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Identities in Borneo: Constructions and Transformations

  • Victor T. KingEmail author
Chapter
Part of the Asia in Transition book series (AT, volume 4)

Abstract

This chapter focuses on a rapidly expanding field of research in the social sciences in Borneo. There has been a noticeable focus on the multidisciplinary study of identities and ethnicities in Borneo in the last two decades, even though the identification of units for analysis and the labelling of ethnic groups or categories have enjoyed a long history in Borneo Studies. An important stimulus for the more recent increase in scholarly interest was the major conference held in Sarawak in 1988 which explored issues of ethnicity and then the publication by the Sarawak Museum of four volumes of papers in 1989, organised primarily in terms of the major ethnic groups identified in the state (Chin and Kedit in Sarawak Museum Journal 40:xi–xii, 1989). Other key moments in this developing interest included publications by Jérôme Rousseau (Central Borneo: ethnic identity and social life in a stratified society. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1990), Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing (In the realm of the diamond queen: marginality in an out-of-the-way place. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1993) and Bernard Sellato (Nomades et sédentarisation à Bornéo: histoire économique et sociale. Éditions de l’École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris, 1989). A more recent manifestation of this expanding interest is the edited book by Zawawi Ibrahim (Representation, identity and multiculturalism in Sarawak. Persatuan Sains Sosial Malaysia and Kuching: Dayak Cultural Foundation, Kajang, 2008b) and the volume by Peter Metcalf (The life of the longhouse: an archaeology of ethnicity. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2010). This chapter, which attempts an overview and analysis of the field, arranges the contributions (by no means exhaustively) into seven categories: (1) the nation-state, majorities and minorities; (2) religious conversion and identities; (3) the media, identities and nation-building; (4) borderlands, margins, migrations and identities; (5) interethnic relations and violence; (6) arenas for identity construction in tourism and museums; and finally (7) emerging middle classes, lifestyles and identities in urban settings.

Keywords

Borneo Studies Social science Identity Ethnicity Nation-state 

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© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of LeedsLeedsUK

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