Identity and the State in Malaysia: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Identity and the State in Malaysia

1st Edition

By Fausto Barlocco


176 pages

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Using the case study of the Kadazan of Sabah, a region in the Malaysian section of Borneo, this book examines national, ethnic and local identities in post-colonial states. It shows the importance of the connection between lived experience and identity and belonging, and by doing so, provides a deeper and fuller explanation of the apparently contradictory conflict between different collective forms of identification and the way in which they are employed in reference to everyday situations.

Based on ethnographic fieldwork and historical analysis, the book reconstructs the development of the cultural forms and labels associated with the collective identities it studies. The author employs an approach that sees collective identification as an expression of everyday practices and that stresses the importance of participation and familiarity between forms of identification and lived experience. In this context, he considers anthropological debates about state-minorities relations and issues of ‘dignity’ and ‘respect’.

Explaining state-minority relations in Malaysia and more generally in other post-colonial realities, the insights presented are highly relevant to other cases of conflicting allegiances and identity politics in settings of post-colonial nation-building.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction 2. Introducing the 'field': The ethnographic setting of the research 3. The formation of the Kadazan: Ethnic identities in pre-colonial, colonial and early post-colonial Sabah 4. The Dusunic peoples and Malaysian nation-building (1967 - present) 5. Self and other: Collective identities between citizenship rights and illegal immigration 6. Media and belonging to the nation 7. The constitution of village belonging through leisure sociality 8. A tale of two celebrations: The Pesta Kaamatan as a site of struggle between the Dusunic peoples and the state 9. Conclusion

About the Author

Fausto Barlocco studied at Roehampton and SOAS and received his PhD from Loughborough University, UK. He has taught Social Science at Nottingham Trent International College, UK, and is now an independent researcher.

About the Series

The Modern Anthropology of Southeast Asia

The books in this series address issues in processes of development, globalisation and change in Southeast Asia. Where appropriate they contextualise change and local responses to it by providing ethnographic materials on social and cultural forms and institutions. Although all the contributors to the series examine modern and contemporary issues in the anthropology of Southeast Asia, the emphasis in each book differs as authors choose to concentrate on specific dimensions of change and globalisation or work out particular conceptual approaches to the complex issues of development. Areas of concern include: nation-building, power and the media; technological innovations in agriculture and rural-urban migration; the expansion of industrial and commercial employment; the rapid increase in cultural and ethnic tourism; the consequences of deforestation and environmental degradation; heritage and identity; contemporary expressions of religious affliliation; the 'modernisation of tradition'; ethnic identity and conflict; changing gender relations; and the religious transformation of society.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Ethnic Studies / General