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Leaves of the Same TreeTrade and Ethnicity in the Straits of Melaka$
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Leonard Y. Andaya

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831899

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831899.001.0001

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Framing the Southeast Asian Past in Ethnic Terms

Framing the Southeast Asian Past in Ethnic Terms

(p.235) Conclusion Framing the Southeast Asian Past in Ethnic Terms
Leaves of the Same Tree

Leonard Y. Andaya

University of Hawai'i Press

This concluding chapter reviews the role of the Malayu in instigating the ethnicization of other communities. Underlying much of the discussion is the idea of “ethnicization,” which is a conscious political decision by the group to adopt a particular ethnic identity for some perceived advantage. Group consciousness beyond the immediate kinship community and village clusters is often the result of a common perception of greater advantage to be gained by forming larger unities. The chapter argues that the most important motivating factors for this decision are the economic opportunities that arose from international trade flowing through the Straits of Melaka. Being aware of the dynamics of ethnic formation helps one to avoid viewing aspects of the past in terms of “ethnic struggles,” and instead to seek more tangible reasons for difference.

Keywords:   Malayu, ethnicization, ethnic identity, group consciousness, international trade, Straits of Melaka, ethnic formation

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