Sociological Forum

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 330–361 | Cite as

The making of race in colonial Malaya: Political economy and racial ideology

  • Charles Hirschman
Articles

Abstract

The conventional interpretation of the “race problem” in Peninsular Malaysia (Malaya) is founded upon the supposedly inevitable frictions between ethnic communities with sharply divergent cultural traditions. In this view, assimilation between the indigenous Malay population and the descendants of immigrants from China and India was always a remote possibility. In this paper I argue that modern “race relations” in Peninsular Malaysia, in the sense of impenetrable group boundaries, were a byproduct of British colonialism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Prior to 1850, inter-ethnic relations among Asian populations were marked by cultural stereotypes and occasional hostility, but there were also possibilities for inter-ethnic alliances and acculturation. Direct colonial rule brought European racial theory and constructed a social and economic order structured by “race.” A review of the writing of observers of colonial society provides a crude test of this hypothesis.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Abraham, Collin E. R. 1977 Race Relations in West Malaysia with Special Reference to Modern Political Economic Development. Unpublished Ph.D. thesis, Oxford University.Google Scholar
  2. 1983 “Racial and ethnic manipulation in colonial Malaya.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 6 (January):18–32.Google Scholar
  3. Allen, J. de V. 1964 “Two Imperialists: A study of Sir Frank Swettenham and Sir Hugh Clifford.” Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 37(1):41–73.Google Scholar
  4. Andaya, Barbara Watson. 1979 Perak, the Abode of Grace: A Study of an Eighteenth Century Malay State. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Andaya, Barbara Watson andLeonard Y. Andaya 1982 A History of Malaysia. London: Macmillan Press.Google Scholar
  6. Andaya, Leonard Y. 1975 The Kingdom of Johor, 1641–1728. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Baltzell, E. Digby 1964 The Protestant Establishment: Aristocracy and Caste in America. New York: Vintage Books.Google Scholar
  8. Banton, Michael 1983 Racial and Ethnic Competition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Begbie, P. J. 1967 The Malayan Peninsula. (1834*) Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Blythe, W. L. 1947 “Historical sketch of Chinese labour in Malaya.” Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 20:64–114.Google Scholar
  11. 1973 “A theory of middleman minorities.” American Sociological Review 38:503–594.Google Scholar
  12. 1980 “Class approaches to ethnicity and race.” Insurgent Sociologist 10(Fall):9–23.Google Scholar
  13. Bonacich, Edna andJohn Modell 1980 The Economic Basis of Ethnic Solidarity: Small Business with Japanese American Community. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  14. Boxer, C. R. 1965 The Dutch Seabourne Empire. London: Hutchinson and Co.Google Scholar
  15. Burns, P. L., ed. 1976 The Journals of J. W. W. Birch: First British Resident to Perak 1874–1875. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Burns, P. L. andC. D. Cowan, eds. 1975 Sir Frank Swettenham's Malayan Journals, 1874–1876. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Butcher, John G. 1971 Attitudes of British Colonial Officials Toward Malays. Unpublished masters thesis, University of Wisconsin.Google Scholar
  18. 1979a “Toward the history of Malayan society: Kuala Lumpur District, 1885–1912.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 10(March):104–118.Google Scholar
  19. 1979b The British in Malaya 1880–1941: The Social History of a European Community in Colonial Southeast Asia. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Cameron, John. 1965 Our Tropical Possessions in Malayan India. Oxford in Asia Historical Reprint. (1865*) Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Cham, B. N. 1977 “Colonialism and communalism in Malaysia.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 7:178–199.Google Scholar
  22. Cheah, Boon Kheng 1981 “Sino-Malay conflicts in Malaya, 1945–46: Vendetta and Islamic resistance.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 12 (March):108–117.Google Scholar
