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  • Arrested Multiculturalisms: Race, Capitalism, and State Formation in Malaysia and Singapore

    Daniel P. S. Goh

    Chapter from the book: Ashcroft R. & Bevir M. 2019. Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth: Comparative Perspectives on Theory and Practice.

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    Chapter 10 examines the twin cases of Malaysia and Singapore. Against conventional explanations privileging nationalism, it argues that the key influence in each was state-building related to capitalist development. Due to the racialized character of the economic division of labor inherited from Britain, each side pushed for a political multiracialism that suited its economic approach. This meant the state builders eventually fell out because Singapore looked towards transforming its mercantile economy into an industrial hub, while Malaysia privileged agrarian and natural resource capitalist development. By the 80s and 90s the contradictions of postcolonial racial formation were surfacing in both states, which led to the adoption of new forms of multiculturalism supposedly more suited to an era of globalization. In the era of global financial crises, however, the old multiracialisms remain institutionally dominant over the new forms of multiculturalism, which have been “arrested” by underlying political and economic contradictions.

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    Goh, D. 2019. Arrested Multiculturalisms: Race, Capitalism, and State Formation in Malaysia and Singapore. In: Ashcroft R. & Bevir M, Multiculturalism in the British Commonwealth. California: University of California Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.73.j
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    Published on July 12, 2019

    DOI
    https://doi.org/10.1525/luminos.73.j


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