Category Archives: academic papers

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NATIONAL DAY AND NATIONAL ANTHEM CELEBRATION IN MULTICULTURAL SINGAPORE: IT’S SIGNIFICANCE IN CONTEXT OF THE TEXT OF SINGAPORE GAGA

Singapore is a harmonious multicultural nation, with advanced First World status. The main racial groups accept their cultural and religious diversities in peaceful co-existence. Social cohesion is achieved through shared values and negotiations. National identity is enforced by accepting English as a neutral administrative and commercial language; Malay as National, and together with Chinese and Tamil as four official languages. The medium of instruction is in Standard English, but pupils are allowed to learn their own mother tongue. It is secular and based on meritocracy, in word and deed, without discrimination of race and religion. In 1965, in the struggle for economic survival, the nation opens the door, with minimal restrictions, to capital flow and talent from all over the world. It advocates a technocratic nationalism above all, with elements of cosmopolitanism. However, due to demographic ratio, multiculturalism in Singapore is a social and geopolitical reality. It is not described a melting pot society, but as a salad bowl, in the sense of mixing together harmoniously without integration. The differences are negotiated in what to add or take away from the common bowl, and each fully aware of the other’s sensitivities. With that introduction we shall examine how the celebration of National Day and the singing of the anthem in Singapore Gaga fit into the image/scene of multiculturalism as stated.
Singapore Gaga is a documentary film (lasting fifty five minutes) of random vignettes, with the themes of sights and sounds/music, around the city state. In its meandering journey of shifting from one scene or performer to another, the viewer has to make the connections to reconstruct in the text in order to obtain an overall understanding and meaning of the film. In GaGa, we are shown the performances of avant-garde pianist, Margaret Tan, and shows of popular street vendor and other marginal art performers, Chinese dialects and Singlish proponents, Madrasah celebratory sports day with colourful tudong lad girls, and the noises of Serangoon in Little India of metropolitan Singapore. The marginal groups and the elderly feel they are neglected or abandoned, and are yearning to belong to this mixed pot, in the fast modernity of the nation. All these selected vignettes impact on the viewers the concept of what constitutes multicultural nationalism in Singapore. The fireworks at the start of the show, and Singapore Airline return flight from overseas to “home”, a global city, where citizens found their common identity.
Home to many Singaporeans meant born and bred locally, and 85% own and lived in HDB, but at least 20% were “foreigners”, and willingly stayed in relocated or recommended residences conducive for multicultural association. However, it is the grand spectacle of National Day parade and the singing of National Anthem by all races and ages at the stadium that take the citizens to an imagined multicultural community which declared as an independent nation. The nation as a historical and cultural construct has to be concretized for identification and shared belonging. The long queue for tickets (and miscellanies) for the spectacular show is a mark of law-fearing “patriotiism”, besides providing entertainment for the festive occasions. It is euphoric for all to observe, above the open sky of the stadium, military helicopters carrying the national flag, with the symbolism of red, white, crescent and stars. The sight of the military is to show the seriousness of the nation in protecting its multicultural society. The national anthem, “Onward Singapore”, blasts and calls for “fellow Singaporeans” to unite as one, despite theirdifferences. Large crowd of participants wear the same national colour of red and white, and the atmosphere of the festive is exuberant. A triumphant Khoo Swee Chow climbs an inflatable mountain to reach the summit of Mount Everest. Thunderous applause vibrates across the stadium, unaware of the artificiality and farce of the propaganda show .Despite being a small nation, the many “Tops” and superlatives are national symbolism of achievement and excellences. The visual images and soundscape of the carnival and the recital of National Pledge embody a collective sense of nationhood and pride to be Singaporean. Tan Pin Pin’s in Singapore Gaga listens to the sound of National Day parade and anthem in the attempt of fostering solidarity among Singapore’s mixed pot society. High cost is spent on orchestrating such grandiose state ritual to show national identity and solidarity. The significance of depicting this iconic scene is interpreted by critics to show the financial autocratic bureaucrats that it will appear ludicrous for the state to “manage” or stage national identity, without consideration that marginal views are of different perception and interpretation. Nationalism as depicted in the film is ambivalent. The sense of belonging and shared values must be seen in the context of spontaneity. High and low culture and binary opposites co-exist in society. Privileging one over the other is suppression and hegemony. Dialogue and consensus among different racial groups or interest groups will be conducive for multicultural understanding. The omniscience is not without social cost in a changing world with changing values. Past mistakes are made, such as blind imitation of western practices or ideas, for instance, the recorder is preferred over harmonica, even though it incurred lower cost for the state, and relatively easier for beginners of music to learn.
Willingness to listen to differences and the ability to negotiate diversities well will be wholesome for social cohesion. The “big” picture in Tan’s GaGa is exploring the social and political reality of nationalism in multicultural Singapore. The government and people will gain if they were willing to attune their ears and hearts to the sound/voice around them. Failure to attune to the “music” will be what Freddie Fender, in the voice of Melvyn Cedello, results in “Wasted Days and Nights”, with citizens left behind. In fact Tan has Cedello plays his music at the beginning and end of the film, in the walkway of MRT station. Victor Khoo and his Charlie, despite sixty years of public service as a ventriloquist (and spoke from his gut) is not honored. Gn Kok Lin, the clog and harmonica juggler, and Liang Yu Tao’s “one dollar” Singlish rendition are petty vendors but still citizens of the state, with same human rights. The significance of multiculturalism, shared diversities or re-negotiated differences, need to be seen in the context of a wider aural ecology that characterized Singapore as a global city, forever evolving to meet future demands.
(1060 words)

