The Contradictions of Authenticity: Burden of the Imaginary
This paper takes a critical look at the construction of an “Authentic” Chinese cultural identity in the political and popular discourses in multicultural Singapore. For a nation that is obsessed with telling the people and the world about embracing diversity in culture, it also displays an anxiety towards preserving and recovering “authentic” Chinese cultural identity among its Chinese citizens. With the rise of China as an economic super-power, possessing Chinese cultural practices and values is now seen as valued cultural resource. The selective adoption of this particular configuration towards cultural identity has gained greater impetus among the elites mobilizing resources from the orientalist imagination of Confucian ethics to popular Chinese folklore to represent the authenticity of the Chinese-ness in its local Singaporean Chinese cultural identity. This constant reference to the imagined China is done irregardless of the absurdity entailed or the impact on both the local Chinese majority and other ethnic groups.
Mr. Hee Juat Sim
postgraduate student, Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore