YOUTHS AND THE MAINTENANCE OF THE PORTUGUESE IDENTITY IN MELAKA

The Portuguese identity plays an important role not only towards the Portuguese community but also to Malaysia. If the Portuguese community does not preserve their identity, they may lose their identity throughout time. It will be a loss for Malaysia as well because Malaysia is regarded as a country uniquely rich with its ethnic diversity. This Portuguese community is the only community in the world where they speak a localized Portuguese language, furthermore, their customs and cultures are influenced by the locals through assimilation. Thus, this paper aimed to examine the roles of language, customs and traditions in the maintenance of cultural identity among the Portuguese community in Melaka, Malaysia based on the Portuguese youths’ perspectives. In this article, we analyze the role of the youths in the maintenance of the Portuguese identity - a topic not widely explored. Data were collected from seven (7) open ended interview questions based on Berry’s acculturation model (2005). Eight (8) Portuguese youths were interviewed face-to-face in Melaka Portuguese settlement from May to June 2017. The results showed that the respondents emphasized that the maintenance of Portuguese identity should focus on the cultural perspectives such as the Portuguese traditional customs and festival celebration. However, unlike other ethnic groups in Malaysia, the element of language, i.e. Kristang language was deemed as unimportant in the youths’ opinion on Portuguese identity.

Keywords: Portuguese, Cultural Identity, Youths, Maintaining Identity, Portuguese Community

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