Sidesplitter: How to be from Two Worlds at Once

Posted in Asian Diaspora, Autobiography, Biography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2021-10-11 18:21Z by Steven

Sidesplitter: How to be from Two Worlds at Once

Hodder & Stoughton
2021-09-16
304 pages
Hardcover ISBN-13: 9781529350272
eBook ISBN-13: 9781529350296
Audiobook ISBN-13: 9781529350302

Phil Wang

One of the UK’s brightest and best comedians takes an incisive look at race and belonging.

‘But where are you really from?’

Phil Wang has been asked this question so many times he’s finally written a book about it.

In this mix of comic memoir and observational essay, one of the UK’s most exciting stand-up comedians reflects on his experiences as a Eurasian man in the West and in the East. Phil was born in Stoke-on-Trent, raised in Malaysia, and then came of age in Bath – ‘a spa town for people who find Cheltenham too ethnic’.

Phil takes an incisive look at what it means to be mixed race, as he explores the contrasts between cultures and delves into Britain and Malaysia’s shared histories, bringing his trademark cynicism and wit to topics ranging from family, food, and comedy to race, empire, and colonialism.

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The Palgrave International Handbook of Mixed Racial and Ethnic Classification

Posted in Africa, Anthologies, Asian Diaspora, Books, Brazil, Canada, Caribbean/Latin America, Census/Demographics, Europe, History, Media Archive, Mexico, Oceania, Social Science, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States on 2020-01-31 02:28Z by Steven

The Palgrave International Handbook of Mixed Racial and Ethnic Classification

Palgrave Macmillan
2020-01-21
817 pages
16 b/w illustrations, 17 illustrations in colour
Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-22873-6
eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-22874-3
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-22874-3

Edited by:

Zarine L. Rocha, Managing Editor
Current Sociology and Asian Journal of Social Science

Peter J. Aspinall, Emeritus Reader in Population Health
University of Kent, United Kingdom

Highlights

  • Shows how classification and collection processes around mixedness differ between countries and how measurement has been changing over time
  • Provides a window into the radical global changes in the trend towards multiple racial/ethnic self-identification that has been a feature of the recent past
  • The first and only handbook to directly address the classification of mixed race/ethnicity on a global scale
  • Pays specific attention to both the standard classifications and the range of uses these are put to – including social surveys and administrative data – rather than just census forms and data

This handbook provides a global study of the classification of mixed race and ethnicity at the state level, bringing together a diverse range of country case studies from around the world.

The classification of race and ethnicity by the state is a common way to organize and make sense of populations in many countries, from the national census and birth and death records, to identity cards and household surveys. As populations have grown, diversified, and become increasingly transnational and mobile, single and mutually exclusive categories struggle to adequately capture the complexity of identities and heritages in multicultural societies. State motivations for classification vary widely, and have shifted over time, ranging from subjugation and exclusion to remediation and addressing inequalities. The chapters in this handbook illustrate how differing histories and contemporary realities have led states to count and classify mixedness in different ways, for different reasons.

This collection will serve as a key reference point on the international classification of mixed race and ethnicity for students and scholars across sociology, ethnic and racial studies, and public policy, as well as policy makers and practitioners.

