Conceptualizing the Language and Cultural Ideologies of the Kadazandusun in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

Author Information

Trixie M Tangit,
Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Malaysia

DOI: 10.47298/cala2022.5-1
The GLOCAL Proceedings:  The GLOCAL Conference in Asia 2022


The Kadazandusun ethnic grouping in Sabah, Malaysia, a political network of at least 40 cultural groups with Bornean roots and animistic traditions, continues to grapple with identity issues and threats of internal splitting. While group leaders maintain that their respective group identities and languages are in contradistinction, they urge members to remain united under the Bornean Indigeneity symbol found in Kadazandusun, and to contest homogenisation under the Malayanising state. Yet, the decision to coin the term ‘Kadazandusun’ from two previously used ethnic categories in census, Kadazan and Dusun, continues to plague them. There is also opposition to the standard Kadazandusun language, which was created and has been taught in public schools since the late 1990s. As the identity politics of the Kadazandusun threatens its continued implementation, the entwining and entangled relationship between language and cultural ideas for the Kadazandusuns need to be properly unpacked and studied, if we are to truly understand what it means to be Kadazandusun today.

Keywords: Language ideology, Kadazandusun, identity politics, Sabah, Borneo, indigenous


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