David Hock Jin NEO
This paper will attempt to construct and explore the colonial cosmopolitanism of the Peranakan world up to the turn of the 20th century, particularly through the material culture and aesthetics of the Straits Chinese tombs at Bukit Brown Cemetery (Singapore). The unique grave art found at Bukit Brown displays the most cosmopolitan features and influences in the Straits Settlements (Malacca, Penang and Singapore). This paper argues that the grave taste of the Straits Chinese in Singapore is a consequence and manifestation of colonial cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitan modernity, as Singapore at the turn of the 20th century, was (and still is) one of the most cosmopolitan cities of Southeast Asia. It explores and contextualizes cosmopolitanism in the Peranakan world and Southeast Asia, examining the cultural milieu, influences, commerce and technology that played into the aesthetics that developed in the grave art of Bukit Brown.
Keywords: Cosmopolitanism, colonialism, Peranakan, Straits Chinese, Bukit Brown, grave art