformed” and my books taken off the shelves until I “revise my view” on BlackLivesMatter. I find this concerning. But this is Malaysia.

You may visit my Facebook page [] and have a sense of what matters to me as an educator and why I get turned off by hegemony, social projections, and the meaning of protests when one starts saying that “Until BlackLivesMatter all lives do not yet matter” Or — “PoliceLivesDon’tMatter” or “WhiteLivesDon’tMatter”. These, to me, are violent messages hash-tagged for maximum-viral impact.

“BlackLivesMatter Too BECAUSE AllLivesMatter” was my concluding post.

I also posted that “AllLivesMatter” is perfectly in agreement with what I have always championed for in all my writings: that “AllMalaysianLivesMatter” in a world in which the promotion of Malay Supremacy is ever-present.

So, these and the violence attached to the movement turned me off and I start to protest against the world. I am a teacher essentially and to me “AlLivesMatter” resonates with me better and if I have to chant “BlackLivesMatter” all my life, I might next start hating people of all color, especially the whites. It is a crystal-clear philosophical stand I am taking. Malaysians especially don’t like this stand because Philosophy can be worse than Zoom-Fatigue.

‘Symbols destroyed’

Statues are now being brought down such as in Bristol and continuing in many parts of the world, I’d say that’s a natural progression of human action when freedom to destroy them go rampant. Lenin’s statue, Sadam Hussein’s, Leopold of Belgium’s, Columbus — all these symbols of oppression are targets. The French taught the modern world about destroying symbols, by first beheading Louis Capet and Mary Antoinette and today producing theories of deconstructionism. We moved from the physical to the intellectual.

The nature of Man perhaps to destroy as in the Shiva-Brahma-Vishnu in us (Preserver-Creator-Destroyer). But the Biblical stories too, the chosen peace messengers from Abraham to Muhammad destroyed symbols. So, it is part of the inner drive of the primordial self to destroy, I suppose.

BlackLivesMatter protests, triggered by the George Floyd event, gave the inspiration to destroy: from old paradigms of thinking to statues, to properties in the cities and businesses owned by peace-loving-law-abiding citizens. Anarchism seems to be an addiction of the youth these days. The Liberal Left bent on the ideas of change promoted by Communists – that violence is that way too – has possessed the mind of the young. Destruction is the modus operandi to feed the soul of the protester.

Yes, it’s all about inner and outer symbols: Of what one worships and destroys.

‘A symbol of violence?’

Of course, the Covid-19 lockdown fermented the anger and sped up the destruction. Today, addiction to protests continue. The only difference is the burning and looting has stopped. Except in the latest case in Atlanta.

Of course, the Covid-19 lockdown fermented the anger and sped up the destruction. Today, addiction to protests continue. The only difference is the burning and looting has stopped. Except in the latest case in Atlanta.

The irony of BlackLivesMatter is that it looked like it worked in concert with looting and burning and destruction. As if planned. Man loves to see things burn when the language of reason fails, avenues for peace closed, and the view that the world is an oyster and the land of opportunities and not to create mayhem is lost. Those who love to burn the city down are merely feeding the Fire within. Whether a meaningful symbol such as BlackLivesMatter is attached to it or not.

I want to continue to spread the message that all lives matter: not the Trumpian of White Supremacy slogan but the very basic idea that we are all humans. There is no question of “timing” here that collides with BlackLivesMatter, nor the metaphor of the two houses, one burning that we ought to save.

This is what made people angry with me — that I refused to “revise my view” and I am not “repenting”. My response has always and will always be this: I am an educator and all lives matter to me. As soon as I step into my classroom, all those in it, to me, are human beings with unique cultures and talents and levels of motivation, ready to learn. My job is to see them only as my students of all shapes, sizes, colors, gender, race, and religious affiliations for me to not only teach – but to learn from.

I have been living with this credo and ethos as an educator since I started teaching 33 years ago. I can only promote the words “AllLivesMatter” however my critics wish to interpret it. I offer no apologies even though many have said that the timing is not right. How ridiculous!? But I respect their views and will defend their rights, although mine will be demolished, in many ways as I have been reading. I stand by what the French philosopher Voltaire would say about respecting and defending other people’s views.

I have been living with this credo and ethos as an educator since I started teaching 33 years ago. I can only promote the words “AllLivesMatter” however my critics wish to interpret it. I offer no apologies even though many have said that the timing is not right. How ridiculous!? But I respect their views and will defend their rights, although mine will be demolished, in many ways as I have been reading. I stand by what the French philosopher Voltaire would say about respecting and defending other people’s views.

