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Between Kingdom and Nation: The Metamorphosis of Malay Identity in Malaysia

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Conceptions of Malay identity have undergone various transformations in the face of political and economic changes over time. In the pre-colonial period it was centred on personal loyalty and kinship ties within a sultanate. During the colonial years the establishment of territorial jurisdiction and an incipient state by the British extended the basis of the Malay identification. At the same time a pan-Malay consciousness was competitively articulated for the first time between the non-Malay Muslim and Malay Muslim intelligentsia. Decolonization and impending nationhood engendered an exclusive formulation of Malay identity in response to the Chinese presence. As a consequence of the modernization of Malay society and the emergence of a significant Malay middle class, new definitions are being sought to accommodate changing circumstances.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology National University of Singapore


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