Journal of International and Global Studies


The ethnic Chinese in Malaysia have always been a politically conscious minority. Much of this was shaped during Malaysia’s (Malaya) colonial period when the Chinese community began experiencing various social insecurities associated with life as a diaspora. For one, as a migrant minority in a colonial society, the Chinese faced various uncertainties over their ability to maintain their cultural identity in a multiethnic capitalist society. Additionally, their own contradictory ideas about their status in Malaya as well as their segmented experiences along socio-economic lines did not accord them any unity in deciding their own political future. Using theories in political identity-building among minorities, this essay provides a historical overview of how these insecurities have constructed for the Chinese diaspora a general framework for political identity-building in colonial Malaya. It shows that although the Chinese in colonial Malaya shared a common diasporic origin, they were nevertheless differentiated in their social outlooks and political activism.

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Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.