Reconstructing Multiculturalism in Malaysia through Visual Culture
AbstractThe terms ‘ethnicity’ and ‘race’ bear social and political importance in a multicultural society. Introduced in Malaysia by the British back in the colonial era, these terms have been influencing the politics of the state and everyday life of the grassroots. Since the early days of independence, Malaysia has been witnessing ethnic conflict and right from the very beginning of making a new Malaysia, the Malaysian governments have introduced concepts and plans to eradicate the ethnic conflict but it has not been very successful although the country boasts of its racial stability. Multiculturalism in Malaysia still remains an ambivalent nationalist project. In fact, the road to a collective national identity through multiculturalism is paradoxical. This paper examines how visual culture can help reconstruct a multicultural society and argues that Malaysia’s plan in creating a national identity will remain a myth as long as one ethnicity and its values are more important than other ethnicities. It also investigates whether a collective identity is really needed for a multicultural country such as Malaysia.
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