The focal point for this paper is the new national museum of Singapore which; interestingly; comprises a network of new museums representing the various cultural minorities that make up the Singaporean population (the Singapore History Museum and the two new wings of the Asian Civilizations Museum). In particular; I wish to explore the reasons why; and the processes through which a cultural phenomenon (in this case the culture of the Peranakans) becomes defined as â€˜national heritageâ€™ by the state. Relatedly; I will also consider how different definitions of heritage are interpreted by Singaporeans and how constructions of a multi-ethnic heritage may co-exist in harmony with the stateâ€™s hegemonic aims. To do so; I will focus first on the Singaporean museumsâ€™ attempt to invent a Peranakan heritage and appropriate a sense of â€˜indigenousnessâ€™ in the project of nation building; and secondly on a recent exhibition on marriage which; I believe; attempts to put forward a Singaporean identity based on the portrayal of the nation as a multi-ethnic â€˜community of communitiesâ€™.
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