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making sense of a mélange: Representing Cultural Citizenship in Singapore's Asian Civilisations Museum



Museums around the globe are increasingly being employed to expand the practice and experience of cultural citizenship, interpreting cross-cultural connections as key to civic identity and pride. This article is an ethnographic case study of how two museums represent different visions of cultural citizenship in the ethnically diverse nation of Singapore. Viewing exhibitions as texts and drawing on interviews and interactions with museum staff, visitors, and community members as well as observations made within the museum environment, this research suggests that the two branches of Singapore's Asian Civilisations Museum—the new “Peranakan Museum” and the Empress Place Museum—can be seen as tools that are central to the promotion of government agendas of nation building and cultural citizenization in Singapore. In this article, I analyze them in terms of their embodiment of “traditional” versus “post” multicultural characteristics. [national museums, identity, postcolonialism, multiculturalism, Peranakans, Singapore]