Syed Hussein Alatas and Critical Social Theory

Decolonizing the Captive Mind


Volume Editors: and
Known for his most famous works, such as The Myth of the Lazy Native (1977) and The Problem of Corruption (1986), as well as his concept of the “captive mind,” Syed Hussein Alatas (1928-2007) has made significant contributions to decolonization theory, social theory, and other forms of thought critical of the current neo-colonial and neoliberal world. Although Edward Said acknowledged his debt to Syed Hussein Alatas’ work, especially its influence on Edward W. Said’s most famous book, Orientalism, Syed Hussein Alatas’ work has long been overlooked by Western academia, trapped in its Eurocentric perspective. Spurred by the commitment to continue the development of Syed Hussein Alatas’ work, this edited volume attempts to demonstrate the relevance of Syed Hussein Alatas to numerous academic fields, and the potential for his thought to be transformative in the international socio-political realm. Twenty authors from various disciplines and countries have contributed to Syed Hussein Alatas and Critical Social Theory: Decolonizing the Captive Mind, in the hopes of bringing his work to the forefront of social and political theory.

Contributors are: Mona Abaza, Joseph Alagha, Masturah Alatas, Sharifah Munirah Alatas, Syed Farid Alatas, Syed Imad Alatas, Hira Amin, Dustin J. Byrd, Zawawi Ibrahim, N. Jayaram, Teo Lee Ken, Habibul Haque Khondker, Victor T. King, João Marcelo E. Maia, Seyed Javad Miri, Carimo Mohomed, Chandra Muzaffar, Norshahril Saat, Mostafa Soueid, and Esmaeil Zeiny.

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Dustin J. Byrd, Ph.D. (2017), Michigan State University, is Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Olivet College. He is the Founder and Co-Director of the Institute for Critical Social Theory, and the Editor-in-Chief of Ekpyrosis Press. He has published numerous monographs, edited volumes, and articles on Islam, Critical Theory, and Political Philosophy. His latest books include: The Frankfurt School and the Dialectics of Religion: Translating Critical Faith into Critical Theory (Ekpyrosis Press, 2020), The Critique of Religion and Religion’s Critique: On Dialectical Religiology (Brill, 2020), and Frantz Fanon and Emancipatory Social Theory: A View from the Wretched (Brill, 2020).

Seyed Javad Miri, Ph.D. (2002), Bristol University, is Professor of Sociology and History of Religions at that Institute. He has published more than 61 books and 100+ articles on various issues related to Philosophy, Religion, and Sociology. He is a specialist in Islamic Social Theory, Inter-civilizational Discourse, and Contemporary Islamic Thought. He is also the founder of the journal Islamic Perspective, and serves as the co-director of the Institute for Critical Social Theory.

Notes on Contributors

Dustin J. Byrd and Seyed Javad Miri

Part 1
Alatas’ Work and Legacy
1 Developing a School of Autonomous Knowledge Thoughts of the Late Syed Hussein Alatas
  Syed Imad Alatas

2 The Midlife of an Idea Syed Hussein Alatas’ Captive Mind after Fifty Years
  Masturah Alatas

Part 2
Theorizing the Captive Mind
3 Alatas on Colonial and Autonomous Knowledge
  Syed Farid Alatas

4 The Psychological Dynamics of Mental Captivity Subsequent Conceptual Developments
  Dustin J. Byrd

5 The Cartography of Reception of ‘The Captive Mind’ in Iran
  Esmaeil Zeiny

6 “The Captive Mind” and Social Sciences in Southeast Asia Syed Hussein Alatas
  Mona Abaza

7 The Captive Mind Syndrome in Indian Sociology
  N. Jayaram

8 Psychological Feudalism Malay Political Culture and Responses towards Modernization
  Norshahril Saat

9 “Irrational” Beliefs in a “Rational” World Religion and Modernization
  Hira Amin

Part 3
Mythologizing and Demythologizing the Native
10 Demythologizing Dominant Discourses Syed Hussein Alatas’ The Myth of the Lazy Native and the Discourse on Malay Cultural Values and Underdevelopment
  Zawawi Ibrahim

11 Syed Hussein Alatas Colonialism and Modernity
  Joseph Alagha and Mostafa Soueid

12 The Invention of “Islam” How (Lazy) Historians and Social Scientists Created a Fantasy
  Carimo Mohomed

Part 4
Alatas and the Socio-political
13 Syed Hussein Alatas and the Question of Intellectuals
  Seyed Javad Miri

14 West-Centric Geopolitical Discourse Situating Syed Hussein Alatas in International Relations
  Sharifah Munirah Alatas

15 Alatas Pioneer in the Study of, and the Struggle against, Corruption
  Chandra Muzaffar

16 Syed Hussein Alatas and the Question of Political Thought
  Teo Lee Ken

17 Contributions of Syed Hussein Alatas towards Global Sociology
  Habibul Haque Khondker

18 East-West Interactions and Complexities Syed Hussein Alatas, Willem Wertheim and Edward Said
  Victor T. King

19 Hidden Connections Syed Hussein Alatas and Latin American Sociology
  João Marcelo E. Maia


All interested in decolonization theory, political psychology, colonialism, and anti-colonialism. This book is geared towards upper-level undergraduates, graduates, and specialists.
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