The Institute of Ethnic Studies (KITA) was officially established on the 8th of October 2007, on the date when Prof. Datuk Dr. Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, was appointed by the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) as the Director of KITA.
KITA is the only full-fledged research institute in Malaysia focusing specifically on ‘ethnic studies.’ Although academically, KITA has a ‘thematic studies’ orientation, it, however, draws its strength from both ‘disciplinary studies’ as well as ‘area studies,’ thus encouraging cross-disciplinary activities, involving three major sectors of the society, namely, the public, the private, and the community sectors. Thus KITA adopts an inclusivist approach in conducting its activities.
It is well-known that, globally, ethnic studies have emerged mostly from traumatic and even turbulent, violent circumstances. However, in Malaysia’s case, the frequently asked question is “how is it that she has been able to sustain, comparatively and relatively, stable and harmonious inter-ethnic relations?”. The pursuit of some credible answers for such questions motivates the establishment of KITA.
But more importantly, in recent years, increased globalization and large-scale transnational labour movement, has resulted in increased ethnic pluralization of societies worldwide, which, consequently, presents a new set of sociological complexities hence theoretic-conceptual challenges to comprehend this new phenomenon, both at the level of academic analyses as well as public advocacy and policies.
Vision, Mission, Goals
Towards sustaining, comparatively and relatively, an inclusive-oriented, stable and harmonious intra- and inter-ethnic relations among Malaysians and beyond.
To foster and build inclusive, multi-strategic approaches in addressing the complex ethnic-based related challenges.
To build a comprehensive database on ethnic relations and minority groups in which data is collected directly and indirectly, particularly in Malaysia and in comparison with other plural societies;
To build the capacity and potential of professionals, academics, intellectuals, philosophers among a group of experts specializing in the field of ethnic relations and minorities on a long term basis;
To foster academic and intellectual network and professional exchanges among researchers in the field of ethnic and minority studies, within and beyond Malaysia.
2) Public Advocacy:
To provide public discourse through round table and focus groups discussions specifically among the general public, specific groups and communities on aspects of ethnic relations in Malaysia;
To provide materials based on research findings for the mass media, matters related to various issues of governance, economic and sociopolitical considerations in this country through print or online media as well as various TV shows.