13 June: GLASS Lecture and Film Screening - Dr. Farish Noor
Dr. Farish Noor (Senior Reseacher, Nanyang Technical University) will deliver the summer GLASS lecture titled, 'Pirate' is what I'm Not: The role of the 'Southeast Asian Pirate' in the Discourse of Legitimation for European Colonial Adventurism. Prior to the lecture, we will screen the film, Lord Jim, based on the Joseph Conrad novel of the same title.
Film Screening of Lord Jim
Lunch included, register here by June 5th
Academy Building, Small Auditorium
Reception to Follow at Prentenkabinet
'Pirate' is what I'm Not: The role of the 'Southeast Asian Pirate' in the Discourse of Legitimation for European Colonial Adventurism
(Adjusted Title) Pirate is what I'm not: The use of the term 'Pirate' from the age of colonialism to the current discourse on maritime security in Southeast Asia
Today the term 'pirate' has obvious negative connotations and is widely used in the security discourses of Southeast Asia. Yet it can be shown that this term has evolved over the past two centuries, where it was initially introduced as a means to draw an internal boundary between the order of colonial knowledge and power, and the real lives of the colonised natives. This presentation is part of a collaborative work between Dr Farish A Noor and Yan I-Lann, a Malaysian artist, which looks at the plural meanings of 'pirate' and 'piracy' today. It will argue that the use of the term 'pirate' was political in nature from the beginning, and was part of a wider effort of epistemically classify and arrest the meaning of the colonised native subject in a fluid region where movement and diasporas were a reality. By labeling the native Other as pirate, the colonisers were also drawing a distinction between themselves, and identifying themselves in terms of what they were and what they did not wish to be. The semantic and epistemic arrest of the term 'pirate' was thus a symptom of a broader arrest of the Southeast Asian archipelago as a whole.
Prior to the lecture, Dr. Noor will also host a film screening of
Lord Jim is a 1965 adventure film made by Columbia Pictures produced and directed by Richard Brooks. The film stars Peter O'Toole, James Mason, Curt Jürgens, Eli Wallach, Jack Hawkins, Paul Lukas, and Daliah Lavi. It is the second film adaptation of the 1900 novel of the same name by Joseph Conrad. The first was a silent film released in 1925 and directed by Victor Fleming. The film received two BAFTA nominations, for best British art direction and best British cinematography.
Relevance to Lecture
Farish Noor has selected this film as a complement to his GLASS lecture that examines the role of the Southeast Asian 'pirate' in European colonial adventurism. As a British seaman in colonial times, the protagonist sees himself as part of a 'civilizing mission', and the story involves a 'heroic adventure' at the height of the British Empire's hegemony. Conrad's use of a protagonist with a dubious history has been interpreted as an expression of increasing doubts with regard to the Empire's mission. Literary critic, Elleke Boehmer, sees the novel as part of a growing suspicion that 'a primitive and demoralizing other' is present within the governing order.
Jim (his surname is never revealed), a young British seaman, becomes first mate on the Patna, a ship full of pilgrims travelling to Mecca for the hajj. When the ship starts rapidly taking on water and disaster seems imminent, Jim joins his captain and other crew members in abandoning the ship and its passengers. A few days later, they are picked up by a British ship. However, the Patna and its passengers are later also saved, and the reprehensible actions of the crew are exposed. The other participants evade the judicial court of inquiry, leaving Jim to the court alone. The court strips him of his navigation command certificate for his dereliction of duty. Jim is angry with himself, both for his moment of weakness, and for missing an opportunity to be a 'hero'.
At the trial, he meets Charles Marlow, a sea captain, who in spite of his initial misgivings over what he sees as Jim's moral unsoundness, comes to befriend him, for he is "one of us". Marlow later finds Jim work as a ship chandler's clerk. Jim tries to remain incognito, but whenever the opprobrium of the Patna incident catches up with him, he abandons his place and moves further east.
At length, Marlow's friend Stein suggests placing Jim as his factor in Patusan, a remote inland settlement with a mixed Malay and Bugis population, where Jim's past can remain hidden. While living on the island he acquires the title 'Tuan' ('Lord'). Here, Jim wins the respect of the people and becomes their leader by relieving them from the predations of the bandit Sherif Ali and protecting them from the corrupt local Malay chief, Rajah Tunku Allang. Jim wins the love of Jewel, a woman of mixed race, and is "satisfied... nearly". The end comes a few years later, when the town is attacked by the marauder "Gentleman" Brown. Although Brown and his gang are driven off, Dain Waris, the son of the leader of the Bugis community, is slain. Jim returns to Doramin, the Bugis leader, and willingly takes a fatal bullet in the chest from him as retribution for the death of his son.
Marlow is also the narrator of three of Conrad's other works: Heart of Darkness, Youth, and Chance.