The Malay World and the Politics of Space

  • Riwanto Tirtosudarmo


This chapter reviews the literature on the history of Southeast Asia focusing on the realm of people’s movement and flow. Following Lefebvre’s the production of space this chapter assembles historical information to argue that the Malay world is nothing but a newly created political space – a political space that is formed and constituted by myriads of crisscrossing people’s flows and movements. Southeast Asia is the home of diverse cultures, indigenous or settlers, hybrid culture endlessly in the making. The chapter argues that two cultural identities, however, standout, the Malays and the Javanese. In the making of the Malay world, the contest and consensus of these two major cultural identities traversed in their flows and movements and constituted the unraveling politics of space in Southeast Asia.


Malay world Politics of space Migration Flow Movement Southeast Asia 


  1. Abdullah, F. H. (1993). The phenomenon of illegal immigrations. The Indonesian Quaterly, XXI(2.), Second Quarter), 171–186.Google Scholar
  2. Andaya, L. (2002). Orang Asli and Melayu Relations: A Cross-Border Perspective. Antropologi Indonesia, Tahun, XXVI(67 (January–April)), 46–68.Google Scholar
  3. Bahrain, T. S. (1967). The growth and distribution of the Indonesian population in Malaya. In Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde Deel 123, 2de Afl (pp. 267–286). Scholar
  4. Barnard, T. P., & Maier, H. M. J. (2004). Melayu, Malay, Maleis: Journeys through the identity of a collection. A preface in a book edited by. In T. P. Barnard (Ed.), Contesting Malayness: Malay identity across boundaries (pp. Ix–xiii). National University of Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bastin, J., & Benda, H. J. (1968). A history of modern Southeast Asia. Kuala Lumpur and Singapore: Federal Publications SDN BHD.Google Scholar
  6. Collins, J. T. (1989). Malay dialect research in Malaysia: The issue of perspective. Bijdragen tot de Taal-Land- en Volkenkunde, 145(2), 235–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Elmhirst, R. (1999). Space, identity politics and resource control in Indonesia’s transmigration programme. Political Geography, 18, 813–835 Encyclopaedie, 1917–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Embong, A. R. (2001). The culture and practice of pluralism in post-colonial Malaysia. In R. W. Hefner (Ed.), The politics of muliticulturalism: Pluralism and citizenship in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.Google Scholar
  9. Fau, N. (2004). Reviving serumpun identity across the Straits of Malacca. Paper presented at the international conference on ‘Thinking Malayness’, organised by ILCAA, TUFS, Fuchu, Tokyo, 19–21 June.Google Scholar
  10. Faucher, C. (2005). Regional autonomy, Malayness, and power hierarchy in the Riau Archipelago. In E. Maribeth, P. Sulistiyanto, & F. Carole (Eds.), Regionalism in post-Suharto Indonesia. Routledge Cusssrzon: Chapter Eight.Google Scholar
  11. Ford, M. (2003). Who are the Orang Riau? Negotiating identity across geographic and ethnic divides. In E. Aspinall & G. Fealy (Eds.), Local power and politics in Indonesia: Decentralization and democratisation (pp. 132–147). Singapore: ISEAS.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Houben, V. J. H. (1992). Java and the Java sea: Historical perspectives. In V. J. H. Houben, H. M. J. Maier, & W. van der Molen (Eds.), Looking in odd mirrors: The Java Sea (pp. 212–240). Leiden: SEMAIAN 5.Google Scholar
  13. Kassim, A. (1997). Illegal Aalien labour in Malaysia: Its influx, utilisation and ramifications. In Indonesia and the Malay World., 17, March (pp. 50–82). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Kassim, A. (2000). Indonesian immigrant settlements in Peninsular Malaya. Soujourn Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 15(1.) (April), 100–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space (D. Nicholson-Smith, Trans.). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  16. Lineton, J.E. (1975). An Indonesian society and its universe: A study of the Bugis of South Sulawesi (Celebes) and their role within a wider social and economic system. (Unpublished PhD Thesis), SOAS, University of London).Google Scholar
