Beyond racialised construction and representation of heritage spaces : Chinese interactions in Little India
Veeramany Pannir Selvam
Date of Issue2016-03-23
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Little India is one of the four urban ethnic enclaves in modern Singapore. The post independent government’s heavy hand in constructing a dedicated space for each of its four major racial groups has resulted in the Serangoon Road area to become Indianised and called Little India at present. This is, however, in contrary with what the area used to be in the past where there was a significant involvement of other races. This paper will explicate how the Indianisation of Serangoon Road and the representation of it as an historic Indian enclave has led to the oversimplification and under representation of other racial groups’ involvement in the area, in particular that of the Chinese. Existing scholarship has argued that representations of non-Indian interactions in a themed heritage area may create multiple identities of the space thereby diluting the intended purpose. However, this essay will use evidence from archaeological findings, architecture of conserved shop houses, old photographs, newspaper advertisements and oral history to argue that the oversimplification and underrepresentation of the multi racial interactions in the Serangoon Road area has led to the loss of a collective memory of the space. The findings and conclusions of this paper will have applications beyond Little India on other socially constructed urban ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown, Kampong Glam and The Civic District.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University