Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Nationhood and Pidgin: The Dubious Language of Resistance in Singapore Films

Dr Ling-Yen Chua.

Pidgin and other officially unsanctioned dialects have traditionally been positioned as languages of resistance amongst marginalized members of society. However, in the contemporary age of globalization and multiculturalism, their hereinto unproblematised role as signifiers of marginalization is now called into question. I propose that even though such languages might still function as linguistic acts of rebellions against an authoritative order, they can equally serve to perpetuate other social, racial and cultural inequalities.

The Singapore four official languages policy will be discussed in relation to recent recommendations by the Censorship Review Committee to relax the government regulation against the prolific use of pidgin and dialects in local film productions. The representation of race, class, sexuality and gender will be analyzed in relation to the use of the officially sanctioned Chinese-Mandarin and forbidden Chinese-dialects and pidgin in the two popular local films "15" and "I Not Stupid". Drawing on the Singapore example, I shall argue that the markers of linguistic rebellion and subversion in cinematic representations have become increasingly nuanced and socially specific in the contemporary age of globalisation and diaspora.


Dr Ling-Yen Chua  (Singapore)
Assistant Professor
School of Communication & Information
Nanyang Technological University

After graduating from the University of Warwick (PhD, Film and Television Studies), I worked for several years as a producer at the Asian regional television station, Channel NewsAsia. I have also presented papers and published in the area of film and television studies in New Zealand, Australia, US and UK. I currently teach Broadcast Journalism, Film Studies, TV and Video Production at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. My area of research covers media representation, film and television studies, race and national identities.

  • Singapore
  • Film
  • Nationhood
  • Pidgin
  • Language as resistance.

(Virtual Presentation, English)