Society and Identity
The Peranakans in Singapore are an interesting case study in marginality. As the descendants of inter-marriage between natives and, usually Chinese, settlers, their resultant culture is characterized by hybridity and adaptation. During Singapore’s colonial period, the Peranakans played a role as community liaisons and lower-level civil servants. Therefore, in heritage, memory and perception, they are a group seen as well-educated, well-connected and wealthy. Yet, in contemporary Singapore, their chief contribution is seemingly a cultural one, and the Peranakan heritage is celebrated through food, fashion and domestic architecture. Using Karen M. Teoh’s 2015 article “Domesticating Hybridity” as a springboard, my paper looks at Peranakan cookbooks and other food-based representations of Peranakan culture and unpacks the narratives that negotiate heritage, status and taste within the context of domestic space, female skills, and the museum-ization and commodification of Peranakan food in Singapore. This will aid us in better comprehending how a cultural group accommodates changes in status, family structures and relations, and the feminization of heritage, while cementing its position in the cultural memory of Singapore.