  17. Ludden, D. (2003). Presidential address: Maps in the mind and the mobility of Asia. The Journal of Asian Studies, 62(4.), (November), 1057–1078.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McVey, R. (1998). Globalisation, marginalisation, and the study of Southeast Asia. In Southeast Asian Studies: Reorientations. The F. H. Golay Lecture. Ithaca, New York: Southeast Asia Program Publications, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  19. Miyazaki. (2000). Javanese-Malay: Between adaptation and alienation. Soujourn Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia, 15(1.), (April), 76–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Rajah, A. (1999). Southeast Asia: Comparatist errors and the construction of a region. Southeast Asian Journal of Social Science, 27(1), 41–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ras, J. J. (1992). Java and nusantara. In V. J. H. Houben, H. M. J. Maier & W. van der Molen (eds.), Looking in odd mirrors: The Java sea, pp. 146–163. Leiden: SEMAIAN 5.Google Scholar
  22. Reid, A. (1988). Southeast Asia in the age of commerce 1450–1680, Volume one: The lands below the winds. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Reid, A. (2004). Understanding Melayu (Malay) as a source of diverse modern identities. In T. P. Barnard (Ed.), Contesting Malayness: Malay identity across boundaries. Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Sakai, M. (2004). Reviving Malayness: Searching for a new dominant ethnic identity. Inside Indonesia, April–June, pp. 17–18.Google Scholar
  25. Scholte, J. A. (1997). Identifying Indonesia. In M. Hitchcock & V. T. King (Eds.), Images of Malay-Indonesian identity (pp. 21–44). Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Tagliacozzo, E. (2002). Smugggling in Southeast Asia: History and its contemporary vectors in an unbound region. Critical Asian Studies, 34(2), 193–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Tamrin, K. M. (1987). Orang Jawa di Selangor: Penghijrahan dan penempatan 1880–1940. Kuala Lumpur: Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.Google Scholar
  28. Tomizawa, H. (2004). Old and new aspects of Malayness in the contemporary ‘Dunia Melayu’ movement’. Paper presented at the International Conference on Thinking Malayness, organised by ILCAA, TUFS, Fuchu, Tokyo, 19–21 June.Google Scholar
  29. Thung, J.-L., Maunati, Y., & Kedit, P. M. (2004). The (re)-construction of the ‘Pan Dayak’ identity in Kalimantan and Sarawak: A study on minority’s identity, ethnicity and nationality. Jakarta: PMB-LIPI and The Toyota Foundation.Google Scholar
  30. Tirtosudarmo. (2003). In the margin of borderlands: The Florenese community in the ‘Nunukan-Tawau’ areas. Paper presented at the workshop on The Dynamics of Border Societies, at Research Institute of Language and Culture of Asia and Africa. Tokyo University of Foreign Studies, 11–12 December 2003.Google Scholar
  31. van Dijk, C. (1992). Java, Indonesia and Southeast Asia: How important is the Java sea? In V. J. H. Houben, H. M. J. Maier, & W. van der Molen (Eds.), Looking in odd mirrors: The Java sea (pp. 289–302). Leiden: SEMAIAN 5.Google Scholar
  32. Vickers, A. (2004). Malay identity: Modernity, invented tradition and forms of knowledgde. In T. P. Barnard (Ed.), Contesting Malayness: Malay identity across boundaries (pp. 25–55). National University of Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Visser, L. (1988). An Interview with Koentjaraningrat. Current Anthropology, 29(5, December), pp.749–753.Google Scholar
  34. Wadley, R. L. (2000). Transnational circular labour migration in Northwestern Borneo. In Revue Europeene des Migrations Internationales (Vol. 16, pp. 127–149).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Riwanto Tirtosudarmo
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Society and CultureIndonesian Institute of SciencesJakartaIndonesia

Personalised recommendations