“Others” (Lain-lain): Falling Between Racial Categories in Contemporary Malaysia
This thesis examines racial ontologies in Malaysia, particularly as they are reflected and shaped by the census and other forms of administrative documentation. By tracking the evolution over time of institutionally-operating racial categories, as well as focusing on their current iterations, this thesis examines how individuals assumed to fall under (and between) particular labels talk about their experiences of racial categorization, and how they conceptualize their own identity within a racialized society. This project utilizes data from thirty semi-structured interviews from a group of participants obtained through snowball sampling, and though focused on the Malaysian context, employs insights from broader scholarship on semiotic anthropology, Southeast Asian studies, as well as race and racialization. Throughout this thesis, I endeavor to explore the everyday assumptions about racial kindedness that individuals make propositionally explicit through discourse about race in contemporary Malaysia.