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Title: A political reading of home and family in English language Singaporean novels (1972-2002)
Author: Garsten, Caroline Nicole
Awarding Body: SOAS University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2008
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Homes and families feature in many post-independence, English-language Singaporean novels. They also have pronounced importance in Singaporean politics. In state discourses 'home' symbolizes the Singaporean nation and 'family' society. In addition, government policies are renowned for extending into the private domain. Furthermore, the national value of 'family as the basic unit of society' has been ratified by Parliament. A few published essays link portrayals of home or family in this fiction to national politics (Koh Tai Ann 1989, Philip Holden 1998 and Shirley Lim 2003). These studies often consider depictions of home or family relations in relation to whether they ultimately affirm or shake the status quo. This thesis is the first extended study to examine the potential political meanings or connotations of portrayed homes and families in over a dozen English-language Singaporean novels. It provides a thematic analysis of housing, the overlap between home and nation, inter-class and inter-racial relationships, 'filial' strains and paternalistic behaviour in a politico-historical context. The identified stances in the texts are then related to the long-ruling People's Action Party (PAP) Government's positions on these subjects. The analysis demonstrates that depictions of home and family in the selected texts can be meaningfully related to the hegemonic PAP government's policies, values, ideologies, and forms of authority. The multiple perspectives that emerge from the narratives can present more varied arguments than are commonly found in state discourses. In raising or gently alluding to different viewpoints, the novels may affirm, modify, question to the point of moral interrogation, present alternatives to, and/or critique state stances. In doing so they provide ideas for debate in a society where politics is deemed to be for politicians and where there is censorship and self-censoring.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral