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Clio/AnthroposExploring the Boundaries between History and Anthropology$
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Eric Tagliacozzo and Andrew Willford

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804760201

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804760201.001.0001

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The Figure of the Tamil in Modern Malaysia

The Figure of the Tamil in Modern Malaysia

(p.223) 8 The Figure of the Tamil in Modern Malaysia

Andrew Willford

Stanford University Press

This chapter outlines the ethnic political divides of colonial to modern labor discourses. It analyzes the Tamils' socioeconomic history, which leads to a discussion of why the Tamils faded away behind other Malaysian ethnic groups, despite being in the middle of an economic expansion. It also discusses the reasons why the Tamils in Malaysia were plagued by internal divisions and why many Tamils express their collective identity and search for individual empowerment through religion. This chapter reveals the empty reality of the ethnic signifier in nationalist ideology and examines the archiving of ethnic stereotypes in Malaysia, which was built on techniques of repetition. The final section of the chapter discusses Tamil Hindu revivalism within the domain of Malaysian nationalism.

Keywords:   labor discourses, Tamil, collective identity, empowerment, ethnic signifier, nationalist ideology, ethnic stereotypes, techniques of repetition, Tamil Hindu revivalism, Malaysian nationalism

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