George Perkins Marsh has successfully highlighted the importance of the subjective in "seeing". Without precisely labelling the process as a "cognitive" one, Marsh nevertheless recognised that people's perceptions and evaluations are significant filters in the understanding of any social "reality". In the same vein, Gailey (1982:ix) has also pointed out that people are not "mere reflections of a period. They impose their own order and vision upon their times". In this paper, we will focus specifically on this cognitive element; in particular, we have chosen two people of similar sex, nationality and professions, working in Malaya in the same period, to discuss the importance of their cognitive capacities in providing both similar and dissimilar perceptions of a country and its people. We will discuss Sir Hugh Clifford (1866-1941) and Sir Frank Swettenham (1851-1946), early British Residents in Malaya, to highlight their historical perceptions of Malaya during the colonial period (Figure 1) as evident in their writings and to discuss the influences on these perceptions.
Asian Studies | Human Geography
Asian Research Service
Savage, Victor R., & KONG, Lily.(1994). Hugh Clifford and Frank Swettenham: Environmental cognition and the Malayan colonial process. Asian Profile, 22(4), 295-309.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/soss_research/2271
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