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    The Chinese Diaspora in Brunei Darussalam

    Full Title : Representations and Language Use of the Chinese Diaspora in Brunei Darussalam

    Status : Competitive Research Grant (CRG)

    Funding Amount : BND 9,550

    Start Date : 2019

    Completion Date : 2022

    Principal Investigator : Hannah Ho Ming Yit

    Co-investigator : Debbie Guan Eng Ho

    Brief Outline

    This research project aims to source, collate, translate, and analyse oral-literary texts produced by the Chinese diasporic community in Negara Brunei Darussalam. It entails an investigation into the manifestations of identity – through literary formations and language uses – of the Chinese diaspora. While a Bruneian context is focussed, comparative links to Mainland Chinese traditions, culture, and social ethos will be included.

    Narratives will be documented to form a body of oral-literary and ethnographic archive. In addition to locating literary writings and audiovisual works by the Chinese diaspora within Brunei, interviews will be conducted and oral testimonies recounting life stories will be recorded. As well as cultural transformation and social adaptation, focus group interviews will be conducted with three generations of Chinese living in Brunei Darussalam. These data will form primary and extra-textual material for understanding, interpreting and evaluating stories that illuminate the contestation, presentation and configuration of identity via the matrices of gender, race, and nation.

    Brief Objectives

    Amongst the objectives are to:

    1. Expand, develop and share the corpus of oral-literary works produced by the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia.
    2. Analyse themes pertinent within these works, with a focus on studying identity formation through the contestation of gender, race and intergenerational ties within the nation.
    3. Focus on the Bruneian context, while paying attention to the regional area to understand broader ties of the Chinese diaspora to Mainland China.
    4. Provide a comparative analysis of works by Bruneian Chinese, and other Chinese diaspora peoples within the Southeast Aisan region.
    5. Investigate whether there have been changes in the use of the Chinese dialects/Mandarin between different age groups of Chinese in Brunei Darussalam.
    6. Examine the extent to which a change in dialect or language use has influenced Chinese identity.
    7. Analyse the Chinese community’s cultural transformation and social adaptation over generations in the Bruneian and Southeast Asian context.
    8. Conceptualise the entire research process as a cultural study that documents a historisation of the oral-literary, linguistic, cultural, and social evolution of Brunei’s Chinese diaspora.

    Significance of the Research

    National benefits include:

    1. Strengthening understanding and ties between Brunei Darussalam and People’s Republic of China.
    2. Promoting interest in Chinese studies in Brunei to facilitate Brunei-China bilateral ties.
    3. Initiating investigations into the complex relationships between language use, identity, and culture that can be translated across to other ethnic groups within the country.
    4. Foregrounding Brunei Chinese works to instil a sense of belonging and connection to the nation and region.