Stuck at stage two : decolonising the Peranakans in Josephine Chia’s frog under a coconut shell
Lee, Victoria Chanel Yie Hsinn
Date of Issue2016
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Little has been explored about alternative postcolonial narratives in Singapore literature, such as the Peranakan postcolonial journey. Neither Chinese nor Malay, the Peranakans are a unique hybrid of the two cultures, and therefore, they “challenge the modern national narrative” as they went through a different colonial experience as compared to the other ethnic groups in Singapore, such as the Chinese immigrants and the indigenous Malay community (Yoong 13). This paper’s analysis of Frog under a Coconut Shell, which is set in Singapore’s colonial era to the present, presents an alternative perspective to the Singaporean narrative. By analysing the text mainly through Franz Fanon’s three phases of decolonisation, this paper aims to ignite new conversation about Singapore’s postcolonial journey through the differing experiences of the Peranakan characters. Ultimately, the paper argues that the Peranakans are unable to truly decolonise as the Peranakan identity has become unstable due to modernisation, post independence policies that marginalise the Peranakans, as well as assimilation into the larger Chinese identity. Therefore, the Peranakans are still stuck at stage two, where “past happenings of the bygone days of his childhood will be brought up out of the depths of his memory” and will never be able to reach Fanon’s third stage and truly decolonise (Fanon 179).
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University