Published on: 01-Feb-2017
Confucius Institute, Nanyang Technological University organized a seminar on the study of Peranakan community in Singapore and Malaysia on 14 Jan 2017. A panel of five speakers from SIM University and National Institute of Education (NIE) presented their research on topics ranging from Peranakan Chinese community history, literature and culture, to economic developments. Dr Tan Ta Sen, a noted scholar on the maritime Silk Road as well as the Peranakan community in Malacca, raised several issues faced by the Peranakan community and its struggle with identity formation in his keynote address.
The first speaker from the panel is Dr Sim Yong Huei from NIE. Dr Sim discussed network and identity issues relating to a particular Peranakan family that operated between Nanyang and China in the late 19th century through the re-reading of a travelogue from a historical perspective.
The second speaker is Dr Lye Kit Ying, from SIM University. Using works written by Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Josephine Chia, she examined the ways with which Peranakan women negotiate a national identity and contemplate their own identities and relationships with their community during Singapore’s nation-building years. Continuing the discussion of culture and identity, Dr Janice Kam, from SIM University, looked at the ways cultural practices and products are collected and presented as part of an authentic ‘Peranakan’ heritage, and the claims made by contemporary groups as heirs to this heritage in commodities such as coffee table books and cookbooks.
The fourth presenter from the panel was Dr Pan Zhengqi, also from SIM University. He examined how business partnerships, the opium trade, matrimonial ties, as well as the hybrid Eastern-Western culture of the Peranakans helped to bolster the overall Peranakan business network, which in turn, had broader implications on how ethnic Chinese business networks were able to exert real political influence in Singapore from early 19th Century to the immediate years after WWII.
The final presenter, Dr Lim Tai Wei, from SIM University, examined the reconstruction of Peranakan culture through the conservation and collection of Peranakan porcelains in Malacca, with a discussion on histories and origins, aesthetics, as well as the production of Peranakan wares.
In his closing speech, Director Neo Peng Fu of Confucius Institute, Nanyang Technological University, summarized the salient points of the presentations, and offered more discussions of the current trends and developments in the Peranakan, as well as, overseas Chinese communities in Singapore.
- Written by Dr Lye Kit Ying, Dr Pan Zhengqi, Dr Lim Tai Wei and Dr Janice Kam
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