REFERENCES:
1. Laurence Wai-Teng Leong.(2001) Consuming The Nation: National Day Parades In Singapore.National University of Singapore New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies 3, 2: pg 5-16.
http://www.nzasia.org.nz/downloads/NZJAS-Dec01/Leong.pdfCited 08-03-2014

2. Yawning Bread. (2006) The sounds we make, the questions they raise. Singapore.
http://www.yawningbread.org/arch_2006/yax-551.htmCited 08-03-2014

3. Berylpieces (2012) Singapore: Model of a Pluralistic, Multicultural Society?
http://beryl-pieces-asia.blogspot.com/2012/03/singapore-model-of-pluralistic.html Cited 08-03-2014

4. Tan Yan Shen el al. (2013) T2d Melting Pot vs Multiculturalism.Wiki Home
http://2012-4p2.wiki.hci.edu.sg/T2d+Melting+Pot+vs+Multiculturalism Cited 08-03-2014

5. Tan Pin Pin. (2006) Singapore GaGa Official Website. Objectisf Film. http://criticine.com/feature_article.php?id=30Cited 08-03-2014
6. Yasuko Hassall Kobayashi. (2012) Documentary filmmaking, civil activism and the new media in Singapore The case of Martyn See Film in Contemporary Southeast Asia. Cultural Interpretation And Social Intervention. David Lim (Eds).USA.Rouledge.
7.See Kam Tan,Jeremy Fernando.(2007)Singapore, in Melte Hjort and duncan J.Petrie (eds).The Cinema of Small Nations. Edinburge University Press.127-143

NB My apology for not providing citation, though the references are cited

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BRITISH MUSEUM’S EXPLORE PAGE
http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore.aspx?ref=header

