Getting By: Class and State Formation among Chinese in Malaysia
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Author: Donald M. Nonini
Paperback, 348 pages
Subjects: Malaysia, Ethnic Studies
First Published: 2015 (by Cornell University Press)
“Exceptional scholarship! In Getting By Donald M. Nonini offers an insightful critique of three long-standing theoretical perspectives on the links between class and ethnicity involving the Chinese and then proposes the necessity of adopting a historical ethnographic view focusing on the issues of position and structure.”
—EDMUND TERENCE GOMEZ, University of Malaya, coauthor of Malaysia’s Political Economy: Politics, Patronage, and Profits
“‘Getting By’ illuminates in arresting detail what it means to be working-class ethnic Chinese in Malaysia where racial discrimination molds everyday existence. Donald M. Nonini’s deep ethnography of ethnic Chinese under siege tracks their daily practices of surviving as a subjugated ethnic and class minority. The political, economic, social, and cultural costs of living under majority rule inspire an art of deception and disputation, as well as backup plans to leave a beloved multiethnic homeland. This rare ethnographic history of the Malaysian present is a path-breaking intervention in Chinese diaspora studies. It casts a necessary light on how ordinary ethnic Chinese, often vulnerable to racial discrimination, are the urban backbone of Southeast Asia.”
—AIHWA ONG, University of California, Berkeley, coeditor of Privatizing China, Asian Biotech, and Worlding Cities
How do class, ethnicity, gender, and politics interact? In what ways do they constitute everyday life among ethnic minorities? In Getting By, Donald M. Nonini draws on three decades of research in the region of Penang state in northern West Malaysia, mainly in the city of Bukit Mertajam, to provide an ethnographic and historical account of the cultural politics of class conflict and state formation among Malaysians of Chinese descent.
DONALD M. NONINI is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of British Colonial Rule and the Resistance of the Malay Peasantry, 1900–1957, coauthor of Local Democracy under Siege: Activism, Public Interests, and Private Politics, and editor most recently of A Companion to Urban Anthropology.