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(Re)positioning Malaysia: high-tech networks and the multicultural rescripting of national identity

Authors
Journal
Political Geography
0962-6298
Publisher
Elsevier
Publication Date
Volume
21
Issue
1
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/s0962-6298(01)00071-3
Keywords
  • Malaysia
  • National Identity
  • Multicultural
  • Transnationalism
Disciplines
  • Economics
  • Political Science

Abstract

Abstract Transnational processes and imaginings valorise the putative cultural networks, connections and affinities of Malaysia’s ‘non-Malay’ (Indian and Chinese) communities. In this paper, I argue that this signals neither the end of nation building—which naturalised such communal difference in the first place—nor of the nation-state as a social, political and economic actor. Rather, attention is given to discursive practices through which the state seeks to ‘reposition’ Malaysia in/for the ‘networked’ information economy and society. Multicultural ‘rescripting’ of the nation/national identity is thus highlighted as part of broader state strategies to negotiate, facilitate and capitalise upon transnational phenomena. Increasing state emphasis on multiculturalism unsettles Malay-centred constructions of post-colonial national identity. However, the paper cautions against a celebration of the high-profile accorded to multiculturalism in ‘information age’ Malaysia. The Malay ‘special position’ continues and the lowering of ethnic barriers in various domains remains dependent upon domestic political contest. In addition, the socio-economic benefits of less Malay-centred state means of development associated with Malaysia’s ‘k-economy’ push are highly uneven. Non-Malays wooed to the high-tech showcase Multimedia Super Corridor are a highly-skilled professional elite.

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