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Title: A question of "Chineseness" : the Chinese diaspora in Singapore 1819-1950s
Author(s): Ling-yin, Lynn Ang
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis is a study of the Chinese diaspora in Singapore from 1819 to the 1950s. It begins by situating the diasporic subject in a historical context, highlighting some of the key moments in the diaspora's development, such as the advent of colonialism during the nineteenth century, and the formation of an ethnic enclave in the settlement. The discussion then calls into question the construction of the Chinese subject in colonial discourses, and interrogates the ways in which the diasporic population was constituted within the framework of colonialism. The main purpose has been to examine how the diaspora in Singapore has evolved, and to explore the adequacies, or inadequacies, of existing diasporic theories in the ways they relate to the Chinese experience. This is achieved by recapitulating the theoretical implications of existing diaspora frameworks, and questioning the tensions and limitations generated by such discourses. Simultaneously, this study takes into consideration the construction of a "Chinese identity", and does so by presenting possible ways of conceptualisng what it means to be "Chinese" for subjects of the diaspora. In discussing the extent to which the subject's sense of "self" and belonging has been shaped by its immigrant past, this research draws on and studies the writings, both literary and non-literary, that have emerged from the community. A central concern in all this is the identity and subjectivity of the diasporic subject, and the point here is that not every subject experiences diaspora in the same way, but that these alterities are important in the constitution and formation of a Chinese identity. As I note in the introduction, the issue of what it means to be Chinese, and indeed, the issue of home and belonging, is one that is always contested for people in the diasporic community, and the aim of this thesis has been to continually deconstruct the idea of a "single" Chinese diaspora, and to expose it as a heterogeneous, fragmented, and internally differentiated construction.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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