The Straits Chinese Magazine
The Straits Chinese Magazine was a journal that appeared in Singapore from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century (1897-1907) that containing a mixture of news, editorials, essays and short stories modeled after the British periodicals Blackwoods and Macmillians. Unlike previous periodicals, the Straits Chinese Magazine sought to give a voice to the Chinese inhabitants of British Malaya, and did not only contain articles by the Europeans who were there. The journal was edited by two prominent young Malayan Chinese men who had recently returned from studying in England, Song Ong Siang and Lim Boon Keng.
Many of the essays and short stories in the Straits Chinese Magazine demonstrate how these hybrid, ethnic subjects found themselves torn between wanting to claim access to forms of Englishness through the practice of late Victorian ideals of masculinity such as honor and restraint, but to still assert a form of ethnic Chinese identity. One of the main editors of the magazine, Lim Boon Keng, was heavily influenced by the “Self-Strengthening Movement” within Qing China, which sought to modernize using Western technologies but maintaining Chinese cultural identity through the term Zhongxue weiti, xixue weiyong 中學為體，西學為用 or, “Chinese learning as the essence, and Western learning for application.”
What is “Digitizing ‘Chinese Englishmen’?This is a digital project focusing on the creation of “Asian Victorians” in Southeast Asia under British colonialism. It focuses on the digitization and annotation of the Straits Chinese Magazine, a journal produced by the Chinese diaspora in Southeast Asia in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Contribute!We are actively looking for people to help with digitization, annotation, commentary and editing in this project. If you are interested in participating, please contact the site director, Adeline Koh, Ph.D.