WP #42: The Cultural Identity of the Chinese-Malays in Brunei

In “The Cultural Identity of the Chinese-Malays in Brunei: Acculturation and Hybridity”, Nur Shawatriqah Binti Hj Md Sahrifulhafiz and Chang-Yau Hoon explore the ways in which Bruneians who are born into Chinese-Malay families define their identity.

Authors: Nur Shawatriqah Binti Hj Md Sahrifulhafiz and Chang-Yau Hoon

Abstract: This paper explores the ways in which Bruneians who are born into a Chinese-Malay family define their identity, how the state classifies them in terms of “race”, how they negotiate their bicultural practices, and what challenges they face while growing up. It argues that possibly due to their relatively small population and due to the hegemonic force of assimilation, the Chinese-Malay community in Brunei has not developed a distinct hybrid identity like their Peranakan counterparts in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Nonetheless, by examining the experience of inbetweenness among these biracial subjects, the paper alludes to the power relations that define the boundaries of exclusion and inclusion, belonging and non-belonging.

Keywords: Chinese-Malay, Brunei, acculturation, identity, hybridity

About the Authors: Nur Shawatriqah Binti Hj Md Sahrifulhafiz is a graduate majoring in Sociology and Anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. This paper was developed from her final-year thesis under the guidance of Associate Professor Chang-Yau Hoon. She is planning to pursue a postgraduate degree in Sociology.

Contact: shawatriqah@gmail.com

Dr Chang-Yau Hoon is Director of the Centre for Advanced Research and Associate Professor at the Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Prior to this, he was Assistant Professor of Asian Studies and Sing Lun Fellow at the School of Social Sciences, Singapore Management University (SMU), where he received the SMU Teaching Excellence Award in 2012 and SMU Research Excellence Award in 2014. He is currently also Adjunct Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia (UWA), where he obtained his PhD (with Distinction) in 2007. His book, Chinese Identity in Post-Suharto Indonesia: Culture, Media and Politics (2008, Sussex Academic Press), has been translated into Chinese and Indonesian. He is the co-editor of Chinese Indonesians Reassessed: History, Religion and Belonging (Routledge, 2013), and Catalysts of Change: Ethnic Chinese Business in Asia (World Scientific, 2014). He has published dozens of journal articles and book chapters on the Chinese diaspora, identity politics, multiculturalism, and religious and cultural diversity in contemporary Southeast Asia.

Contact: changyau.hoon@ubd.edu.bn

IAS Working Paper Editorial Committee:
Professor Lian Kwen Fee (kwenfee.lian@ubd.edu.bn)
Assistant Professor Merlin F. Franco (merlin.francis@ubd.edu.bn)

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