The making of race in colonial Malaya: Political economy and racial ideology

  title={The making of race in colonial Malaya: Political economy and racial ideology},
  author={Charles Hirschman},
  journal={Sociological Forum},
  • C. Hirschman
  • Published 1 March 1986
  • Sociology
  • Sociological Forum
The conventional interpretation of the “race problem” in Peninsular Malaysia (Malaya) is founded upon the supposedly inevitable frictions between ethnic communities with sharply divergent cultural traditions. In this view, assimilation between the indigenous Malay population and the descendants of immigrants from China and India was always a remote possibility. In this paper I argue that modern “race relations” in Peninsular Malaysia, in the sense of impenetrable group boundaries, were a… 

Figures from this paper

The meaning of race in Malaysia: Colonial, post-colonial and possible new conjunctures
New transitions – and tensions – in Malaysian society have created a much-needed space for critical reflection on the meaning of race. They have also provided the impetus to rethink the dominant
An invasion on the mind? A study of the Malay subject under the colonial governmentality of British rule
The administration of the colonial census has often been depicted as exercising a panoptical power over the colonial subject in constructing their notions of race. This makes the colonial subject
Intellectual Discourse
Ethnicity is a complex concept which is easily taken as a primordial notion inherited from previous generations. This primordial understanding of ethnicity continues to dominate post-independence
From Colonial Pluralism to Postcolonial Multiculturalism: Race, State Formation and the Question of Cultural Diversity in Malaysia and Singapore
In postcolonial societies, multiculturalism is a historical problem conditioned by colonial racial knowledge and state formation on the one hand, and by the ethnic conflicts of decolonization on the
British Colonial Legacies and the Making of Malay(si)a
This chapter discusses the three colonial legacies of race, education, and citizenship/nationality in the Malaysian context using a post colonial perspective. It traces thematically the intertwined
Malay male migrants: Negotiating contested identities in Malaysia
Ethnic identity has dominated the political and social landscape of Malaysia throughout most of the 20th century. Recent changes, including government development policies, feminization of the
The lost race in British Malaya: revisiting the problems of south Indian labourers
ABSTRACT This article discusses the history of socioeconomic and political exclusion of south Indian labourers in Malaya in relation to the racial policy of the British administration from 1907 until
Bridging the Race Barrier: Between “Sakai” and “Malay” in the Census Categorisations of British Malaya
Abstract: Racial boundary-making has been an oft highlighted theme in the study of colonialism. The most overt symbol of British attempts to make sense of the peoples in the Malay Peninsula is the
Race, Class and Politics in Peninsular Malaysia: The General Election of 2008
Abstract Racial politics have bedevilled peninsular Malaysia since independence in 1957, largely sustained by a ruling coalition of partners sharing power unequally, in a consociational government.
Intermarriage in colonial Malaya and Singapore: A case study of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Roman Catholic and Methodist Asian communities
Colonial race relations are regularly portrayed in light of the attempts to divide and rule colonialised Asian communities. While this article does not challenge this view, it attempts to uncover a


The White Man's Burden and Brown Humanity: Colonialism and Ethnicity in British Malaya
Ethnicity is one of several boundary phenomena (another is class) marking out groups within society. Ethnic identity may be perceived according to a variety of terms such as race, culture, religion,
Towards the History of Malayan Society: Kuala Lumpur District, 1885–1912
Colonial Malaya is one of the classic examples of a plural society. In Furnivall's memorable words, it was a society in which “each group holds its own religion, its own culture and language, its own
Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development
Recent years have seen a resurgence of separatist sentiments among national minorities in many industrial societies, including the United Kingdom. In 1997, the Scottish and Welsh both set up their
Racial and ethnic competition
Most studies of racial and ethnic relations discuss the position in a single country. Professor Banton's book is notable for its internationalism. It formulates principles that govern the development
Rice Cultivation and the Ethnic Division of Labor in British Malaya
The idea that the British colonial administration of Malaya systematically excluded non-Malays from rice cultivation has gained some currency in writings on Malaysian history and has become an
The Ethnic Phenomenon
Preface Introduction: Theories and Ideologies of Ethnic Relations An Explanatory Framework Ethnicity as Kin Selection: The Biology of Nepotism Ethnicity and Resource Competition: The Ecology of
Sino-Malay Conflicts in Malaya, 1945-1946: Communist Vendetta and Islamic Resistance
The Japanese occupation (1941–45) in Malaya enabled the predominantly Chinese Malayan Communist Party (MCP) to increase its political influence during and after the war. As it was the only effective
The Meaning and Measurement of Ethnicity in Malaysia: An Analysis of Census Classifications
In Peninsular Malaysia,1 the conventional ethnic divisions are "Malay," "Chinese," "Indian," and "Other." At first glance, this classification seems to represent the popular conception of "race" (the
what is a Malay? situational selection of ethnic identity in a plural society
Most studies to date of ethnic relations, ethnic boundaries, and criteria used to define ethnic status have been biased toward a particular “assimilationist” model drawn from experience in North
A Theory of Middleman Minorities
Investigates the "middleman minorities," a term coined by Blalock. Included in this classification are Jews in Europe, the Chinese in Southeast Asia, and Greeks in the United States. Previous works