UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Heritage, hybridity, and the global city-state : Singapore’s Peranakan museum Lim, Sharon W.Q.


This thesis will demonstrate how cultural policies in Singapore are informed by underlying political and socio-economic objectives. The topic addressed is the state’s use of material culture in the Peranakan Museum to meet the demands faced by the repositioning of Singapore as a global city-state without a natural hinterland. My study will make use of the tools offered by various disciplines, including anthropology, history and sociology. This will serve to address the themes of identity construction and nationhood from different angles, while applying these concerns to public policy. It is one of the main aims of this thesis to bring together interdisciplinary scholarship alongside my original research and personal experience at the Peranakan Museum. This thesis will be organized thematically into three chapters, followed by a brief conclusion. Chapter One will centre on two important, interrelated questions: What does the museum tell us about the past of the Peranakan? And how does the museum construct the idea of Peranakan at the present moment? Chapter Two focuses on the museum’s production of nostalgia, intended to anchor Singapore’s global citizens to the nation during times of change. This chapter will also discuss the regional and global uses of Peranakan culture for national branding purposes. Finally, Chapter Three explores why the state feels as if it needs to actively interfere in resolving tensions that have resulted from the reinvention of Singapore as a global city in the twenty-first century.

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