Penang: Rites of Belonging in a Malaysian Chinese Community


Jean DeBernardi
2009. NUS Press
Softcover. 22.8cm x 15.3cm, 318 pages
31 maps and illustrations
ISBN: 9789971694166


The British established George Town on Penang Island in 1796, and encouraged Chinese merchants and labourers to migrate to this vibrant trading port. In the multicultural urban settlement that developed, the Chinese immigrants organized their social life through community temples and their secret sworn brotherhoods. These community associations assumed exceptional importance precisely because they were a means to establish a social presence for the Chinese immigrants, to organize their social life, and to display their economic prowess. Split into two parts, Penang: Rites of Belonging covers all of these topics and more, including religion and society as it was in colonial times, and as it is now.

About the Author

Jean DeBernardi, a professor of Anthropology at the University of Alberta, began research on the history of Chinese religion in Penang in 1991 as a Luce Fellow at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies at Cornell University. From there he continued the research in London and Singapore. Penang: Rites of Belonging, as well as another of his titles, The Way that Lives in the Heart: Chinese Popular Religion and Spirit Mediums in Penang, Malaysia, is the culmination of his extensive research.

Table of Contents

A Note on Romanization
Part One: Religion and Society in Colonial Penang
1- The Localization of Chinese Society in Colonial Penang
2- “A Very Irreligious but Most Superstitious People”: Trust, Tolerance, and Control in the Straits Settlements, 1786-1857
3- Belonging and Boundaries: European Freemasons and Chinese Sworn Brotherhoods
4- Rites of Belonging: Initiation into the Chinese Sworn Brotherhoods
Part Two: Religion and the Politics of Ethnic Revival in Contemporary Penang
5- Rights of Belonging: Citizenship and Ethnic Nationalism
6- Time, Space, and Social Memory
7- The Politics of a Religious Revitalization: The Hungry Ghosts Festival
8- Performing Magical Power: The Nine Emperor Gods Festival

Weight 550 g
Dimensions 22.8 × 15.3 × 1.8 cm

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