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Title: Understanding Marriage: Chinese Weddings in Singapore
Keywords: Marriage, Singapore, Chinese, Negotiation, Ritual, Archive
Issue Date: 30-Nov-2011
Citation: LEONG HUAN CHIE (2011-11-30). Understanding Marriage: Chinese Weddings in Singapore. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Being one of the key points in the ceremonial life of an individual, wedding ceremonies are often lengthy elaborate and colorful affairs replete with many symbolic meanings. This thesis looks at the changing ways that people have come to think about marriage in Singapore, by examining how the Chinese wedding (traditionally referred to as ?Red Affairs?) has come to be executed and negotiated across time. It adopts Peter Riviere?s (1971) argument that there is no single definition of marriage. Marriage plays a different role with the changing social landscape of a particular group or community. It is suggested that people negotiate what marriage means to them through the rites they choose to celebrate and construct it. Ritual is subjected to changes and continuities, and is negotiated to reflect the key cultural values, social needs as well as expectations of a particular social group at a given time. Marriage has moved from being a family oriented to an individual and state oriented institution; beyond just being a family affair complete with customary ceremonial celebrations that symbolize a ?bundle of rights? negotiated and conferred upon its adherents, the formation of marriage amongst the Chinese in modern Singapore has come to rest upon ideas such as the public display of the married couple as well as the beginning of a relationship between two individuals. The concept of ?archive? is central to this thesis. Following Jacques Derrida (1996), this thesis suggests that the archive is a ?place? and a repository of cultural production which individuals draw upon in their everyday life. It is considered as a particular form that creates and preserves tradition. Besides the subjective nature wherein the couple negotiates behaviors, consumptions and interactions with others while drawing on ?archives?, this thesis considers how various discourses or practices shape this negotiation. It offers a glimpse as to how these negotiations link with one?s relationship with the past, the present and the future, as well as with ideas of the self, the family and the perfect wedding today. Through the lens of the wedding preparation, performance, and the ?archiving? of the event, we get a glimpse of the fundamental change in the way young people think about themselves today in comparison to the earlier generations. Modern wedding ideals and rituals are created. A flurry of activities is feeding into people?s desire to put on a display of themselves through their weddings. The boundaries of archives have widened alongside technological advancements and changing notions of marriage ? besides the physical archive (wedding albums), the electronic archive is fast becoming a documentation of the wedding. This thesis examines new media and photographs as some of the new rites associated with contemporary weddings. Drawing on Nick Couldry?s (2004) reference to the ?celebrification? and celebrity culture that underlie media rituals, it is put forward that individuals are wooed to make a spectacle of themselves, and that there is an increasing desire to be a public personality.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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