Taylor's FSLM Journals
Beyond Arbitrary Labels: Understanding Ethnic Identity Development among Chindians

@ SEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research

Online ISSN: 2672-7080

*Rona Chandran & Mohd Yahya Mohammed Ariffin


Malaysia is home to many different ethnic groups. The historical past of the nation has greatly contributed to its multiethnic status today. The National Constitution and the National Principles of Malaysia has assured every citizen the right to religious and cultural freedom, allowing the nation to flourish as a multiethnic state that propagates unity within diversity. The social fabric of the nation and the widening of contact zones has allowed for the occurrence of miscegenation and the existence of biethnic individuals. Sino-Indians or commonly known as Chindians are biethnic individuals who form part of the social composition of the Malaysian population. Based on the constructionist theory of Ethnic Identity Development by Cornell and Hartmann (1998), this paper advocates that ethnic identity is a result of interfaces between cultural and social factors, making it a dynamic developmental process and therefore, should not be reduced to arbitrary labels attached to a person. However, the Malaysian National Birth Registration Policy dictates that Malaysians should neatly fit into the predefined single ethnic categories that has existed for the past 58 years.

Keywords: Sino-Indians, Chindians, biethnic, ethnic identity, culture, social