Ethnic Modernities in 1959 British Borneo

A rich gallery of advertising campaigns from British Borneo circa 1959, including an ad for Quaker Oats that tried to persuade employers that workers who consumed this product for breakfast would be more productive.

Le Minh Khai's SEAsian History Blog (+ More)

I was looking at a newspaper called the Borneo Bulletin. It started to be published in 1953 in Brunei, but it was directed at readers in Sawarak and Sabah as well, that is, in all of what was then “British Borneo.”


In looking at some issues from 1959, I found the advertisements to be very interesting. They were all depicting aspects of a modern lifestyle, but modernity was presented differently to the members of different ethnic groups.

To the British, modernity meant sending your children back to the UK on the planes of the British Overseas Air Corporation and Malayan Airways so that they could go to school.


For the Chinese it meant eating Quaker Oats so that they could work better. . .

quaker oats

. . . and drinking Ovaltine so that they could play better. . .


. . . and eating Chivers Jam so that they could…

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