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Schindler's List in Malaysia: Anti-Semitism or National Politics?

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When Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List was banned in Malaysia in 1994, most Westerners probably saw the act as a simple case of anti-Semitism by the Islamic government of a relatively obscure Third World nation. Although anti-Semitism certainly was a factor, the case was hardly simple.

This incident was complicated in several ways. It was, primarily, the inevitable result of a clash of cultures. One of these, that of the United States, is Western, liberal, economically developed and has an essentially Judaic-Christian tradition. The other is Asian, conservative, a developing Third World economy, essentially Islamic, and has a tradition of government and sense of community that differs from those of the West. Other factors include the realities of national and regional politics, changing alliances among nations and ideological groups, and, finally, the universal factors of simple human pride and emotion.

Keywords: Malaysia; Schindler's List; Third World economy; anti-Semitism; culture; national politics

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: National University of Singapore 2: Auburn University

Publication date: September 1, 1997

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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