This book explores a central tension in identity politics: how the state, civil society and people in general may want to create and maintain cultural, religious and social cohesion while paradoxically their practices in everyday life often run counter to this. Malaysia is no exception. Here, a political elite maintains control and cultural dominance but must juggle political pressure from Islamic and Malay supremacists with that from moderate civil society groups. This gives rise to a complex interplay of domination, accommodation and negotiation between the state and its citizens. At the heart of this study is the conjuncture between Malay ethnicity
and Islamic faith, hence its examination of the state discourse on
‘civilizational Islam’. However, other areas are also explored, including the arts as a contested space. The result is a thought-provoking study combining philosophical and social theory with anthropological insights.