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How does a foreign land become your homeland? This is the question migrants and host societies ask every day around the world. Singapore has long been a country of migrants. Ask any Singaporean and there is a good chance that they, their parents, or their grandparents came from elsewhere. Some of these migrants may have planned to return to their homeland one day, but with time this foreign land became home. In this episode, student-producer Ching May explores the challenge of settling into a new land by focusing on an institution that long helped Chinese migrants: the clan association, or huiguan. She visits one of Singapore’s 300 surviving huiguan to ask how it is adapting to the times and how home has changed in meaning for different generations of migrants. She also shares her personal journey as a migrant from Hong Kong who now considers Singapore home, without the help of a clan association. Finally, we hear from Prof Kenneth Dean, an expert on clan associations who leads a fascinating clan association research project, an online GIS-enabled portal called Map of Origins:

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– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – References – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

– Caglar, Ayse. 2006. “Hometown associations, the rescaling of state spatiality and migrant grassroots transnationalism.” Global Networks – a Journal of Transnational Affairs 6(1): 1-22.

– Dean, Kenneth. 2010. “The return visits of overseas Chinese to ancestral villages in Putian, Fujian“, in Tim Oakes and Donald Sutton, eds., Faiths on Display: Tourism and Religion in Contemporary China, London: Routledge. 254-75.

– Ip, David. 2005. “Contesting Chinatown: Place-making and the emergence of ‘ethnoburbia’ in Brisbane, Australia” GeoJournal 64(1): 63-74.

– Kuhn, Philip A. 2008. Chinese Among Others: Emigration in Modern Times. Singapore: NUS Press.

– NUS Libraries. n.d. “Map of Origins: Chinese Clans in Singapore.” Accessed August 17, 2019.

– Pang, Cheng Lian. 2016. 50 Years of the Chinese Community in Singapore. Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.

– Tan, Thomas Tsu-wee. 1986. Your Chinese Roots: The Overseas Chinese Story. Singapore: Times Books International.

– T’ien, Ju-k’ang (Tian Rukang). 1953. The Chinese of Sarawak: A Study of Social Structure. London: Department of Sociology. London School of Economics and Political Science.

– Nanyang Huang Shi Chung Huay. 1976. Nanyang Huang shi Zonghui yinxi jinian tekan [Nanyang Huang Shi Chung Huay Silver Jubilee Commemorative Publication]. Singapore: Nanyang Huang Shi Chung Huay

Additional links about Clan Associations:

– Prof Kenneth Dean Profile –

– About Huang Qiao –

– Location of Clan Associations –

– Group Shot of the interview session at the Heng Jai Wong Clan Association
From Left: David, Mr Wang Tee Kang, Mr Wong Liang Nam, Jia Han, Ching May, Mr Wong Toon Tung, Mr Wong Soon Lian

– In order to preserve traditional Chinese values, the Heng Jai Wong Clan Association celebrates many cultural events every year. These include: The Spring and Autumn Rites, Qingming Festival, New Year Reunion, Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival. The association also organises an annual retreat, scholarship award ceremony, group travel and networking sessions with other clan associations at home and abroad.

Photo of one of the Clan Association’s events

– Photos of the Heng Jai Wong Clan Association

– For the 360 Degree photos of the Clan Association, please visit our FaceBook Post at

Published in Podcast Episodes S2


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