Exploring how the notion of Malaysian national identity is constructed through popular print mediums (1957- 2007).
Abstract : Paper submitted for Universal Design, Hamamatsu, Japan
Stereotypical icons and graphic representations play significant roles in shaping the construction of a country’s identity. This paper attempts to place a preliminary groundwork in context, exploring the relationships between popular print mediums and the construction of the notion of Malaysian national identity through the design of stereotypical iconic images. It will present an overviews of three different case studies across the five decades spanning Malaysia as independent nation (1957-2007). The case studies are made up of a) the covers of WANITA (Malaysia’s women’s magazine), b) a collection of images by Malaysian cartoonist Lat and c) iklan or advertisements, gathered from national newspapers and magazines. The paper will discuss how Malaysian national identity is constructed in stereotypical icons and how the design of that identity is evident in populist, mass-culture oriented print mediums, unlike more elitist and officially sanctioned modes of cultural memory (such as national museums and achieves). It argues that the design in these print mediums serves as a ephemeral repository of cultural representation and images, and has a significant role in construction of Malaysian national identity that often has been overlooked.