Table of Contents

  • Front Matter
  • Introduction: Measuring Mixedness Around the World / Zarine L. Rocha, Peter J. Aspinall
  • Race and Ethnicity Classification in British Colonial and Early Commonwealth Censuses / Anthony J. Christopher
  • The Americas
    • Front Matter
    • Introduction: North and South America / Peter J. Aspinall, Zarine L. Rocha
    • The Canadian Census and Mixed Race: Tracking Mixed Race Through Ancestry, Visible Minority Status, and Métis Population Groups in Canada / Danielle Kwan-Lafond, Shannon Winterstein
    • Methods of Measuring Multiracial Americans / Melissa R. Herman
    • Mixed Race in Brazil: Classification, Quantification, and Identification / G. Reginald Daniel, Rafael J. Hernández
    • Mexico: Creating Mixed Ethnicity Citizens for the Mestizo Nation / Pablo Mateos
    • Boundless Heterogeneity: ‘Callaloo’ Complexity and the Measurement of Mixedness in Trinidad and Tobago / Sue Ann Barratt
    • Mixed race in Argentina: Concealing Mixture in the ‘White’ Nation / Lea Natalia Geler, Mariela Eva Rodríguez
    • Colombia: The Meaning and Measuring of Mixedness / Peter Wade
  • Europe and the UK
    • Front Matter
    • Introduction: Europe and the United Kingdom / Peter J. Aspinall, Zarine L. Rocha
    • The Path to Official Recognition of ‘Mixedness’ in the United Kingdom / Peter J. Aspinall
    • Measuring Mixedness in Ireland: Constructing Sameness and Difference / Elaine Moriarty
    • The Identification of Mixed People in France: National Myth and Recognition of Family Migration Paths / Anne Unterreiner
    • Controversial Approaches to Measuring Mixed-Race in Belgium: The (In)Visibility of the Mixed-Race Population / Laura Odasso
    • The Weight of German History: Racial Blindness and Identification of People with a Migration Background / Anne Unterreiner
    • Mixed, Merged, and Split Ethnic Identities in the Russian Federation / Sergei V. Sokolovskiy
    • Mixedness as a Non-Existent Category in Slovenia / Mateja Sedmak
    • Mixed Identities in Italy: A Country in Denial / Angelica Pesarini, Guido Tintori
    • (Not) Measuring Mixedness in the Netherlands / Guno Jones, Betty de Hart
    • Mixed Race and Ethnicity in Sweden: A Sociological Analysis / Ioanna Blasko, Nikolay Zakharov
  • Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia and the Caucasus
    • Front Matter
    • Introduction: Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia and the Caucasus / Zarine L. Rocha, Peter J. Aspinall
    • The Classification of South Africa’s Mixed-Heritage Peoples 1910–2011: A Century of Conflation, Contradiction, Containment, and Contention / George T. H. Ellison, Thea de Wet
    • The Immeasurability of Racial and Mixed Identity in Mauritius / Rosabelle Boswell
    • Neither/Nor: The Complex Attachments of Zimbabwe’s Coloureds / Kelly M. Nims
    • Measuring Mixedness in Zambia: Creating and Erasing Coloureds in Zambia’s Colonial and Post-colonial Census, 1921 to 2010 / Juliette Milner-Thornton
    • Racial and Ethnic Mobilization and Classification in Kenya / Babere Kerata Chacha, Wanjiku Chiuri, Kenneth O. Nyangena
    • Making the Invisible Visible: Experiences of Mixedness for Binational People in Morocco / Gwendolyn Gilliéron
    • Measuring Mixedness: A Case Study of the Kyrgyz Republic / Asel Myrzabekova
  • Asia and the Pacific
    • Front Matter
    • Introduction: The Asia Pacific Region / Zarine L. Rocha, Peter J. Aspinall
    • Where You Feel You Belong: Classifying Ethnicity and Mixedness in New Zealand / Robert Didham, Zarine L. Rocha
    • Measuring Mixedness in Australia / Farida Fozdar, Catriona Stevens
    • Measuring Race, Mixed Race, and Multiracialism in Singapore / Zarine L. Rocha, Brenda S. A. Yeoh
    • Multiracial in Malaysia: Categories, Classification, and Campur in Contemporary Everyday Life / Geetha Reddy, Hema Preya Selvanathan
    • Anglo-Indians in Colonial India: Historical Demography, Categorization, and Identity / Uther Charlton-Stevens
    • Mixed Racial and Ethnic Classification in the Philippines / Megumi HaraJocelyn O. Celero
    • Vaevaeina o le toloa (Counting the Toloa): Counting Mixed Ethnicity in the Pacific, 1975–2014 / Patrick Broman, Polly Atatoa Carr, Byron Malaela Sotiata Seiuli
    • Measuring Mixed Race: ‘We the Half-Castes of Papua and New Guinea’ / Kirsten McGavin
    • Measuring Mixedness in China: A Study in Four Parts / Cathryn H. Clayton
    • Belonging Across Religion, Race, and Nation in Burma-Myanmar / Chie Ikeya
    • Recognition of Multiracial and Multiethnic Japanese: Historical Trends, Classification, and Ways Forward / Sayaka Osanami Törngren, Hyoue Okamura
  • Back Matter
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Fluidity amidst structure: multi-racial identity constructions across the life course of Malaysians and Singaporeans

