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Forgotten Spaces: The Singaporean Kitchen


Tarulevicz, NT, Forgotten Spaces: The Singaporean Kitchen , Association for Asian Studies (AAS) Annual Meeting, Published Abstracts, 3-6 April, 2008, Atlanta, USA (2008) [Conference Extract]


As a historical focus of study, kitchens have received little scholarly attention within the field of Southeast Asian studies. In many Southeast Asian countries particularly, Singapore, food plays a significant role in defining Singaporean culture, both for Singaporeans and visitors to this island state. In the 1930s, there was an explosion in the number of publications that dealt with the issue of domestic labour and home economics in many Southeast Asian countries. In Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore, publications of this nature were widely distributed and became increasingly de rigueur reading for the young modern Asian woman. However, this heyday of domestic science in the 1930s was fleeting. Today, the kitchen has become a forgotten space in Singapore society. In scholarly studies including architectural studies, the kitchen as a space in which hybrid and diverse food is prepared is strikingly absent. Architectural studies have tended to focus on the monumental, both in the colonial and the contemporary context. With each decade, the space devoted to the kitchen has been reduced in state-designed Housing Development Board (HDB) flats. Similarly, there has been a noticeable marginalization of the kitchen even in design magazines. By examining the domestic imperatives of the 1930s and the evolutions that come after this decade, this paper strives to provide insights into Singapore’s social hierarchies, domestic arrangements, family structures, and changing meanings of food in the transition from colonialism to independence.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Asian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Asia's past
UTAS Author:Tarulevicz, NT (Associate Professor Nicki Tarulevicz)
ID Code:71286
Year Published:2008
Deposited By:Research Division
Deposited On:2011-07-13
Last Modified:2011-07-13

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