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Conceptualizing Social Diversity and Its Challenges: the Malaysian Experience as a Mirror (Shamsul A. B.)

31/05/2016, 18:00


“Conceptualizing Social Diversity and Its Challenges: the Malaysian Experience as a Mirror”
Shamsul A. B. (Institute of Ethnic Studies-KITA, The National University of Malaysia-UKM)

31 de maio, 18h
Sala C402, Ed. II, ISCTE-IUL


‘Unity in Diversity’ has become a cliché globally, especially after massive migration flows from the 1980s to the early 21st century, as a result of globalization, and, recently, from the troubled Middle East to Europe. It is still on-going and Europe has its hands full, as it were. Empirically, discourse of ‘unity in diversity’ highlights the negative aspect of social diversity. Analytically, there are at least two other characteristics of social diversity, namely, the positive and the moderate one. Yet they are never discussed to provide us a more balanced sociological analysis on the subject matter. In Malaysia, with its attempt to construct a ‘Blueprint for National Unity’ since 2013, the notion of diversity has been re-examined conceptually and empirically; it is being redefined, and other concepts have been introduced to replace it, such as ‘social cohesion’ and ‘social reconciliation’. The seminar intends to elaborate on this experience and the relevant conceptual imaginations introduced in that process.


Shamsul A.B. (Shamsul Amri Baharuddin) is one of the only four Distinguished Professors in Malaysia to-date. Currently, he is the Founding Director, Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA), The National University of Malaysia (UKM) Bangi, Selangor. He has researched, written and lectured extensively, in the last 30 years, on the theme “politics, culture and economic development,” with an empirical focus on Malaysia and Southeast Asia. His award-winning monograph From British to Bumiputera Rule (1986, reprinted 1990, 2nd edition 2004) is a study on the phenomenology of class and ethnic relations in a Malaysian rural community. His academic activism takes many forms: conferences and lecture tours in Asia, Europe, North & South America, & Oceania; public policy formulation in Malaysian higher education; museum re-conceptualization projects; and as a political analyst on Malaysian current affairs in local and international media (Channel News Asia, National Geographic Channel, Al-Jazeera, ABC Melbourne and BBC London). In 2008, he was awarded the prestigious ACADEMIC PRIZE 2008, of the Fukuoka Asian Cultural Prize, Japan. For more on him and his publications, please see his website.



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