This introductory chapter identifies Malayu ethnicity as a central theme of discussion. The emergence and expansion of the Malayu resulting from a convergence of economic and political interests triggered the formation of the Minangkabau, the Acehnese, and to a certain extent the Batak ethnic identities. The Malayu were also the stimulus for the formation of the new ethnic categories of Orang Laut (Sea Peoples) and Orang Asli/Suku Terasing (Original Peoples/Isolated Ethnic Groups). The book attempts to capture the dynamism of the process of ethnic formation with each individual group, thus demonstrating the significance in the interpretation of Southeast Asian history. Because the complexity of the subject demands clarification, the chapter introduces three key terms: ethnicity, ethnic group or community, and ethnic category.
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