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Title: 从《The Peranakan》杂志(1994-2019) 看新加坡土生华人群体的身份重建 = RE-IMAGINATION OF THE SINGAPORE PERANAKAN IDENTITY THROUGH “THE PERANAKAN” MAGAZINE (1994-2019)
Authors: 孙苹钰
Keywords: 新加坡土生华人
The Peranakan杂志
Issue Date: 11-Apr-2019
Citation: 孙苹钰, SUN PINGYU (2019-04-11). 从《The Peranakan》杂志(1994-2019) 看新加坡土生华人群体的身份重建 = RE-IMAGINATION OF THE SINGAPORE PERANAKAN IDENTITY THROUGH “THE PERANAKAN” MAGAZINE (1994-2019). ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The issue of Peranakan identity has always been subjected to debates and re-negotiations due to its fluid boundaries that are susceptible to the various socio- historical changes. The Peranakan identity used to connote a social and political privilege, as well as the legal status for the Straits Chinese community during the British colonial period. After the Japanese Occupation (1942-1945) and Singapore Independence (1965), the Peranakans lost such privileges and were at risk of being acculturated by the mainstream Singapore Chinese and Malay communities. As a result, they have to emphasize on their external material culture in order to remain a distinctive, identifiable community. Concurrently, the Singapore government needed to construct a national culture aligned with the state’s multicultural policies, in order to forge national identity and a sense of belonging. The manifestation of a unique, multicultural fusion in the Peranakan culture was adapted as a representative part of the Singapore national cultural heritage. Thus, the government and the Peranakan community formed a symbiotic working relationship, which led to the revival of the Peranakan culture in the 1980s, whereby cultural aspects (language, customs, food, costumes, antiques, architecture) of the community became the new identifier of the their identity. Yet with the official recognition and support from the government authorities to preserve the culture (with museums and heritage centers), members within the community, especially the younger generations, were unable to resonate with the cultural elements. With that and the onset of globalization, the Peranakan identity is once again being contested and subjected to re-imagination and re-construction. The Peranakan magazine published by The Peranakan Association, Singapore (TPAS) since 1994, is not only an invaluable collection of historical sources, but also a platform representative of the Singapore Peranakan community. The articles and interviews in the magazine, which more often than not came from the Peranakans themselves, reflect of the community’s take on the ever-changing Peranakan identity. In this essay, I plan to reimagine the identity of Peranakans in 21st Century Singapore, through the analysis of narratives presented in the magazine articles, editorials, and letters. The magazine functions as a narrative that distinguishes the Peranakans from other communities, re-affirms the cultural and historical representations of Peranakan culture as part of the Singaporean heritage, and act as an ambassador to connect a global network of Peranakans. Hence, the Peranakans after the 2000s is reimagined as not only an individual cultural community, but also a representation of the nation and even the Southeast Asian region.
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