This presentation outlines an institutional framework for studying ethnic identity that unites constructivist theories of ethnic politics and with the literature on equilibrium institutions. I propose that ethnic identity is best understood as a social institution, and use this framework to provide theoretical microfoundations for a conception of identity that is emergent, intersubjective, situational, and contested. To motivate this discussion, I draw on the case of Malays in contemporary Malaysia. The larger project is a book-length study of the political economy of ethnic orders, drawing primarily on materials from Malaysia and Indonesia.
The Political Science Seminar Series is convened by Desmond King and Ben Ansell. For more information on this or any of the seminars in the series, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.