It is an exercise of scopophilia to take an online explorer’s trip on the thousands of exhibits in British Museum. The images, educational, cultural or political propaganda, churn out wide ranging representations, meaning and cultural texts and context. The viewer searches the galleries, unaware of Barthes’ punctum (Sturken,18), and finds the theme of “Living and Dying” (Pompeii and Herculaneum) in Room 24 worthy of visit. The Freudian unconsciousness of fear compels the viewer to stay, interpellates and interacts with the exhibits.
The theme of “life and death” offers a perennial universal appeal. The display covers a wide range of cultural objects, ranging from gold and artistic artifacts, pharmacopoeia to sculptures, from several countries (New Zealand, Ghana, Solomon Island, North and South America), representing different cultural and religious approaches to combating illness, avoiding danger and threat, to placate relationship problems and to find harmony and meaning with the spiritual world. These different representations and genealogies appear to contest with one another, in the context of Bourdieu’s habitus (Sturken, 60). They are all inter-connected by the common theme of “life and death”. The ancient artifacts, such as the eagle-shaped coffin from Ghana, the primitive looking ancestral figurine from Soloman Island and the wooden beaker from Peru, share “high” aesthetic value, in the context of pleasure, beauty and creativity. (Sturken, 56). The different representation of images and artifacts, across time and culture, was enactment of different spaces and time, a heterotopia. Foucault considered the museum as a cemetery, where viewers, the relatives and families of the dead met and shared the common genealogy . A single space in Room 24 in British Museum has brought disparate objects together. Echoing Marshall McLuhan, the media conveyed the message that life and death were shared by all humanity. This would only be possible if there was the attunement of empathy, the feeling of shared global consciousness in timeless space.
Viewers can be sensitive while looking at the objects, and the representations evoke personal feelings to them, resulting in shift in egocentric patterns of thinking and living. In a globalized world viewers need to look at objects and images with different perspectives and accommodate the others’ interpretation, since cultural emplacement may contest one another. The knowledge of curators may be encyclopedic, but hegemonic ideologies may be hidden without awareness. The transience and limitation of living is shared by all humanity, across time and space, with the click of the keyboard. Propelled by the universality of disease and illness, life and death, happiness or sadness, viewers do share these common unifying themes, despite the diversities. By fostering global consciousness, the fragmentation and alienation experienced at the personal level is re-constructed. The desire to communicate such feelings and thought to one another results in self- understanding. Fostering global consciousness requires insight and transcendence that our lives are inter dependent and inter connected.
(489 words)

REFERENCE:

1. Lo, Patricket al.(2014) Links between Libraries and Museums: a Case Study of Library- Museum. Hong Kong. JLIS.it. Vol. 5, n. 1 .
2. British Museum Explore/Galleries. Living And Dying (Room 24). E:\British Museum – Room 24 Living and Dying.htm cited 08-03-2014
3. Naisbitt,John, Globalization: Global Consciousness: Think locally, act globally. http://www.mindtools.net/GlobCourse/globalcon.shtml cited 08-03-2014
4.Sturken,M and Cartwright,L. (2009) Practices of Looking: An Introduction To Visual Culture. Oxford /NY, Oxford University Press.

HOW BRITISH MUSEUM’S WEB PAGE PRESENTS TO ON-LINE GLOBAL VIEWERS, WITH ILLUSION OF INCLUSIVITY

http://www.britishmuseum.org

The British Museum uses digital social media in its website to attract and interact with global viewers and users. The first gaze by the viewer is its name on the usual top left corner, for viewers and users want to know they have clicked on the right site. It uses different font sizes, with shades and contrasts, plus bars, columns, colours, and automating slides to guide the eyes in good precedence. The web design, with databases and search engines, can be navigated smoothly. The typography gives the impression that it is an advanced web designer technology, giving different visual weights to the eyes. Their services include high definition platform (Facebook and twitter) to workshops, camps, on-line games, lectures and even field research in very comprehensive ways. It thus gives their global viewers the desire to engage them in order to create knowledge, social and political power. The British Museum is a great museum of the British Empire and has the aura and authority to authenticate its artifacts, images and data, with its world-renowned legacy.
With the projected image as a signifier of knowledge and culture, the British museum attracts viewers to visit its website. It is astounding to note that it signifies a historical tradition of two hundred and sixty years, from the Renaissance to now, and is ever expanding in its scope and collections of objects. The twenty first century sees greater expansion with more gallery refurbishments, equipped with modern e-media technology. As cultured people, with good aesthetic taste, few can afford to be missed and excluded in such common wealth. Even a virtual walk-in into such a cultural palace will enhance the viewers’ own image. It will satisfy the desire to be recognized by our peers and to find our meaning in such relate.
The British Museum is a public institution, administered by a Board of Trustee, with its own elected chairman. It has some ten subcommittees, supervising a thousand paid staff and eight hundred volunteers. It will be a prestige to be among any level of staff, with better ego image in higher hierarchies. Job opportunity and conditions for work are opened freely to all, without prejudices. It shows fairness and justice to all, only if one is included in that exclusivity. However, it is still privileging the elite and famous curators.
Despite its comprehensiveness and inclusivity, there will be selection of data display and collections. Information and objects are enormous and the select committee has to focus on some and ignore others. What the viewers see are really choices of such representations or reproductions. The authority to “lock in” or “lock out” information depends on them and may be a political decision. Even the arrangement of images and what to display in the themes are ideological, in the frame of social and cultural perspective. Moreover it will be illusory for on-line viewers or users, with polysemous interpretation, to find common identity, for power landscape is never smooth or on even play field.
(501 words)

