Egalitarianism and ranking in the Malay world
Date of Issue2009
Meeting of the American Association for Asian Studies (2009 : Chicago, USA)
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Egalitarianism and ranking in the Malay World both derive in large measure from the emergence of certain structural features – relative-age, unifiliative bias, preferential marriage patterns, and so on – all serving to maintain mutually distinctive societal regimes (the Semang, Senoi and Malayic) within the broader regional framework. These emerged mostly indigenously through a series of deliberate mutual adjustments, both assimilatory and dissimilatory, between populations that were each seeking complementary advantages vis-à-vis each other. The paper discusses the mechanisms by which the distinctive societal regimes of the Malay World – variously, segmentary ('tribal') or centralised ('state'), and egalitarian, ranked or stratified – were institutionalised. Special attention is paid to the emergence of ranking, and ultimately the state, within the Malayic tradition.
© 2009 Meeting of the American Association for Asian Studies.