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Surviving the Politics of Late Modernity: The Eurasian Fringe Community of Singapore1

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This paper locates the Eurasian community's reconciliatory politics in an age marked by a proclivity for primordial purity within complex political, social and economic sub-systems. The word "Eurasian" has both old and new connotations; "old" because of primordial accents of physically "observable" biological mixture, and "difference"; and "new" because of cultural origins in the early to mid-sixteenth century. This paper concentrates on Eurasians in Singapore after 1945. Eurasians are the architects, objects, and subjects of a hybrid culture, a momentary reminder of a formerly powerful colonial presence in Southeast Asia. Since the early sixteenth century Eurasians have been transformed by the impact of at least three different phases of Western colonialism, and since 1955, two ongoing phases of internal colonialism by a predominantly Malay state in Malay[si]a, and a migrant, Chinese-dominated State in Singapore. Eurasians in Malaysia and Singapore survive as a fringe community: a politically, and demographically marginal community that has existed and continues to exist on the fringe of the modern Malay world, subjected through the years to the state policies of the Portuguese, Dutch, British, Malay, and Singapore governments, yet managing to preserve their culture of "Eurasianess" through a strategy of reconciliatory politics in late modernity.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Political Science National University of Singapore

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2000-01-01
2016-12-05

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