Episode 16: The Crowdfunded University
Dr. Thum Ping Tjin, Research Associate, Centre for Global History, University of Oxford
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The campaign for Nanyang University (“Nantah”) was the first mass-based, locally oriented, popular campaign in Malaya, and resulted in Southeast Asia’s first crowdfunded university. Why were the Chinese so passionate about Nantah? Why did Chinese people from all walks of life give so much of their precious, hard-earned money to bring about its creation? And perhaps most importantly, what does the creation of Nantah tell us about how Malaya’s Chinese saw their place in Malaya and the composition identity? In this episode, PJ Thum delves into detail about the legendary Nantah campaign; explains the opposing visions of Malayan identity held by the Chinese and the British colonial authorities; and concludes with how the success of its campaign, in the teeth of heavy colonial resistance, emboldened and empowered the Chinese, setting up the explosive confrontations of the next few years.
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