Besides, I am no stranger to controversies and how people have been responding to what I stand for. I believe controversies are good especially when they are handled, as the Russian thinker Mikhail Bakhtin would call “dialogically” rather than be an avenue for name-calling, even (strangely) by aging academics who ought to have acquired the status of a Merlin the Magician or a Tolstoy or a Dame Agatha Christie or even a Harriet Tubman: wise old men and women.

‘Does race matter?’

Besides the above on the nature of protestation and disagreements, first and foremost, I do not believe race is significant nor emphasizing it brings us any good. And what will violence achieve? What’s the point of chanting and screaming justice in the day and looting, burning, and threatening the lives of others at night—burning down the businesses of people whose lives depend on those.

I have been living with this credo and ethos as an educator since I started teaching 33 years ago. I can only promote the words “AllLivesMatter” however my critics wish to interpret it. I offer no apologies even though many have said that the timing is not right. How ridiculous!? But I respect their views and will defend their rights, although mine will be demolished, in many ways as I have been reading. I stand by what the French philosopher Voltaire would say about respecting and defending other people’s views.

Most of the businesses burned to the ground and looted empty are those family-owned by immigrants trying to survive in a land that is giving them hope to flourish, after escaping persecution. And each one of these people – the Italians, Irish, Armenians, Mexicans, Chinese, Jamaican, West Indian, Japanese, Jews, Turkish, Syrians, Somalians, Palestinians, Haitians, etc. — have had a long history of discrimination, persecution, and slavery too. We have not yet talked about the Native Americans! – in different context than those who lost their livelihood when businesses and neighborhoods get looted and burned to the ground!

So—to you my esteemed readers: what do you think? Which one is better: AllLivesmatter? Or BlackLivesMatter?

Or should race matter at all?

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman

Dr. Azly Rahman is an educator, academic, international columnist, and author of eight books, namely Multiethnic Malaysia: Past, Present, Future (2009), Thesis on Cyberjaya: Hegemony and Utopianism in a Southeast Asian State (2012), The Allah Controversy and Other Essays on Malaysian Hypermodernity (2013), Dark Spring: Essays on the Ideological Roots of Malaysia's General Elections-13 (2013), a first Malay publication Kalimah Allah Milik Siapa?: Renungan dan Nukilan Tentang Malaysia di Era Pancaroba (2014), Controlled Chaos: Essays on Mahathirism, Multimedia Super Corridor and Malaysia's 'New Politics' (2014), One Malaysia under God, Bipolar (2015), and High Hopes Shattered Dreams: The Second Mahathirist Revolution (2020). Five of the books are available here. He grew up in Johor Bahru, Malaysia and holds a doctorate in International Education Development from Columbia University in the City of New York, and Master's degrees in six areas: education, international affairs, peace studies communication, fiction and non-fiction writing. He is a member of the Columbia University chapter of the Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education. He currently teaches courses in Global Politics, Cross-Cultural Studies, and Sustainability, in the United States. Twitter @azlyrahman. More writings here.

Thursday, July 09, 2020

#AllCulturesMatter: Notes for a course in Cultural Management, Ensenada, Mexico

This is the foundation of Cultural Management and the road to cultural competency we ought to teach the young, and what I have been doing for decades as well. 

Educators need to master the art and science of teaching diversity and to integrate and infuse the themes of multiculturalism into the subject matter.

The young, of "Generation-C" or Gen-Covid need to be given guidance and offered humane and peaceful choices of what they are to do in life, in a world of such rapid and oftentimes violent changes that many of those restless will easily fall prey to those out to indoctrinate and turn the young into appendages and utilities of the powerful and egotistical interested in advanced destructive agenda.

Herein lie my continuing interest in guiding the young in managing culture, coming to terms with the impact of Covid-19, and feeling the changes of cultural hybrid in the self. Ultimately I see culture as organic, dynamic, constantly evolving, construct-laden, with the foundation of spirituality and scientific reasoning keeping the self still sane.

I do not merely teach about the concepts of culture bur how concepts inform the phenomenology of changes within the self, as experiences, signs, symbols, semiotics, sense-awareness of things around impact the psycho-physics aspects of the human mind, leading to personal cultural evolution -- these as culture gets reproduced and take the trajectory of being abling and disabling, being constructive and destructive and in-between.

What is "culture" if not a system of variegated meaning: of the self undergoing constant reconstruction, of the tools we use to work and play, the artifacts we create to solve problems or to amuse or even abuse ourselves, the rituals we participate in whether meaningful or not, the gods we worship, the house we inhabit -- all these as the still-evolving definition of "culture" as conceived and attempted to be defined by those studying it-- from Boas to Malinowski, to Levi-Strauss, to Mead, to Merle-Ponty, to Geertz, to Rosaldo and many others.

… --ar

Grandma’s Gangsta Chicken Curry and Gangsta Stories from My Hippie Sixties by Azly Rahman