Ethnic Relations and Nation-Building in Southeast Asia: The Case of the Ethnic Chinese

Ethnic Relations and Nation-Building in Southeast Asia: The Case of the Ethnic Chinese
Leo Suryadinata, editor
Date of publication:  2004
Publisher:  ISEAS / NIAS
Number of pages:  251
Code:  BM250


"On the whole, these chapters argue each in their own way and from different academic perspectives that nation building in Indonesia, Malaysia, or Singapore has by no means been or is an easy task for young states or for the ethnic Chinese constituting minorities in these countries. This conclusion is in accordace with historian Wang Gungwu who in the initial chapter argues that nation building on the basis of the European model is a challenge given the relatively novelty of this concept in Southeast Asia. Wang suggests that part of the problem with ethnic integration of the Chinese in Malaysia and Indonesia is caused by the distinctiveness of Chinese culture: 'indeed this [nation-building task] is particularly difficult, not least because most Chinese have inherited a deep-rooted, demanding, and distinctive culture' (p.5.). The studies included in this volume, however, suggest that it is not the nature of Chinese culture per se, but rather national policies of nation building based on so-called indigenous cultures which result in the exclusiion of ethnic Chinese from mainstream society in Indonesia and Malaysia. In contrast, in Singapore recent attempts to mold an indigenous Chinese Singaporean culture seems to alienate ethnic minority groups such as the Indians and the Malays" (China Information).

About the publication

Ethnic/racial relations have been a perennial theme in Southeast Asian studies. Current events have highlighted the tensions among ethnic groups and the need to maintain ethnic/racial harmony for national unity. This book analyses ethnic/race relations in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, with special reference to the roles of ethnic Chinese in nation-building. It brings together a group of established Southeast Asian scholars to critically examine some of the important issues such as ethnic politics, nation-building, state policies, and conflict resolution. These scholars of different ethnic origins present their own ethnic perspectives and hence make the book unique. This is the most up-to-date book on ethnic/racial relations with special reference to the ethnic Chinese in three Southeast Asian countries.

Co-publication: ISEAS / NIAS

Institute of Southeast Asian Studies / Nordic Institute of Asian Studies


  • Ethnic Relations and Nation-Building in Southeast Asia: The Case of the Ethnic Chinese
  • Preliminary pages
  • 1. Chinese Ethnicity in New Southeast Asian Nations, by Wang Gungwu, author
  • 2. Unity in Diversity: Ethnic Chinese and Nation-Building in Indonesia, by Mely Caballero-Anthony, author
  • 3. Pri and Non-Pri Relations in the Reform Era: A Pribumi Perspective, by A Dahana, author
  • 4. Racial Discrimination in the Indonesian Legal System: Ethnic Chinese and Nation-Building, by A Dahana, author
  • 5. Differing Perspectives on Integration and Nation-Building in Malaysia, by Lee Kam Hing, author
  • 6. Text and Collective Memories: The Construction of Chinese and Chineseness from the Perspective of a Malay, by Shamsul A B, author
  • 7. Nation-Building in Malaysia: Victimization of Indians?, by P Ramasamy, author
  • 8. The Majority's Sacrifices and Yearnings: Chinese-Singaporeans and the Dilemmas of Nation-Building, by Eugene Tan Kheng Boon, author
  • 9. Ethnic Relations in Singapore: Evidence from Survey Data, by Tan Ern Ser, author
  • 10. An Outsider Looking In at Chinese Singaporeans, by Sharon Siddique, author
  • 11. Ethnic Chinese and Nation-Building: Concluding Remarks, by Leo Suryadinata, author
  • Index of Names; Index of Subjects

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