1 The Department of Society and Globalisation, Roskilde University2 International Development Research Group, Department of Social Sciences and Business, Roskilde University
This paper explores Malaysia’s efforts to develop and dominate a global market in halal (literally, ‘lawful or ‘permitted’) commodities as a diaspora strategy and how Malaysian state institutions, entrepreneurs, restaurants and middle-class groups in London respond to and are affected by this effort. The empirical focus is on London because this city not only holds a special position in the Malaysian state’s halal vision but also historical linkages that evoke diaspora strategies. I argue that Malaysian diaspora strategies should be explored in the interfaces between Islam, state and market. Among the political elite, and, thus, the Malaysian state, there exists a fascination with discovering or even inventing a cosmopolitan ‘Malay diaspora’ and current diaspora strategies try to address this challenge. An important question explored is how the Malaysian diaspora in London understand and practise Malaysian diaspora strategies in the globalized market for halal products and services. This paper is based on ethnographic material from fieldwork among state institutions, entrepreneurs, restaurants and middle-class groups in Kuala Lumpur and London, namely participant observation and interviewing.