HistoriaSG Lecture

Recovering the complex legacies of Kampong Melaka and Kampong Bengkulu: Two forgotten neighbourhoods of early communities 
By Dr Imran Tajudeen
29 July 2020, 7.30pm | Livestreamed on the National Museum’s Facebook page

1926_328C_BCL_Bencoolen St_239_CPD HSE_A M Ibrahim Esq straightened

Image: Plan showing alteration and addition to compound house at 239 Bencoolen Street, later renumbered as 81 Bencoolen Street, 1926. Courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore.


The urban wards named Kampong Melaka and Kampung Bengkulu appear in several maps of colonial Singapore. How did these two neighbourhoods of early communities develop when they were not reflected in the Raffles Town Plan (the "Jackson Plan") of November/December 1822? In this talk, Dr Imran Tajudeen will discuss what actually developed in colonial Singapore within and beyond the colonial grid of representation and, through the micro-histories of Kampong Melaka and Kampong Bengkulu, reconsider the conventional narratives and framing of the colonial city, particularly our present assumptions about the "Jackson Plan".

About the Speaker
Dr Imran bin Tajudeen researches architectural encounters in maritime Southeast Asia across the longue durée. He examines the vernacular city and its heritage tropes. His doctoral dissertation on this topic (NUS, 2009) won the ICAS Book Prize in 2011. He is co-editor of Southeast Asia’s Modern Architecture (2018), and was postdoctoral fellow at MIT's Aga Khan Program (2009–10) and the IIAS in Leiden (2010–11). He has published on Southeast Asia’s mosques in transregional and vernacular-Indic translations across and is currently working on a monograph on this subject. He is Mutawa Visiting Fellow in OXCIS (Oxford, 2019-2020) and is currently Visiting Senior Fellow at NUS Dept of Malay Studies

2019 Lecture 1

22 February 2019, 7.30pm – 8.30pm

THE COMFORT WOMEN OF SINGAPORE DURING THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION: A DARK HERITAGE TRAIL

Kevin Blackburn
Associate Professor, National Institute of Education, NTU

During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore from 1942 to 1945, the Japanese military sexually enslaved hundreds of mainly Korean – but also Chinese, Indonesian and Malay – women in what were called “comfort stations” dotted across Singapore. Japanese women were also brought to Singapore as “hostesses” or prostitutes for high-ranking officers. The last-known living survivor of this mass sexual enslavement in Singapore is Kim Bok Dong, aged 93, who lives in Seoul. She most likely worked at a comfort station on Sentosa. Other sites of comfort stations include buildings still standing at Cairnhill Road, Jalan Jurong Kechil, Tanjong Katong Road and Teo Hong Road in Chinatown.

Memories of the experiences of comfort women in Singapore during the Japanese Occupation illustrate the contradictions in remembering women’s experiences during war as transnational history.In this lecture, Prof Kevin Blackburn discusses the comfort women of Singapore in both history and memory, and offers insight into what has come to be called “dark heritage” sites of human suffering.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 1

THE COMFORT WOMEN OF SINGAPORE DURING THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION: A DARK HERITAGE TRAIL

Kevin Blackburn
Associate Professor, National Institute of Education, NTU

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2019 Lecture 2

18 May 2019, 2pm – 3pm

A TALE OF THOMASES AND TAPIRS: EARLY NATURAL HISTORY IN SINGAPORE AND NEARBY LANDS

Martyn E. Y. Low
Research Associate, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Three Thomases – Hardwicke, Horsfield and Raffles – have arguably made the earliest contributionsto natural history in Singapore. Directly or indirectly, they have been responsible for introducing thefirst mammals, birds, plants, reptiles and fishes from Singapore to the West. But beyond just“collecting” species and specimens, how did these three men, and others like them, contribute to thelarger understanding of nature and natural history in Singapore and beyond?

The story of the Malayan Tapir offers a “cheat sheet” to the development of this rich natural historythat began long before any of the Thomases stepped ashore in Singapore. This riveting tale involvesan emperor, eunuchs, a fleet of treasure ships, four Frenchmen, a Dutchman with a Chinese name,an English civil servant, and of course, several tapirs.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 2

A TALE OF THOMASES AND TAPIRS: EARLY NATURAL HISTORY IN SINGAPORE AND NEARBY LANDS

Martyn E. Y. Low
Research Associate, Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

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2019 Lecture 3

27 July 2019, 2pm – 3pm

MAKING OF SINGAPORE CHRONICLES: GETTING HISTORY DONE

Arun Mahizhnan
Special Research Adviser, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

