Saturday, December 30, 2006


Other Malays by Joel S. Kahn (RM 85.50)

This new reading of constructions of ethnicity in Malaysia and Singapore is an important contribution to understanding the powerful linkages between ethnicity, religious reforms, identity and nationalism in multi-ethnic Southeast Asia.

The narrative of Malay identity devised by Malay nationals, writers and filmmakers in the late colonial period associated Malayness with the village or kampung, envisaged as static, ethnically homogenous, classless, indigenous, subsistence-oriented, rural, embedded in family and community, and loyal to a royal court. Joel Kahn challenges the kampung version of Malayness, arguing that it ignores the immigration of Malays from outside the peninsula to participate in trade and commercial agriculture, the substantial Malay population in towns and cities, and the reformist Muslims who argued for a common bond in Islam. Owing to a rising dissatisfaction with the established order and new modernist sensitivities, especially among
younger generation, the author argues that it is time to revisit the alternative, more cosmopolitan narrative of Malayness.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


The Encyclopedia of Malaysia,Volume 12: Peoples and Traditions edited by Prof Dato Dr Hood Salleh (RM 95.00) Malaysia is home to scores of ethnic groups. Each community, itself a complex of ethnic sub-groups, is distinguished by its cultural, religious and artistic traditions and customs, which are often centuries old. The resulting ethnic diversity has produced a complex, heterogeneous nation of communities united by shared values, expressed through the acceptance of each other's tradition.

Traditional forms of cultural expression, especially in visual and performing arts, provide evidence of importation and borrowing from South Asia, the Middle and Near East, and the West, while others reflect cross-cultural exchanges and inter-ethnic mergers.

This volume covers all the peoples of Malaysia and their most significant traditions. It commences with a look at the migratory and demographic patterns of the population from ancient times and the genesis of a multiethnic society, and provides insights into the various ethnic groups in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak, and their distinct cultural and social identities. It discusses their traditional habitat, culture, customs, costumes, languages, cuisines and economic pursuits, and highlights efforts made by the communities to preserve their heritage in the face of modernization and globalization.

This volume also discusses the cultural fusion that underscores the multiculturalism of Malaysia - the result of assimilation, integration and accommodation - and how this has fostered a unique national heritage: a melting pot of ethnicities, cultures and traditions.