REFERENCES:
1 Sturken,M and Cartwright,L..(2009) Practices Of Looking: An Introduction To Visual Culture. Chapters 1 & 2, Oxford /NY. Oxford University Press.
2.British Museum, General History. http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/the_museums_story/general_history.aspx cited 09-03-2014
3.British Museum: Current Job Opportunities. http://www.britishmuseum.org/about_us/jobs.aspx cited 09-03-2014
4.Collis Ta’eed.(2007)Nine Essential Principles for Good Web Design.. http://design.tutsplus.com/tutorials/9-essential-principles-for-good-web-design–psd-56 cited 30-03-2014

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MAPS ARE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTIONS THAT WORK POLITICALLY

Maps are graphic representation of the real and natural world. Though they are objective, they are simultaneously symbolic abstractions of reality. Maps are visual and silent narrative text. This dichotomy between the real and the symbolic, with display of cultural and physical features of geography, opens up the corresponding system of signifiers and signified, into the world of motivation and meaning. . There is semantic power in the way countries are projected as “centers” of the world and viewers are presented with images of land masses distortion and disorientation, depending on the cartographers’ political manipulation or motives. In colonialism, epistemic violence, rooted in racialism, are often committed in land disputes. Mapping geography and location in spatial connections are linked with Foucault’s trinity of knowledge, power and culture. The relations are thus social constructions that work politically.
With that introduction, we proceed to analyze the lie of “Terra Nullius”. Captain Cook and his team of convicts viewed the place as “uninhabited”, for there was no “settlement population”, powerful and organized enough, for him to negotiate deals on land rights .In the words of Frantz Fanon, the black aborigines had “no ontological resistance”, no identity to relate with white colonizers. Historical data revealed there were almost a million people in the continent then, with about 600 tribes, and each with a different language and indigenous sacred rites. It was the knowledge of maps and their mimetic perception and representation that initiated the colonial process of expanding territories, and subjugation of the colonized. The colonialists invented the white man’s “rules of the game” and expected the colonized to play by their rules, often backed by military or political might. Cartography, a powerful tool, worked liked a panoptic mechanism, in a hidden social construction that functions politically.
Incidentally, the British did not declare the Falkland Islands as “Terra Nullius”, for the French were there before their arrival, and therefore, the people there could be seen. Maps influence the way we understand the world and in international relations, and they construct meaning and are infused with political choices. We live in a spherical world, where top and bottom, east and west, ocean or land, depends on how it is presented and perceived. If they fail to support your views, discard the “objective and natural depictions”, chose whatever social or political construct to dominate. There are no longer innocent or objective, and can be manipulated. The voyage depends on the viewers’ gaze, his map reading skill and knowledge, and the way the eyes are drawn to the map and globe.
Political maps, liked the McMahan Line between Sino-Indian border, served colonial purpose of divide and rule, or subject contenting states in perpetual conflict. It is no longer wise for States to believe in the objectivity of maps and to hold on to their borders rigidly, for we know nations and civilizations change in the time and space. It may be best to negotiate and compromise and avoid the risk of mutually self -destruct or end in “clash of civilization”. Piers Fotiadis warned that covert power was often hidden in overt objectivity without our awareness. We must, therefore, understand the dominant narrative; deconstruct it to detect the falsity or truth of the maps. The media on both nations and international often contribute to the confusion, and they are part of this social construct, which have their own respective motives politically.
(563 Words)

REFERENCES:

