In this paper, I trace the development of my work on race and ethnicity over my academic career, as a reflection in part of my biographical background. My interest in race and ethnic relations originated from my experience of the race riots in Kuala Lumpur on May 13th in 1969, subsequently grounded in graduate school in New Zealand where I conducted research on the Chinese and the Maoris. My early work on returning to Singapore was on Malay identity in the region. It moved on later to writing about the marginalization of Tamils as an underclass in Malaysia and then a broader consideration of race, class, and politics in Peninsular Malaysia precipitated by the General Election of 2008. Since the 1990s the representation of race and politics has pre-occupied many social science discourses, which is reflected in my work on the politics of racialization and Malay identity in Singapore.
Keywords: Malaysia, Singapore, racialization, race, ethnic identity, politics
Lian Kwen Fee is Professor of Sociology at the Institute of Asian Studies, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. His research interests are race and ethnicity, multiculturalism, migration, and the politics of identity. His most recent edited books are ‘Multiculturalism, Migration, and the Politics of Identity in Singapore’ (2016) and ‘International Migration in Southeast Asia: Continuities and Discontinuities’ (2016), and ‘International Labour Migration in the Middle East and Asia; Issues of Inclusion and Exclusion’ (2019), all published by Springer.