Can Cultural Homogenization be an Open-Ended Process? Reconstructing the Narratives of Brunei’s Homogenization Process

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Brunei Darussalam, Cultural Homogenization, Melayu Islam Beraja, Modernization


This paper examines the cultural homogenization process in Brunei Darussalam. While the success and outcomes of cultural homogenization, in general, have been thoroughly examined and highlighted, recent research trends have also been focusing more on the processes of cultural homogenization on the ground, i.e., the responses and reactions of ordinary people who are, supposedly, at the receiving end of the homogenization process. In the case of Brunei Darussalam (hereinafter Brunei), cultural homogenization strategies were introduced as early as the 1950s, primarily for state-building purposes. Similar to conventional writings, official narratives of Brunei’s homogenization also focus more on the outcomes of the process. Thus, focusing on the Dusun ethnic group as its case study, this article questions the ways the Dusuns view and respond to the homogenization process. This study utilizes the interview data gathered from thirty-four Dusun respondents to examine how they perceive, understand, and react toward the process and related policies. The findings of the study suggest that the Dusuns generally accept the homogenization with a sporadic indication of contestation mainly due to the observable decline of ethnic culture and language. Modernization has also been identified as a notable agent, integrating successfully with the homogenizing process, and driving the latter to the desired outcomes.


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Author Biography

Asiyah Kumpoh, Universiti Brunei Darussalam

Asiyah Kumpoh is Senior Assistant Professor at Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Much of her research publication focuses on Brunei history, conversion narratives, the Brunei Dusun, diasporas and the historical evolution of religion, culture and identity in Brunei Darussalam. She has authored and co-written articles featured in peer-reviewed journals, including Journal of Asian Security and International Affairs, Diaspora Studies, Research in Comparative and International Education. Her recent publications include a co-authored chapter, Brunei Historiography (with Stephen C Druce and Nani Suryani Abu Bakar) in Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Brunei co-edited by Ooi Keat Gin & Victor Terry King (Routledge. 118-142, 2022).


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How to Cite

Kumpoh, A. (2023). Can Cultural Homogenization be an Open-Ended Process? Reconstructing the Narratives of Brunei’s Homogenization Process. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 10(2), 75–89.



Original Manuscript
Received 2022-11-21
Accepted 2023-04-09
Published 2023-04-19