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Kho, Ee Moi
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The term majie refers to a pioneer group of women who migrated in the 1930s from Shunde in Guangdong province, China, to Malaya (and eventually Singapore) to work as domestic servants. They embodied the spirit of independence and loyalty, which are some of the core values of modern Singapore. Against the traditional Chinese opposition to women’s emancipation, the degree of independence achieved by the majie through spinsterhood is indeed extraordinary. By exploring their contributions as majie, the understated realities and the politics of remembering in Singapore’s history, this thesis argues that they are independent women deserving of critical recognition.

Chapter one outlines the background of the majie and the origins of the marriage resistance in China. Chapter two looks at the contributions of the majie in colonial Malaya, uncovering the memories and legacies of their superior work ethic. It will also look at the social networks that the majie created for themselves and how these sisterhoods eventually contributed to society. Chapter three deals with the representation and misrepresentation of the majie in Singapore’s history and memory, outlining the nuanced identity of the majie, the complexities of memory making and power politics. Finally, chapter four concludes this thesis, reiterating that the contributions and memories of the majie, though largely domestic and difficult to quantify, are important and worthy of more recognition in Singapore’s history.
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DS609.9 Tan
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Appears in Collections:Bachelor of Arts

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