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2018-10-09 03:37Z by Steven

Fluidity amidst structure: multi-racial identity constructions across the life course of Malaysians and Singaporeans

Social Identities: Journal for the Study of Race, Nation and Culture
Published online: 2018-07-18
18 pages
DOI: 10.1080/13504630.2018.1499222

Geetha Reddy
Department of Sociology
University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands

Multi-racial identity construction is understood to be fluid, contextual and dynamic. Yet the dynamics of multi-racial identity construction when racial identities are ascribed and formulated as static by governments is less explored in psychological studies of race. This paper examines the dynamics of racial identity construction among multi-racial Malaysians and Singaporeans in a qualitative study of 31 semi-structured interviews. Thematic analysis was used to identify the different private racial identity constructions of participants who were officially ascribed with single racial identities at birth. Participants reflected on the overwhelming influence of the state and significant Others in limiting their ability to express their multiple racial identities when they were in school, and highlighted their capacity to be agentic in their private racial identity constructions when they were older. This paper shows that across the life course multi-racial individuals possess (1) the ability to adopt different racial identity positions at different times, (2) the ability to hold multiple racial identity constructions at the same time when encounters with Others are dialogical, (3) the reflexivity of past identity positions in the present construction of identities.

Read the entire article here.

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Mixed Race in Asia: Past, Present and Future

Posted in Anthologies, Anthropology, Asian Diaspora, Books, History, Media Archive, Oceania, Social Science on 2017-07-21 18:58Z by Steven

Mixed Race in Asia: Past, Present and Future

Routledge
2017-06-15
250 pages
1 B/W Illus.
Hardback ISBN: 9781138282674
eBook ISBN: 9781315270579

Edited by:

Zarine L. Rocha, Managing Editor
Current Sociology and the Asian Journal of Social Science

Farida Fozdar, Associate Professor in Anthropology and Sociology
University of Western Australia

Mixed racial and ethnic identities are topics of increasing interest around the world, yet studies of mixed race in Asia are rare, despite its particular salience for Asian societies.

Mixed Race in Asia seeks to reorient the field to focus on Asia, looking specifically at mixed race in China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam and India. Through these varied case studies, this collection presents an insightful exploration of race, ethnicity, mixedness and belonging, both in the past and present. The thematic range of the chapters is broad, covering the complexity of lived mixed race experiences, the structural forces of particular colonial and post-colonial environments and political regimes, and historical influences on contemporary identities and cultural expressions of mixedness.

Adding significant richness and depth to existing theoretical frameworks, this enlightening volume develops markedly different understandings of, and recognizes nuances around, what it means to be mixed, practically, theoretically, linguistically and historically. It will appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as postdoctoral and other researchers interested in fields such as Race and Ethnicity, Sociology and Asian Studies.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction: Mixed Race in Asia / Zarine L. Rocha and Farida Fozdar
  • Section One: China and Vietnam
    • Chapter One: “A Class by Themselves”: Battles over Eurasian Schooling in Late-19th-Century Shanghai / Emma J. Teng
    • Chapter Two: Mixing Blood and Race: Representing Hunxue in Contemporary China / Cathryn Clayton
    • Chapter Three: Métis of Vietnam: An Historical Perspective on Mixed-Race Children from the French Colonial Period / Christina Firpo
  • Section Two: South Korea and Japan
    • Chapter Four: Developing bilingualism in a largely monolingual society: Southeast Asian marriage migrants and multicultural families in South Korea / Mi Yung Park
    • Chapter Five: Haafu Identity in Japan: half, mixed or double? / Alexandra Shaitan and Lisa J. McEntee-Atalianis
    • Chapter Six: Claiming Japaneseness: recognition, privilege and status in Japanese-Filipino ‘mixed’ ethnic identity constructions / Fiona-Katharina Seiger
  • Section Three: Malaysia and Singapore
    • Chapter Seven: Being “Mixed” in Malaysia: Perspectives on Ethnic Diversity / Caryn Lim
    • Chapter Eight: Chinese, Indians and the Grey Space in between: Acceptance of Malaysian Chindians in a plural society / Rona Chandran
    • Chapter Nine: ‘Our Chinese’: The Mixedness of Peranakan Chinese Identities in Kelantan, Malaysia / Pue Giok Hun
    • Chapter Ten: Eurasian as Multiracial: mixed race, gendered categories and identity in Singapore / Zarine L. Rocha
  • Section Four: India and Indonesia
    • Chapter Eleven: Is the Anglo-Indian ‘Identity Crisis’ a Myth? / Robyn Andrews
    • Chapter Twelve: When Hybridity Encounters Hindu Purity Fetish: Anglo-Indian Lived Experiences in an Indian Railway Town / Anjali Gera Roy
    • Chapter Thirteen: Sometimes white, sometimes Asian: Boundary-making among transnational mixed descent youth at an international school in Indonesia / Danau Tanu
    • Chapter Fourteen: Class, Race and Being Indo (Eurasian) in Colonial and Postcolonial Indonesia / Ros Hewett
  • Afterword / Paul Spickard
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Communication Accommodation Strategies in Malaysian Multiracial Family Interactions

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Family/Parenting, Media Archive, Social Science on 2014-04-29 02:31Z by Steven

Communication Accommodation Strategies in Malaysian Multiracial Family Interactions

Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences
Volume 118 (2014-03-19)
pages 259–264
DOI: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.02.035

International Conference on Knowledge-Innovation-Excellence: Synergy in Language Research and Practice (2013)
Organized by School of Language Studies and Linguistics, Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia)

Mahanita Mahadhir
School of Language Studies & Linguistics Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Nor Fariza Mohd Nor
School of Language Studies & Linguistics Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Hazita Azman
School of Language Studies & Linguistics Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

In multiracial families, intergroup salience is an important parameter influencing their daily interpersonal communication dynamics; this is due to the relevance of issues related to heritage loyalty and sense of belonging. As such, there is an obvious need for multiracials to appropriately strategise and manage their communication with both paternal and maternal family members. Using the Communication Accommodation Theory, this preliminary study investigates the range of accommodation strategies employed by a multiracial individual interacting with her monoracial mother. Qualitative in nature, data was obtained from spontaneous interactions that were audio-taped over a period of eight weeks in the home setting. Out of the 12 total hours of transcribed interactions, seven episodes were deemed to contain features of intergroup context. Despite the limited number of interaction samples, findings revealed that the multiracial daughter managed her family relations by employing approximation, interpretability, discourse management and interpersonal control strategies.

Read the entire article here.

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Bung Mokhtar: Mixed-race Malaysians will benefit from racial voting

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Oceania, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-04-01 21:59Z by Steven

Bung Mokhtar: Mixed-race Malaysians will benefit from racial voting

Malay Mail Online
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
2014-04-01

Zurairi AR

UALA LUMPUR, Apr 1 — Malaysians with mixed-race parentage will benefit the most from voting along racial lines as they will have more than one representative, Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin said today.

The Barisan Nasional (BN) MP also claimed that the system suggested by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim yesterday will ensure justice for every ethnic group in Malaysia.

“For those who may have two or three ancestries, they can choose which one they prefer… They can be in both worlds,” Bung said in Parliament here.

“For me that is really good. At least, for me who has both Sungai and Malay ancestries, I can then get two or three representatives. Now, I can only get one.”

Sungai is the name of one of the many official tribes in Sabah.

Bung also refuted claims that Shahidan’s remarks is alike the now-abolished apartheid regime in South Africa, in which people voted for representatives from their own ethnic communities…

Read the entire article here.

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Malaysians of mixed parentage back deleting ‘race’ in official paperwork

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Census/Demographics, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy on 2014-02-26 16:47Z by Steven

Malaysians of mixed parentage back deleting ‘race’ in official paperwork

The Malay Mail Online
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
2014-02-24

Ushar Daniele

PETALING JAYA, Feb 24 — The proposal to remove the race column in all paperwork in the country has been received positively.

he Malay Mail yesterday spoke to people on the street and with one voice, they agreed with the suggestion made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Joseph Kurup after the National Unity Consultative Council’s meeting.

Engineer Shawn Sreedharan, 25, who is a mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian, said he had to ask his father whenever he had to fill in his race in a form.

“My father tells me to choose whichever I want but what defines my race is that I am a product of my father, so I would like to follow my father’s bloodline.

“Socially, I can be seen as Malay or Chinese but both works for me as ticking a box on a piece of paper does not define who I am.”…

Read the entire article here.

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The Effect of Parents’ Ethnic Socialization Practices on Ethnic Identity, Self-Esteem and Psychological Adjustment of Multi Ethnic Children in Malaysia

Posted in Articles, Identity Development/Psychology, Media Archive, Oceania on 2013-01-28 02:22Z by Steven

The Effect of Parents’ Ethnic Socialization Practices on Ethnic Identity, Self-Esteem and Psychological Adjustment of Multi Ethnic Children in Malaysia

World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology
Issue 72 (December 2012)
pages 807-810

Chua Bee Seok

Rosnah Ismail

Jasmine Adela Mutang

Shaziah Iqbal

Nur Farhana Ardillah Aftar

Alfred Chan Huan Zhi

Ferlis Bin Bahari

Lailawati Madlan

Hon Kai Yee

The present study aims to explore the role of parents’ ethnic socialization practices contributes to the ethnic identity development, self-esteem and psychological adjustment of multi ethnic children in Sabah, Malaysia. A total of 342 multi ethnic children (age range = 10 years old to 14 years old; mean age = 12.65 years, SD = 0.88) and their parents participated in the present study. The modified version of Multi group Ethnic Identity Measure (MEIM), The Familial Ethnic Socialization Measure (FESM). The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSE) and Behavioral and Emotional Rating Scale Edition 2 (BERS-2) were used in this study. The results showed that: i) parents’ ethnic socialization practice was a strong predictor of ethnic identity development of multi ethnic children; ii) parents’ ethnic socialization practice also was a significant predictor of self-esteem of multi ethnic children; iii) parents’ ethnic socialization practice was not a significant predictor of psychological adjustment of multi ethnic children. The results of this study showed the implications parents’ ethnic socialization practices and ethnic identity development in successful multi ethnic families.

Read the entire article here.

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Eurasians: Celebrating Survival

Posted in Anthropology, Articles, Asian Diaspora, History, Media Archive on 2012-08-29 04:31Z by Steven

Eurasians: Celebrating Survival

Journal of Intercultural Studies
Volume 28, Issue 1 (2007)
DOI: 10.1080/07256860601082988
pages 129-141

Christine Choo
University of Western Australia

The search for my Asian ancestors and my discoveries in archives, the crumbling pages, the eroding ink, the disappearance of the word, are a metaphor for the simultaneous emergence of the will to recover memories and the slow fading away of the material traces of memory. Eurasians of Malaysia and Singapore once epitomised the blurring of boundaries between cultures and societies in colonial and immediate post-colonial periods. In exploring their cultural and social heritage in the archives and by networking with the Eurasian diaspora on the internet, individuals shape and reaffirm their identities on new and old frontiers. This paper presents Eurasians and their experiences as transcultural or in the middle ground – the space where new ways of being are developed and lived in a cross-cultural environment. It explores how the definition of Eurasian is changing in the context of contemporary globalised society.

Who is Eurasian?

This essay is a personal reflection on the position of Eurasians as “in-betweeners” and the changes experienced by the Eurasian communities of Malaysia from historically, geographically and socially grounded minority communities to imagined communities of a diaspora with families linked by the internet. Paradoxically, in the expanded globalised context of our contemporary world where cross-cultural intermarriage or partnering is common, historic Eurasian communities like those in Malaysia are fading away through intermarriage and migration. Many Eurasian extended families connect and discover their common heritage and family links through the internet. In another reality, unrelated individuals across the world with Asian-European heritage rely on the imagined communities created by the internet to help them gain a sense of identity and community…

Read or purchase the article here.

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Racial Realities: Social Constructs and the Stuff of Which They Are Made

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2011-11-25 21:33Z by Steven

Racial Realities: Social Constructs and the Stuff of Which They Are Made

Global Dialogue
Volume 12, Number 2 (Summer/Autumn 2010)—Race and Racisms

Eric C. Thompson, Associate Professor of Sociology
National University of Singapore

How can we deny the reality of race? It is a truth so many hold to be self-evident. Travel around the world, from Asia to Africa to Europe to South America: people look different in different places. Travel about in major global cities—Singapore, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, London—and physical diversity is close at hand. It would seem absurd to argue that the visible differences so apparent to our sight are socially constructed. Physiological differences—skin tone, eye shape, hair texture and the like—are not the outcome of our human imagination. The material reality of physiological differences grounds racial categorising. It is used as a point of reference and point of realisation to assert rhetorically the undeniable truth of any given scheme of racial categorisation.
 
