The Chinese of Singapore and their Imperial Second World War

Ernest Koh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

While much has been written on the experiences of the Chinese
community in Singapore during the Japanese invasion and occupation of the colony, the war remains primarily cast as the first act of a story that culminates in sovereign nationhood. Yet this teleological narrative of social connection only presents one face of the island’s Second World War history, one that is driven primarily by the need to forge a cohesive national story of the past. There is a need for historians to consider the plural experiences of the Second World War to break out of the ideology of the nation-state that encloses the historiography of Singapore in a way that structures historical thinking. This paper focuses on members of the Chinese community in Singapore who were oriented towards the notion of empire. It proposes to advance the historiographical discussion by using a body of unused sources to trace the contours of a very different political landscape. Using a combination of oral history interviews and archival sources, it examines the wartime lives of three individuals to consider absent frames of the conflict as experienced by members of the Chinese community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)57-78
Number of pages21
JournalChinese Southern Diaspora Studies
Volume5
Issue number2011-12
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

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