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Title: Staging 'Peranakan-ness': A Cultural History of The Gunong Sayang Association's Wayang Peranakan, 1985-1995
Keywords: Peranakan culture, identity construction, Peranakan drama, ethnic theatre, Gunong Sayang Association, cultural preservation
Issue Date: 16-Aug-2011
Citation: BRANDON ALBERT LIM (2011-08-16). Staging 'Peranakan-ness': A Cultural History of The Gunong Sayang Association's Wayang Peranakan, 1985-1995. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Peranakan culture since the late-1970s has never ceased to be a subject of interest to the Singaporean public. Certain prominent Peranakan cultural markers that many Singaporeans encounter in their daily lives no doubt fuel this collective fascination that led to what many have felt was a `Peranakan Revival?. But there is an aspect not immediately apparent to non-Peranakans: concomitant with this public facade was a nascent sense of revivalism among Peranakans themselves as they grappled with how to preserve their culture for posterity. One of the key institutions that facilitated this process was the annual Wayang Peranakan staged by the Gunong Sayang Association (GSA). The Wayang Peranakan of the 1980s has been studied by theatre practitioners and sociolinguists alike, but never as a cultural expression of `Peranakan-ness? that reflects social realities of the era they were performed in. This thesis hence represents the first historical study of this unique performative genre in Singapore. Through this thesis, I hope to not only uncover a hitherto neglected area for historical research, but also interrogate what ideas of what a `Peranakan identity? entails. In so doing, I reveal the general cultural invented-ness of how people think about, and present, their identities, particularly at a time when their culture was increasingly gaining a foothold in the Singapore public imagination. For the many Peranakans who did not live through the supposed `Golden Age? of Peranakan culture, and for those who did and may have forgotten, the very idea of what `Peranakan-ness? entails is quite simply as real as what the wayangs make them out to be. As a repository of social memory and an encyclopaedia of Peranakan cultural essentials, there is little doubt that the Wayang Peranakan is a worthy subject of study.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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