A history of an identity, an identity of a history: The idea and practice of 'Malayness' in Malaysia reconsidered

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80 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article is a critique of ethnicity theories based on essentialisin - the idea that ethnic traits are innate (essences) both in the individual and the 'ethnie' as a social group - which have been adopted, wittingly or unwittingly, by historians in mainstream Malaysian historiography in their effort to explain the formation of 'Malay-Malayness' as a social identity. It proposes instead that Malay ethnicity is not innate but rather learned or constructed, and Malay-Malayness has been created as a result of intersecting historical, cultural and social factors at a particular moment in a culture's life and history. Indeed, Malay-Malayness has been constructed by a colonial historiography and subsequently adopted uncritically by most historians in postcolonial Malaysia, both Malays and non-Malays.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-366
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Southeast Asian Studies
Volume32
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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ethnicity
historiography
Malaysia
historian
history
cultural factors
social factors
Ethnic Groups
Historian
Historiography
History
social group
Social Identity
Social Groups
Colonies
Essence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

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