1.Washabaugh.(2010)Sureveys,Maps&Power
https://pantherfile.uwm.edu/wash/www/150map.htm.Cited 11-03-2014

2.Cheryl McEwan. ‘Dismantling the Master’s House’?: Towards a postcolonial geography , School of Geography, University of Birmingham. http://www.mtmlinguasoft.com/the-world-turned-upside-down/ Cited 03-03-2014

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MAP PROJECTION

Cartographic projections have their own inherent strength and weaknesses, for it is not easy to transfer a spherical geographical globe, with uneven topography, into two dimensional piece of paper for charting or viewing. Mapping is thus not perfect, as projection will cause distortion in size of land mass, shape, location and distances. The data on the globe had to be transferred into developable geometric forms (cylindrical, conical and planar) for mapping. Projection is, therefore, highly subjective, referential and compromising, and depends on individual perceptive choices and motivations.
The Mercator was the first cylindrical, conformal map, and to preserve shape, scales had to vary when they intersected at meridians and parallel across the map. It thus gave the impression that the Polar Regions, American and Europe were much larger in relative comparisons to countries near the equator. The Mercator was useful as aeronautical and nautical charts, using the straight Rhumb line or Loxodromic for navigating. Being cylindrical and showed more of the globe than conical, the Mercator served as good world map, for school students on lessons on continents, oceans and nations. For digital and street mapping, Google used Mercator. The disadvantage was the limitation in viewing the entire globe, and the distortion could be visually misperceived as racist or political hegemony, or white centric, as it made the powerful “northern” nations larger than real, compared with the southern nations. From the sixteen century, western colonialists sailed and conquered the Far East using the straights lines (drawn from Mercator) with a constant compass bearing. However, that reason alone would be simplistic.
As a comparison, the Hobo-Dyer map projection is also cylindrical, but with equal area presentation. In contrast to Mercator, it showed the world’s land masses in actual comparison, and, in its double print, turned it upside down to challenge the habitual north upwards and south downwards perception to give a different perspective and reverse any misleading representation. For instance, it might show the south at the top, and the Pacific Ocean at its center and the Atlantic at the margins, in order to show another perspective of viewing the world. In other words, the different presentation showed the importance of the ocean, and de-emphasizes the land areas and population masses of the northern hemisphere. This change of perspective and perception was considered a “paradigm shift”, as it was a radical change of our way of conceiving the world and our knowledge of political geography, religion, navigation, population, human history and economics.
Since the Hobo-Dyer was also cylindrical, it might also distort at the poles, and it compensated by presenting eight other map projections To maintain equal area presentation in the shape, mathematical “corrections” could be made by shifting its axes of low angle distortion at standard parallel north-south or east-west distortion at 37.5 degree north and south at the equator, overcoming its shortcomings.
The Hobo-Dyer map projection was an attempt to rectify the privileging of Europe and countries in the northern hemisphere, as colonies in the east were gaining independence or fighting for liberation according to western ideologies, and the west had to appear to be politically “right”, as modern cartography was mapped by western powers. It had to be reminded that Admiral Cheng Ho had navigated the seas long before Christopher Columbus “found” his lands, without western maps.
In an irony of historical twist, terrorists or freedom fighters could use cartographic information available at web sites to damage colonial or imperial nuclear plants, oil fields or other military or security targets.
Mimesis in western cartographic practices had historically served colonial subjugation of non-western people, according to Homi Bhabba and Edward Said. Hobo-Dyer map projection could be considered as attempt to de or re territorialize other nation states, such as the re drawing of national boundaries, in Tibet/India/China, and other African states. Such creative cartographic revisionism, not infrequently, cause “territorial” or “boundary” disputes in post-colonial era. The “cartographic connections” provided “scientific” discourses for contestatory states to engage in unnecessary disputes or warfare instead of economic development and welfare. Nevertheless, away from political motivation, each map projection has its own vantage point and projects different world views. In other words, multiple map projections serve as metaphor for presenting multiple world views to promote global understanding. The Mercator and Hobo-Dyer have their respective benefits and drawbacks.
(714 words)

