The Straits Chinese Magazine (SCM) : negotiating a Straits Chinese identity in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Singapore
Sng, Peiyu Gabrielle
Date of Issue2017
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
The Straits Chinese Magazine (SCM), published in Singapore between 1897 and 1907, was a watershed in the Peranakan Chinese’s history in Singapore. The first English-language periodical established by the community’s English-educated elites, it was the first explicit attempt to articulate a Straits Chinese identity. This study examines the magazine’s history and analyzes the articles in terms of identity formation and negotiation. The articles reflected the tensions and vacillation of the Straits Chinese between the British Empire, and a Qing China increasingly interested in the Chinese in Southeast Asia. Although the Straits Chinese aligned themselves with the British as British subjects, their alienation from political participation within colonial plural society, drew them to the Qing government’s and Chinese reformers’ overtures. The SCM was a vehicle for a group of English-educated Straits Chinese elites to express, debate, and negotiate a collective identity. The authors move between local and global arenas, highlighting their global consciousness. The magazine’s articles also highlighted how these Straits Chinese elites were debating about how to express their community through body and cultural projects. Through the SCM, a Straits Chinese identity was created; one that mediated between the West and China to determine their unique place in colonial Singapore.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University