Citizen Historian Updated! (March 2008)
Dear subscribers, friends and history enthusiasts
We have update citizen historian for March 2008!
A Singapore History Proposal
We have a seventh essay proposing a Singapore history documentary These
essays are written by undergraduates taking Singapore Studies history
class (SSA2211: Evolution of a Global City-State) at NUS, in response to
the following question:
Question / Scenario
The aim of this assignment is to think about the possibilities of how the
history of Singapore can be told, and decide on a storyline for
Singapore’s history which you think is most appropriate.
You are a student of Singapore history. A foreign television producer from
The History Channel contacts you and says that she is making a documentary
on Singapore’s history, and would like your advice on how to approach the
subject in a meaningful and interesting way.
Write an essay of 800-1000 words, explaining your proposal for the
documentary. What would be the main plot of the script? Which time
periods, events, individuals, themes, issues etc. would you choose to
highlight? Explain the reasoning behind your choices.
In his proposal, Andrew Cai tries to find a basis for a Singaporean
identity by employing what he calls a “grassroots lens” approach to
understanding Singapore history. To arrive at a semblance of a Singaporean
identity, he feels a social history will be useful to build up bonds of
attachment to Singapore.
You can also go back to read the six essays previously uploaded below:
History and Historiography
In the first of two contributions, Ismail Alatas (or Aji as we call him)
provides a preliminary sketch on the relationship between time, logic and
the way we understand and present the past. This article was written in
response to a discussion during a class seminar on history and
In his second contribution, Aji introduces the Hadrami from the Hadramaut
region in West Asia (present-day Yemen). In the attached article, he
highlights historical factors behind the migration patterns of the
Hadramis (which include the well-known Alkaff family here in Singapore)
and discusses their impact on gender roles within the Hadrami community.
The post is an introduction to the Hadramis, while the article is in
PDF-format and can be downloaded at the end of the post.
In his second contribution to citizen historian, Jack Chia reviews
Guardians of the South Seas, an English-translation of Bojing nanming:
Tianfugong yu fujian huiguan (2005), a commemorative book published by the
Singapore Hokkien Huay Kuan to celebrate their 165 years of operation in
Singapore. This review was written for a seminar co-ordinated by Professor
Barbara Andaya when she was in NUS as Visiting Raffles Professor of
History in 2007.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank my fellow post-grad
colleagues, Hu Wen, Edgar Liao, Jack Chia and Mok Mei Feng for helping
with the editing of the articles for this and previous updates. Thanks
We hope you enjoy reading this month’s collection and once again, welcome
all comments or feedback regarding the articles or on citizen historian in
Many thanks for taking the time and trouble…
for Editors, citizen historian