Published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Singapore’s independence, Singapore Chronicles is a 50-volume series that records, explains and offers insights into what makes Singapore, Singapore. Written by subject experts from the public sector, academia and journalism, the books trace the nation’s evolution on a wide variety of fronts, from governance to the economy, from food and sports to the CPF and our flora and fauna. In this lecture, Singapore Chronicles series editor Arun Mahizhnan shares more about the project – why it was conceived, for whom is it intended and what will it lead to.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 3

MAKING OF SINGAPORE CHRONICLES: GETTING HISTORY DONE

Arun Mahizhnan
Special Research Adviser, Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

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2019 Lecture 4

28 July 2019, 4pm – 5pm

ENTERPRISE: THE ARMENIANS OF SINGAPORE

Dr Nadia Wright
Historian and author of The Armenians of Singapore: A Short History

Singapore is largely a nation of immigrants. This bicentennial year seems an apt time to acknowledge the significant contributions made to its development by one of its smallest minorities: the Armenians. Conspicuous in Singapore from 1820, individual Armenians have made their mark in the civic, social and economic life of Singapore. Two of Singapore’s national treasures – St Gregory’s Church and Raffles Hotel – as well as Singapore’s national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, and its national newspaper, The Straits Times, owe their origin to this tiny but enterprising community. In this illustrated talk, Australian-based author and historian Dr Nadia Wright will discuss the dynamics of the Armenian community, its origin and achievements.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 4

ENTERPRISE: THE ARMENIANS OF SINGAPORE

Dr Nadia Wright
Historian and author of The Armenians of Singapore: A Short History

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2019 Lecture 5

17 Aug 2019, 2.30pm – 3.30pm

WILL PRAGMATISIM UNDERMINE SINGAPORE’S NATIONAL IDENTITY?

Prof Kenneth Paul Tan
Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

The Singapore model of development and governance has often been described and celebrated as pragmatic. In this talk, Professor Kenneth Paul Tan will discuss the ways in which the Singaporean nation-building project has been served by pragmatism, how it can be undermined by a debased form of pragmatism, and what dystopian futures we might expect if that happens.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 5

WILL PRAGMATISIM UNDERMINE SINGAPORE’S NATIONAL IDENTITY?

Prof Kenneth Paul Tan
Associate Professor, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore

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2019 Lecture 6

14 September 2019, 2.30pm – 3.30pm

FAR FROM EXTINCT? A HISTORY OF THE “MILO DINOSAUR” IN SINGAPORE

Dr Geoffrey Pakiam
Fellow, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

What can a malted milk beverage tell us about a nation’s history? We can learn a surprising amount about popular notions of belonging, childhood, well-being and pleasure from the rise of Singapore’s most iconic malted drink, Milo, and the now-commonplace “Milo Dinosaur” beverage.
Today’s heritage food offerings are often portrayed as having charted a path from humble domestic beginnings to large outward-looking enterprises. In contrast, the Milo Dinosaur has its origins in the localisation of a multinational beverage brand, involving consumers and cooks from all walks of life.
Join historian Geoffrey Pakiam as he recounts the earth-shaking drink’s unusual popularity, and asks whether it should be considered part of Singapore’s heritage landscape.

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 6

FAR FROM EXTINCT? A HISTORY OF THE “MILO DINOSAUR” IN SINGAPORE

Dr Geoffrey Pakiam
Fellow, ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore

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2019 Lecture 7

25 October 2019, 7.30pm – 8.30pm

SINGAPORE’S ROLE IN THE SILK ROAD OF THE SEA

Professor John Miksic
Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

Singapore is a small country, but it plays a big role in Malay history. It was significant and sophisticated enough that China sent a mission here in 1320. Singapore reciprocated by sending a mission to China in 1325. The Malay Annals chose to depict Singapore as the first great Malay trading port. This is not true, but ancient Singapore made a strong impression on later Malay writers. This talk will discuss Singapore’s position as a small node in a great network of ports in the 14th century, and highlight aspects of Singapore’s modern identity which were already established during that period.

About the speaker

John N. Miksic received his PhD from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. He spent four years in Malaysia and nine years in Indonesia. In 1987 he moved to the National University of Singapore. He founded the Archaeology Unit at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. He has received a Special Recognition Award and the Pingat Bakti Setia long service award from the government of Singapore, and the title of Kanjeng Raden Harya Temenggung from the Susuhunan (hereditary ruler) of Surakarta, Indonesia. His book Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea won the inaugural Singapore History Prize for best book in 2018.

 

VideoHistoriaSG Lecture 7

SINGAPORE’S ROLE IN THE SILK ROAD OF THE SEA

Professor John Miksic
Department of Southeast Asian Studies, National University of Singapore



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