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Accepted Paper:

'Baba' as a mark of conviviality among the Peranakan communities of Melaka  


Silvio Moreira De Sousa (Macau University of Science and Technology)
Raan-Hann Tan

Paper short abstract:

Baba-Nyonya, Chetti, and Kristang are three creole/peranakan communities in Melaka and use the term 'baba' as an honorific title. In the daily communication, the shorter form 'ba' is present in the Malay and English vernaculars. How does an honorific title reflect Nowicka's (2020) conviviality?

Paper long abstract:

This presentation focuses on three Creole/Peranakan communities, i.e. the Baba-Nyonya, Chetti, and Portuguese-Eurasians (alias Kristang), of the historical city of Melaka and the etymology of the term 'baba'. Data was gathered through fieldwork involving observations and interviews in the Portuguese Village and Chetti Village as well as some members of the Baba-Nyonya community in Melaka. Although baba is an ethnonym for the male members of the later community, the study found that baba is not only used as an honorific title within the Chinese Peranakan community, but is also reported among the Indian Peranakan community (alias Chetti) and is used as a kinship term within the Portuguese-Eurasian community. Moreover, in the daily communication of Melaka, the shorter form ba is present in the Malay and English vernaculars as a term of address. Having in view the concepts of creolisation in Europe (Eriksen 2020; Rodríguez 2020) and the notion of conviviality through a physical space (Nowicka 2020), we attempt to show the vernaculars of Melaka maintain (and in some cases at risk of obsolescence) what could be defined as a marker of conviviality. The physical space of Melaka has been experiencing changes; the different neighborhoods referred as locations for Portuguese-Eurasians (Baxter 1988: 9-10; Alcantara 1992:3; Pires 2012:123) or as areas of mixed, inter-ethnic residence are being replaced by tourism-oriented businesses. These impact the inter-ethnic interactions.

Panel P061
Creolisation and conviviality