Farish A. Noor


History may be written by the victors, but what they conveniently leave out can be more telling. Farish Noor reminds us of the violent side of colonial conquest. “All conquest literature seeks to explain to the conquerors ‘why we are here’.” – Robert Bartlett,The Making of Europe (1993) Among the many outcomes of the colonial era in Southeast Asia – from the 18th to the 19th century – is a body of writing that can be best described as colonial literature. By this I am referring not only to the accounts that were written by intrepid European travellers who ventured to this region, but also the writings of colonial bureaucrats, colony-builders and administrators, and the men who took part in the conquest of the region by force of arms. The Justification for Violence It is interesting to see how these authors dealt with the issue of violence that often came…