ETHNIC AND NATIONAL IDENTITIES IN MULTICULTURAL CONTEXTS: Considerations and Challenges

Prof. Saran

Prof. Saran

By Saran Kaur Gill
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Introduction

Transmigration has been a feature of many nations in the past century and is increasingly attaining prominence in the 21st century. This has resulted in many nations having a greater intensity in the multi-ethnic and multicultural landscape of their citizenry. In many of these nations, loyalty to the nation, does not override all other competing loyalties. “Family, tribe, locality, religion, conscience, economic interest, and a host of other appeals may at any given time and place prevail over national allegiance for particular individuals or groups.” (Emerson, 1959: 97) Therefore this raises the main challenge for nations, irrespective of whether they are newly developing or mature – this is the challenge of ensuring political, sociocultural and economic security amongst its citizenry so that “national allegiance takes precedence over all other claims which may be made upon them when they are confronted by alternative choices of allegiance …” (Emerson, 1959: 97) In this paper, it will be the sociocultural security manifest through linguistic cultural identity that will be focused on. From which bases do mutli-ethnic communities operate in terms of their linguistic cultural identity? Is it that of the nation or is it that of their ethnic communities?

 

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