The purpose of this article is to emphasise the error of such assertions. I aim also to point out the weakness of arguments for the “social construction” of race, which too often undermine their own case by denying the material reality of visible difference. I outline instead a way to incorporate the material reality of biological difference into an understanding of race as a social construct. My argument is simply this: biological difference is the material out of which our concepts of race are fashioned. These concepts are as many and varied as the diverse cultures of human societies around the world. In the case of race and other identities—such as ethnicity, gender and class—our social constructs are not fashioned out of thin air but out of material conditions. This said, the material conditions do not determine what we make of them—what we construct socially—any more than wood determines the myriad things a woodworker or craftsman might make out of a piece of timber.
 
In the first section of this article, I want to emphasise the socially constructed nature of “race”, “ethnicity” and similar concepts. The idea that race is a sensible way to talk about the material reality of biologically inherited diversity continues to reappear in new forms despite our best efforts to teach students and colleagues about its socially constructed nature. The attempt to depoliticise such concepts, to make them function as objective categories in the service of science or medicine, is a fraught undertaking. Race and ethnicity are deeply political categories, as many investigations into the historical circumstances of their social construction demonstrate. I will discuss this history in general ways in the case of the United States and in some greater detail in the internationally less well-known case of Malaysia, with the development of the concepts of bangsa in Malay and minzu in Chinese, which map varyingly and imperfectly onto the English terms “nation”, “race” and “ethnic group”. The imperfection of translation across Malay, Chinese and English itself demonstrates the tenuous relationship between these signifiers of types of peoples and the various extra-linguistic referents—of biology and culture—through which attempts are made to ground and reify such concepts as “race” and “ethnicity”.
 
But I also wish to move beyond this by now well-worn understanding of the social construction of “race”, “ethnicity” and similar concepts. The problem with social constructionist arguments, usually raised to try to dismiss racial, ethnic and other identities as ephemeral, is that they generally have no answer to the naive—though by no means foolish—realist reference to the difference and diversity of physical features, thought and behaviour which seem so true and apparent. There are people who look different from one another in patterns we map onto “racial” difference and who act differently in ways we attribute to cultural or ethnic difference. In response, I want to provide a means by which to take this sensible reality (i.e., a reality apparent to our senses) into account, to bring it into our understanding of the social construction of race, ethnicity and the like, while still maintaining the argument that biology and culture by no means determine such categories. Rather, biology and culture merely provide the raw materials from which we socially construct ideas of difference and community. As with raw materials out of which we fashion buildings or clothing, the materials we rely on have some bearing on the structures we build or the fashions we weave out of them, but they do not determine the form of the final products, let alone the uses to which we put them…

…Compare this to the United States. Barack Obama is widely considered to be America’s first “black” president. The default categorisation of racial identity in America, with Obama and others, is to classify individuals of “mixed” white and minority parentage as belonging to the minority category. In Singapore, by contrast, racial classification is a patrilineal inheritance: at birth, a child’s race is recorded as being that of the father. In the United States, President Obama is considered black or African American primarily on a biological, not a cultural, basis. But while physical appearance derived from biological inheritance may be the main touchstone of race in America, and cultural traits may be the main standard for race (or ethnicity) in Malaysia, in both countries these two race signifiers are also greatly conflated and combined. Obama, for instance, has been scrutinised for his language, mannerisms, sports preferences and, most prominently and perversely, his religious affiliations, all as a measure of how “black” or how “American” he is. Similarly, in Malaysia, although “Malay”, “Chinese” and other racial categories are associated more strongly with cultural traits, including language and religion, than with biological traits, the latter are frequently invoked when it suits a particular cause. For example, the former long-serving prime minister, Mahathir Mohamad, known as a vocal proponent of the Malay community and head of the politically dominant United Malay National Organisation, was nevertheless alleged by some political opponents to be of paternal Indian biological lineage and therefore not to be a “real Malay”…

Read the entire article here.

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