The Myth of the Lazy Native (Gerakbudaya)
Syed Hussein Alatas
Syed Farid Alatas (Foreword)
Paperback, 266 pages
A Study of the Image of the Malays, Filipinos and Javanese from the 16th to the 20th Century and Its Function in the Ideology of Colonial Capitalism
Originally published in 1977, The Myth of the Lazy Native is an early example of a systematic critique of colonial knowledge. Syed Hussein Alatas analyses the origins of the myth of the 'lazy native' from the 16th to the 20th century in Malaysia, the Philippines and Indonesia, and how it functions within colonial capitalism, a type of transformed feudal order with racial undertones. The 'indolence' that the native population was accused of was not just linked to labour; the entire concept of their humanity was derived from the interests of colonial capitalism — in service of which they had to be degraded and made to feel subservient, lest they cast off the foreign yoke. Alatas' seminal work also shows that these ideas still have a considerable influence, even after the independence of the colonies.