Imagined Multiculturalism in a Malaysian Town: Ideological Constructions and Empirical Evidences

  • Christian Giordano


Penang in Malaysia and the city-state of Singapore ought to be considered emblematic of the UK’s colonial legacy of planned immigration for economic reasons, involving Southern and Southeast Asia. After independence, he notes, a compromise between different ethnocultural components was achieved by discarding the European-like political model of national state and adopting a model in which both the autochthonous population and the immigrants are regarded as members of a consociation characterized by power sharing and by a differentiated citizenship. Giordano’s ethnography shows that in a situation marked by highly conspicuous ethnocultural differences, power sharing and a policy of unity in separation stemming from the political principle of differentiated citizenship have generated forms of social cohesion characterized by constant tensions and, at times, open conflict, but also by social practices of respect towards cultural diversity.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Giordano
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences – AnthropologyUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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