REFERENCES:
1. Ana Lois-Borzi.What American? E:\What American.Quodlibetica mecartor & hobo.htm Cited 03-03-2014
2.NickStockton. (2013) Get to Know a Projection: MercatorMapLab. E:\Get to Know a Projection Mercator – Wired Science.htmCited 03-03-2014
3. Katherine Schulz Richard. John Paul Gaude.About.com.Education. http://geography.about.com/od/understandmaps/a/John-Paul-Goode.htmCited 03-03-2014
4. Denis Cosgrove. (2008) Cultural cartography : maps and mapping in cultural geography. ULCA,USA.
http://www.cairn.info/revue-annales-de-geographie-2008-2-page-159.htm.Cited 03-03-2014

5. Domitius Corbulo. (2012) Where is the historical West? Part 1 of 5. Occidental Observer.
http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2012/12/where-is-the-historical-west-part-1-of-5/Cited 03-03-2014

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CARTOGRAPHIC VIOLENCE
Basically, there are three different ways of viewing the maps, the viewer, the image or how maps are compiled and texted, and the referent or meaning (historical, textual and social). The discussion will show how maps can contribute to cultural or intellectual violence in three separate instances.

The LIE of Terra Nullius
Terra Nullius implies no ownership of land. In 1770 Captain Cook , with the help of his Mercator map, sailed to Botany Bay, Sydney, and “discovered” the Australian continent, which the natives had been living there for centuries. According to prevailing International law, Britain viewed the place as “uninhabited” and settled there as if the land was vacant, and acted as if the aborigines were not “people”, and with the power of knowledge, legalized the settlement. It was an act of intellectual violence. After dispossessed of their land, their population decreased tremendously in war and diseases. They were then removed from their settlement and assimilated in “homes” and “protectorates”, or, in short, remapping their boundaries, and changing their social structure, contributing to cultural violence.

Montgomerie’s mapping of Tibet in 1870
In 1855, British colonial government appointed Montgomerie, who had no surveying or cartographic skills, to head a team of Indian surveyors, impersonated as Tibetan monks, to map the entire Sino-Indian border. In 1914, the purpose of the Simla Convention was for the British to annex territory in order to build a buffer state between Tibet and China. The McMahan Line was drawn indiscriminately using the watershed principles of the highest peaks, which included cultural city of Tawang. When the British ended their colonial rule in 1947, the Indians took this imaginary line as actual border and hence causing perennial intellectual and political violence between the two big neighbours.

Falkland Islands Sovereignty Dispute
British claim to sovereignty over the Falklands was disputable; despite located more than eight thousand miles away. Argentina disputed this claim and fought a lost war with UK in 1982. Falklands Island had been under various colonial rules, including France, Spain and America, and its economy was self-sufficient. The inhabitants today were no longer the same indigenous people, and thus the debate on appropriateness of self-determination. Spain had surrendered the Falklands to Argentina in 1810, and the island faced its continental shelf. However, when UK was strong militarily, and with American and European support, the violence was justified “intellectually”, for might could be constructed as right.

(399 words)

REFERENCES:
1. Prof Eklund, (2001) Terra Nullius and Australian Colonialism, http://treatyrepublic.net/content/terra-nullius-0 cited 19th-02-2014
2 Evan Towt, (2010) Border Conflict and Tibet: The Asian Giants and Their History of Power Struggle, SIT Study Aboard, http://digitalcollections.sit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1883&context=isp_collection cited 19-02-2014
3. Hickman,Kenny.The Falklands War: An Overview.About.com.Military History
http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/battleswars1900s/p/falklands.htm cited 19-02-2014
4. Evan Towt. Border Conflict and Tibet: The Asian Giants and Their History of Power Struggle.SIT Study Abroad.2010. http://digitalcollections.sit.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1883&context=isp_collectionCited 03-03-2014
5.Gregory Clark.In Fear Of China.Chapter5: Sino-Indian Dispute. http://gregoryclark.net/China/Cited 03-03-2014
6. E Leanor Standford.Falklands Islands.Countries and Their Culture.Cited 03-03-2014

“THE STORY OF THE INKY BOYS ” USING WESTERN LITERARY PERSPECTIVE

Postcolonial Criticism is the analysis of literary texts after colonialism in the late 19th and 20th century by western colonial powers. It explores discourses in the political, social, cultural, aesthetic effects of decolonization in a global context and inter-connections.

