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SEARCH 7 (1) 2015


Women’s Roles and Participation in Rituals in the Maintenance of Cultural Identity: A Study of the Malaysian Iyers
Lokasundari Vijaya Sankar

Abstract:

This paper examines the roles and rituals practiced by Malaysian Iyer women. The Iyers are a small community of Tamil Brahmins who live and work mainly in the Klang Valley. As an Indian diasporic community, who moved to Malaysia from the early 1900s, they have been slowly shifting from Tamil to English and Malay. They are upwardly mobile and place great emphasis on education but at the same time, value their traditions and culture. Data was derived from interactions between women and men from the Malaysian Iyer community together with personal observations made during visits to their homes, weddings and prayer sessions. This data was studied to obtain insights into cultural elements that ruled their discourse. The findings show that for this diasporic community that was slowly losing its language, ethnic identity can still be found in their cultural practices. Women were seen as keepers of tradition and customs that are important to the community. They followed certain cultural and traditional practices in their homes: practiced vegetarianism while cooking and serving food in their homes, followed taboos regarding food preparation, maintained patriarchal practices especially in religious practices and lived in extended families which usually included paternal grandparents. Malaysian Iyer women are seen to continue with the traditional roles given to women of the community.

Keywords: Ethnic identity, language and women, women and tradition

Pages: 1-21 | First Published: 1 March 2015

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SEARCH 7 (1) 2015


Gatekeeping in the Coverage of Interethnic Conflicts: An Analysis of Mainstream and Alternative Newspapers in Malaysia
* Yang Lai Fong & Md. Sidin Ahmad Ishak

Abstract:

Ethnicity, religion and related issues have always proved to be a difficult topic for reporting in multicultural societies. This study examined the gatekeeping process undertaken by Malaysian newspapers in reporting interethnic conflicts. The gatekeeping theory was employed as the theoretical framework. Interviews with editors from the mainstream and alternative newspapers found that gatekeeping took place at the individual, routine, and organizational as well as institutional levels. Significantly, two newspapers owned by pro-government political parties – Utusan by UMNO and The Star by MCA – claimed that ownership had an impact on their gatekeeping decision. It was found that political reason was the primary external factor influencing the gatekeeping of the newspapers in their coverage of interethnic conflicts. This study indicates that journalists/editors shape a reality that reflects the political, economic and ideological boundaries within which they work. More importantly, gatekeeping was found to reflect a struggle between dominant social norms and efforts for change.

Keywords: Gatekeeping, interethnic conflicts, vernacular newspapers, alternative newspaper

Pages: 23-51 | First Published: 1 March 2015

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SEARCH 7 (1) 2015


The Perceived Value of Silence and Spoken Words in Malaysian Interactions
* Kuang Ching Hei, Wong Ngan Ling & Maya Khemlani David

Abstract:

This paper analysed the perceptions of Malaysians in engaging silence (say nothing) and in using spoken words (talk) as a tool of communication in their daily interactions. Types of topics and situations being discussed were explored in order to detect when silence or words were likely to be used by participants. Self-administered questionnaires were distributed to students and staff of three public universities. Of the 656 samples collected, 50% were Chinese, 33% were Malays, 15% were Indians and 2% others. The demography consisted of 199 males and 456 females. SPSS version 18 was used to analyse data and results indicate that the use of silence was more significantly related to issues concerning money and personal affairs. In contrast, the use of spoken words was more significantly related to issues regarding infidelity. These findings are beneficial to researchers who are doing cross cultural studies and in particular, silence. Course designers can thus develop courses which can promote harmony by introducing certain strategies such as silence which, when used appropriately, can help to alleviate misunderstandings.

Keywords: Malaysians, communication, words, silence, cultural differences

Pages: 53-70 | First Published: 1 March 2015

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SEARCH 7 (1) 2015


Critical Analysis Of Multiphernia and Identity in Two Selected Malaysian Novels
Hamid Farahmandian

Abstract:

The texts that have been selected to analyse multiphrenia and identity issues are Green is the Color by Lloyd Fernando and Mr.Tang’s Girls by Shirley Lim. In this paper, I discuss how post-modern characteristics of self-creation define the protoganist’s identity while in the second novel, I explore the influence of patriarchal society on the shaping of the protagonist’s identity. The patriarchal society for which the protagonist’s father is an example is considered the ‘other’ as seen in Burke and Stets’ (2009) ‘the nature of the individual depends upon the society in which he or she lives’.

Keywords: Identity, multiphrenia, patriarchy, oppression

Pages: 71-79 | First Published: 1 March 2015

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