  23. 1980 Straits Chinese Society: Studies in the Sociology of the Baba Communities of Malaysia and Singapore. Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
  24. 1983 “The Straits Chinese in Melaka.” In Kernial Singh Sandhu and Paul Wheatley (eds.), Melaka: The Transformation of a Malay Capital, c. 1400–1980. Vol. 2: 156–173. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Comber, Leon 1983 13 May 1969: A Historical Survey of Sino-Malay Relations. Kuala Lumpur: Heinemann Asia.Google Scholar
  26. Connor, Walker 1984 The National Question in Marxist-Leninist Theory and Strategy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Clifford, Hugh 1929 Bushwacking and Other Asiatic Tales and Memories. New York: Harper and Brothers.Google Scholar
  28. Couillard, Marie-Andre 1984 “The Malays and the ‘Sakai’: Some comments on their social relations in the Malay Peninsula.” Kajian Malaysia (Pennang, Malaysia) 2(June):81–108.Google Scholar
  29. Cowan, C. D. 1961 Nineteenth-Century Malaya: The Origins of British Political Control. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Cox, Oliver C. 1948 Caste, Class, and Race. New York: Doubleday.Google Scholar
  31. Crawfurd, John 1820 History of the Indian Archipelago, 2 Vols. Edinburgh: Archibald Constable.Google Scholar
  32. Curtin, Philip D. 1964 The Image of Africa. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.Google Scholar
  33. Dodge, N. H. 1981 “The Malay-Aborigine nexus under Malay rule.” Bijdragen tot de Taal, Land-en Volkenkunde, deel 137, alevering 1–16.Google Scholar
  34. Emerson, Rupert 1964 Malaysia: A Study in Direct and Indirect Rule. (1937*) Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press.Google Scholar
  35. Fredrickson, George M. 1981 White Supremacy: A Comparative Study of American and South African History. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Freedman, Maurice 1960 “The growth of the plural society in Malaya.” Pacific Affairs 33:158–168.Google Scholar
  37. Gosling, L. A. P. 1964 “Migration and assimilation of rural Chinese in Trengganu.” In John Bastin (ed.), Malayan and Indonesian Studies: Essays Presented to Sir Richard Winstedt: 201–221. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  38. Gould, Stephen Jay 1981 The Mismeasure of Man. New York: W. W. Norton.Google Scholar
  39. 1954 “The war with Yam Tuan Antah.” Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 27(May):123.Google Scholar
  40. 1985 “The entrepreneur in late nineteenth century Malay peasant society.” Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 58(1):59–70.Google Scholar
  41. Hall, D. G. E. 1981 A History of South-East Asia, 4th ed. New York: St. Martins Press.Google Scholar
  42. 1964 Patterns of Race in the Americas. New York: Walker.Google Scholar
  43. 1968 “Race.” in David L. Sills (ed.) International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol. 13:263–268. New York: The Macmillan Company and the Free Press.Google Scholar
  44. Harrison, Brian 1954 “Malacca in the eighteenth century: Two Dutch governors' reports.” Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 37(1):24–34.Google Scholar
  45. Hechter, Michael. 1975 Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  46. Heisler, Martin, O., ed. 1977 Ethnic Conflict in the World Today. The Annals 443 (September): 1–160.Google Scholar
  47. 1984 “Ethnic diversity and social change in Southeast Asia: Some preliminary thoughts.” In Ronald Morse (ed.), Southeast Asian Studies: Proceedings of a Conference at the Wilson Center, March 26, 1984:106–122. Washington, DC: University Press of America.Google Scholar
  48. Hirschman, Charles 1985 “The meaning and measurement of ethnicity in Malaysia: An analysis of census classifications.” Unpublished manuscript, Department of Sociology, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  49. Horowitz, Donald 1985 Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  50. Hussein Alatas, Syed 1977 The Myth of the Lazy Native: A Study of the Image of the Malays, Filipinos, and Javanese From the 16th to the 20th Century and its Function in the Ideology of Colonial Capitalism. London: Frank Cass.Google Scholar
  51. 1964 “Population changes in Selangor state, 1850–1891.” Journal of Tropical Geography 19(December):42–57.Google Scholar
