Ethnic Orders: Social Categories and the Politics of Identity in the Malay World

October 25, 2024 | 2:00PM - 4:00PM
Asian Institute
Room 208N, North House, 1 Devonshire Place, Toronto, ON, M5S 3K7
Ethnicity is central to politics throughout the Malay world, but the meaning and significance of ethnicity—and of social categories like “Malay”—is contested, dynamic, and multifaceted. This talk is an overview of an ongoing book project, tentatively entitled Ethnic Orders, which adopts a comparative and historical perspective on Malayness as a social category. Drawing insights from the fields such as philosophy, history, and linguistic anthropology, and focusing closely on the politics of social status, Ethnic Orders introduces a "conventional theory of ethnicity" that makes sense of the diverse meanings and experiences of Malayness in Southeast Asia over the past 500 years. By thinking carefully about ethnicity in the Malay world, the talk introduces a fresh perspective on status and social categories that readily applies to contemporary debates about identity around the world.
Thomas Pepinsky is the Walter F. LaFeber Professor of Government and Public Policy at Cornell University, and Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. His research focuses issues of political economy, identity, and democracy, past and present, with a special focus on maritime Southeast Asia.
Sponsor: Asian Institute
Asian Institute
Asian Institute


Thomas Pepinsky

Walter F. LaFeber Professor of Government and Director of the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University
Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brooking Institution