A Family Scene with Babies: Non-Institutional Ethnic Child Fostering in Malaysia

Silvia Vignato


This article focuses on the care of Malaysian children when they are not raised by their kins and examines two Malaysian community-centred institutions for unattached or neglected children in Penang. It first describes how two women in charge of these institutions work, as well as the ethnic landscape they move within. Then, it analyses what principles of relation they perfect and enact. Finally, it considers the interaction between the two homes and some outputs of the Malaysian State to highlight what imagination informs the caregivers and the state officers they relate to. It will be argued that the people who live in the two homes are powerful agents of the main social forces in Malaysia, and that they are not external or resistant actors, nor necessarily unfortunate and marginal in spite of the fact that they learn to use their marginality as a means of survival.


anthropology, Malaysia, fostering, charity, children, ethnicity, marginality

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14672/ada2014256%25p


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