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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Culture Chameleons

Excellent food for thought this. Culture Chameleons. Quite a minor antithesis of mass culture, yet an interesting converging point for hybridity. Not quite sure how I can use this concept in the paper, yet. Ideas, anyone?


Culture Chameleons
By Danielle Ang
Source Asia1 - (Date of Access 10 August 2008)

She's Chinese, has adopted Indian nicknames, and peppers her speech with Malay colloquialisms.

She's Malay and loves Indian culture.

Welcome to the world of Singapore's Culture Chameleons, or CCs.

They tend to be young adults between 18 and 25, are open to inter-ethnic mingling, adopt aspects of their friends' cultures and, in doing so, even reshape their identities.

Take 18-year-old Colleen Gwee. Listening to her on the phone, one might not think she is Chinese.

This is especially when her speech gets animated: It takes on a Tamil accent with a lilting cadence and rolling 'Rs'.

The personal assistant will also pepper her conversations with Malay colloquialisms like 'Apa itu?' (What's this?) and 'Sial!', an exclamation in vernacular Malay-speak.

Her favourite food is chapati, an Indian dish, and she listens to Tamil pop songs. She even has Indian pet names like Pooja or Poonam. Friends, many of whom are Indian, gave her that moniker. Her boyfriend of two years is an Indian Muslim.

'Many people mistake me for an Indian or Malay or Eurasian, but my parents are Chinese Hakka,' she said.

Ms Gwee picked up conversational Tamil and Malay while she was in Naval Base Secondary School, which has a large number of Malay and Indian students.

Then there is Malay undergraduate Siti Hazariah Abu Bakar, 20. She fell in love with Indian culture when she visited India four years ago on a secondary school exchange programme.

She has since delved deeply into the Indian influences on her Malay heritage and enjoys her South Asian studies at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

Sociologists here have noticed this revival of inter-racial interaction among the youth.

Though no proper studies have been done on this, Dr Tan Ern Ser, an NUS sociologist, said: 'My own study suggests that there is more inter-ethnic interaction among younger people, compared with older people.'

If so, the state of racial relations has never been better..."

For full article, go here.