  52. 1968 Planters and Speculators, Chinese and European Agricultural Enterprise in Malaya 1786–1921. Singapore: University of Malaya Press.Google Scholar
  53. Jackson, R. N. 1961 Immigrant Labour and the Development of Malaya: 1786–1920. Kuala Lumpur: Government Press.Google Scholar
  54. Jones, Greta 1980 Social Darwinism and English Thought: The Interaction Between Biological and Social Theory. Sussex: The Harvester Press.Google Scholar
  55. Kemasang, A. R. T. 1982 “The 1740 massacre of Chinese in Java: Curtain raiser for the Dutch plantation econony.” Bulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars 14 (January–March):61–71.Google Scholar
  56. Kennedy, Raymond 1945 “The colonial crisis and the future.” In Ralph Linton (ed.), The Science of Man in the World Crisis. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  57. 1966 “The origins of British administration in Malaya.” Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 39(1):52–91.Google Scholar
  58. 1972 The Western Malay States 1850–1873. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  59. 1981 “Sino-Malay relations in Peninsular Malaysia before 1942.” Journal of Southeast Asia Studies 12(March):93–107.Google Scholar
  60. Kratoska, Paul. H. 1982 “Rice cultivation and the ethnic division of labor in British Malaya.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 24(April):280–314.Google Scholar
  61. Kratoska, Paul H., ed. 1983 Honorable Intentions: Talks on the British Empire in Southeast Asia Delivered at the Royal Colonial Institute 1874–1928. Singapore: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  62. Lamb, Alastair 1964 “Early history.” In Wang Gungwu (ed.), Malaysia: A Survey: 99–112. New York: Praeger.Google Scholar
  63. Lewis, Dianne 1982 “The last Malay Raja Muda of Johor.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 13(September):221–235.Google Scholar
  64. 1961 “A societal theory of race and ethnic relations.” American Sociological Review 26:902–910.Google Scholar
  65. 1980 A Piece of the Pie: Blacks and White Immigrants Since 1880. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  66. Lim, Chong Yah 1967 Economic Development of Modern Malaya. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  67. 1977 Peasants and their Agricultural Economy in Colonial Malaya, 1874–1941. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  68. 1984 “British colonial administration and the ‘ethnic division of labour’ in Malaya.” Kajian Malaysia 2(December):28–66.Google Scholar
  69. 1969 The Malay States, 1877–1895: Political Change and Social Policy. Singapore: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  70. 1975 Seeds of Separation: Educational Policy in Malaya 1874–1940. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  71. McNair, J. F. 1972 Perak and the Malays. (1878*) Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  72. Maxwell, George 1943 “The mixed communities of Malaya.” British Malaya (February): 115–121.Google Scholar
  73. Meilink-Roelofsz, M. A. P. 1962 Asian Trade and European Influence in the Indonesian Archipelago Between 1500 and About 1630. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  74. Milner, A. C. 1982 Kerajaan: Malay Political Culture on the Even of Colonial Rule. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press.Google Scholar
  75. Nagata, Judith 1974 “What is a Malay?: Situational selection of ethnic identity in a plural society.” American Ethnologist 1:331–50.Google Scholar
  76. Newbold, T. J. 1839 Political and Statistical Account of the British Settlements in the Straits of Malacca. London: Albemarle.Google Scholar
  77. Parkinson, C. Northcote 1960 British Intervention in Malaya 1867–1877. Singapore: University of Malaya Press.Google Scholar
  78. 1948 Chinese in Malaya. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  79. 1951 The Chinese in Southeast Asia. London: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  80. 1965 The Memoirs of a Malayan Official. London: Cassell.Google Scholar
  81. Reid, Anthony 1980 “The structure of cities in Southeast Asia, fifteenth to seventeenth centuries.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 11(September):235–250.Google Scholar
  82. Roff, William 1967 The Origins of Malay Nationalism. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  83. Rudner, Martin 1970 “The state of peasant innovation in rural development: The case of Malaysian rubber.” Asian and African Studies 6:75–96.Google Scholar
  84. Sadka, Emily 1954 “The journal of Sir Hugh Low, Perak 1877” Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 27(4):1–108.Google Scholar
  85. Sandhu, Kernial Singh 1961 “Chinese colonization in Melaka. Journal of Tropical Geography 15:1–26.Google Scholar
  86. 1969 Indians in Malaya: Some Aspects of Their Immigration and Settlement (1786–1957). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  87. Saw, Swee Hock 1963 “Trends and differentials in international migration in Malaya.” Ekonomi 4(December):87–113.Google Scholar
  88. Skinner, G. William 1960 “Change and persistance in Chinese culture overseas: A comparison of Thailand and Java.” Journal of the South Seas Society 16(1/2):86–100.Google Scholar
  89. Slimming, John 1969 Malaysia: Death of a Democracy. London: John Murray.Google Scholar
  90. Somers-Heidhues, Mary F. 1974 Southeast Asia's Chinese Minorities. Hawthorne, Victoria, Australia: Longman Australia Pty. Limited.Google Scholar
  91. Thompson, Edgar T. 1975 “The plantation as a race making situation.” In Plantation Societies, Race Relations, and the South: The Regimentation of Populations/Selected Papers of Edgar T. Thompson: 115–117. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  92. 1976 “The origin of the Krangchu System.” Journal of the Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 59(2):132–155.Google Scholar
  93. 1979 Prince of Pirates: The Temanggongs and the Development of Johore and Singapore. Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
  94. 1967 Race and Racism: A Comparative Perspective. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  95. 1976 “The African diaspora in Mexico, Brazil, and the United States.” Social Forces 54(March):530–545.Google Scholar
  96. 1981 The Ethnic Phenomenon. New York: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  97. Wallace, Alfred Russel 1983 The Malay Archipelago. (1869) Singapore: Graham Brash (Pte) Ltd.Google Scholar
  98. Stenson, Michael 1980 Class, Race, and Colonialism in West Malaysia: The Indian Case. Vancouver: University of British Columbia.Google Scholar
  99. Stevenson, Rex 1975 Cultivators and Administrators: British Educational Policy Toward the Malays, 1875–1906. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  100. Stockwell, A. J. 1982 “The white man's burden and brown humanity: Colonialism and ethnicity in British Malaya.” Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science 10(1):44–68.Google Scholar
  101. 1900 The Real Malay. London: John Lane.Google Scholar
  102. 1955 British Malaya: An Account of the Origin and Process of British Influence in Malaya. (1906) London: George Allen.Google Scholar
  103. Tan, Chee Beng 1983 “Acculturation and the Chinese in Melaka: The expression of Baba identity today.” In L. A. Peter Gosling and Linda Y. C. Lim (eds.), The Chinese in Southeast Asia, Vol. 2. Singapore: Maruzen Asia.Google Scholar
  104. Warnford-Lock, C. G. 1907 Mining in Malaya for Gold and Tin. London: Carwither and Goodman.Google Scholar
  105. Wang, Gungwu 1981 Community and Nation: Essays on Southeast Asia and the Chinese. Singapore: Heinemann.Google Scholar
  106. Wertheim, W. F. 1968 “Southeast Asia.” In David L. Sills (ed.), International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Vol 1:423–434. New York: Macmillan and the Free Press.Google Scholar
  107. Wheatley, Paul 1961 The Golden Khersonese: Studies in the Historical Geography of the Malay Peninsula Before A.D. 1500. Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya Press.Google Scholar
  108. Wolters, O. W. 1970 The Fall of Srivijaya in Malay History. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  109. Wong Lin Ken 1965 The Malayan Tin Industry to 1914. Tucson, AZ: Association for Asian Studies.Google Scholar
  110. Wright, Arnold andThomas H. Reid 1912 The Malay Peninsula: A Record of British Progress in the Middle East. London: T. Fisher Unwin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Eastern Sociological Society 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Hirschman
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations