At a time when violent conflict, terrorism, and civil strife emanating from ethnic and religious divisions are making the world we live in increasingly unsafe and insecure, one can find many instances and places in South and Southeast Asian region where people of different ethnicity and or religion coexist and cohabit in peace and harmony.
Focusing on Goa and Malaysia, the primary question addressed in this talk was what are the forms of civility practiced or observed by communities in multicultural settings that avert and avoid social tensions and conflict. These forms have been variously described as every-day forms of civic engagement or everyday or grass-roots multiculturalism, or thick or rooted cosmopolitanism. In specific terms, he spoke about the role of religious syncretism and interculturalism in fostering civility in Goa and the adoption of what has been referred to as ‘sly civility’ in the negotiation and management of Malaysian Aboriginal relations with dominant Malays.
Dr Alberto Gomes is senior lecturer and programme convener– Sociology/Anthropology –at La Trobe University, Melbourne. Gomes has published three books and several papers based on his ethnographic research on Malaysian Aborigines (Orang Asli). The books include Malaysia and the Original People (1997), co-authored), Looking for Money: Capitalism and Modernity in an Orang Asli Village (2004) and Malaysia and Modernity: Settling the Menraq Forest Nomads (2007). He has also written a number of journal articles and book chapters on issues related to cultural identities and cultural politics based on his research and personal reflections on Goa in India and on Malaysia. Gomes who grew up in Malaysia and now an Australian national.