The Story of the Inky Boys was written by Heinrich Hoffman during the 19th Century as a moral story book for his children. It was seen in the context of racism or prejudices based on differences of skin colour perception. The black moor was jeered by a group of white boys on his walking tour. Such intolerance to colour differences or racism could often happen to colonizers and the colonized.

Prof Elizabeth Wesseling cautioned readers that the story be read as “a parody of Romantic Idealization of the child” in the said historical context. It was uncertain whether she meant as mimicry of similarities or differences, for caricatures could be misrepresentation, whether as humour or sarcasm. As punishment, the three white rowdy boys were dipped into the huge magic ink pot, and turned into “black, as black can be”. The language used, verses with end rhyme, might be pleasing to hear, but could be dehumanizing. The boys were transformed into silhouette, and followed the black as shadows. It was their ghosts that followed for their identity had to be shed for them to follow the black moor. The emphasis on differences was basically the same, and we saw the paradoxes of the otherness. The moor was not only black with curly hair and bare footed; he carried a green umbrella on a sunny day and wore orange-coloured pants, and made him a prominent target for teasing. It was not only the skin colour that distinguished them, but the costumes too. In other words, the colourful picture book enhanced the perception of differences. There was no merging into similarities in universal humanism.
Agrippa was a Christian saint in disguise, and he had the soft power of religion to “right” things, or possessed the ability to placate disobedient boys. He performed a “religious” ritual to the boys who dared to challenge his hegemony, and the strange attire had insignia of hierarchy, status and seduction. He was the symbol of power. It was an attempt to instil notions of black purity, an ideological displacement of white angst. That magic trick was no different from voodoo, except it was socially and culturally more acceptable to both the colonizers and colonized. Cultural supremacy was as obvious as race distinction, and they were all different aspects of discrimination. The idealism and the idealized images might be unconscious play of colonizers and colonized. The ambivalence was due to underlying anxiety caused the split in attempts to fix things not politically right. It was not a racist story, as stated by Professor Wesseling, but the racism “lurked” in the shadows of the idealism of the period. Yet we have to acknowledge the effort made in moral teaching, whether appropriate then or now. Postcolonial Criticism, together with other disciplines, teaches us to see the connections in our experience and to explore beyond racism in the story.

To Freudians, the big goose- feathered pen was a clear phallic symbol and the large ink pot a vagina, or castrated penis. The boys were in a way metaphorically castrated for not obeying. However, the ink pot could also be interpreted as a large cultural pot, where blacks and whites intermingled to find common identity. The Adlerian school broke away from Freud, and looked at personality development in a different light. The negativity of the child in the initial stage of development was an incentive for improvement. Similarly, the superiority complex also took some negative turns, and the improvement could be achieved through personal striving or community help. Another school that broke with Freudian was Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy, who explored the meaning of living and life in all our striving. In this context, we learned to explore the meaning of intolerance of differences and the conflict or violence generated in our daily living, and we had a duty or responsibility to impart proper teaching to our next generation. Good parenting skill can be learned and is essential.
(693 words)

References:
1.Hook,Derek. A Critical Psychology of the Postcolonial: The Mind of Apartheid Journal for Social Action in Counseling and Psychology. Volume 4, Number 2, Fall 2012 London: Routledge, 2012. http://www.psysr.org/jsacp/Gholizadeh-v4n2-12_117-119.pdf cited 15-11-2013
2.Wesseling, Elizabeth. Blacker than Black: Contextualising the Issue of White Supremacy in Heinrich Hoffmann’s ‘The Story of the Inky Boys’ International Research in Children’s Literature. Volume 2.2009. http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/abs/10.3366/E1755619809000489. Cited 15-11-2013
3.Everthing.TheStoryof Inky Boys.2002&2003. http://everything2.com/title/The+Story+of+the+Inky+boys cited 15-11-2013