Project Write-Up



This is an interactive mapping project which explores the rich and often overlooked cultural histories and changes in urban development of modern Singapore’s diverse neighbourhoods and streets.

Using food as a metaphor, the project will place emphasis on under-represented and neglected histories of early Singapore migrants and the creation and evolution of national dishes.

Research Findings, Reflection and Recording

This project will employ the use of Open Source Studio (OSS), developed by Professor Randall Packer in the School of Art, Design and Media, to record findings and reflections from books, videos, and site visit. It will also employ the use of a Google Map and Timeline widget to do prototyping of the presentation of information.

The website can be access at:

You can view the URECA poster at:

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Research Planning

The research is broken into 3 main portions: Identifying National Dishes; Understanding Each Ethnic Group; and Food & Singapore History.

It should be noted this project will focus mainly on Singapore’s past (19th century to around 1970s) instead of contemporary Singapore (i.e. current China and Bangladeshi workers).

In order to do that, the research will utilize:

  • Searching and reading of existing publications in libraries and online (both text and videos) to get a better understanding of Singapore’s cultural, historical and food landscape
  • Visit relevant museums and galleries to get a better understanding of what has been done before
  • WordPress widgets such as Google Map and Timeline applications and test out how these technologies will help in spreading the knowledge we have gathered
  • Video interview with relevant people such as Singapore food experts and historians, and hawkers to get firsthand account information

Project Milestone and Timeline

URECA is a 11-month project and at least 160 hours need to be clocked in by the end of the project. This will be a general milestone and timeline to be completed by the project’s end.

  • Aug 2016 – Commencement of Project, General research begins
  • Oct – Dec 2016 – Research Integrity Course Modules in NTULearn
  • Dec 2016 – In-depth research of project
  • Jan 2017 – URECA Poster submission, identify the dish for project
  • Jan – Apr/May 2017 – Filming of interview, process of interactive map, polishing
  • May 2017 – Abstract of research project
  • Jun 2017 – Submission of Research Paper

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Problem Definition

Identifying National Dishes

Some questions to ask ourselves:

  • What is considered a national dish?
  • What are their criteria?
  • Why and where was the dish created?
  • What are their regional variants?
  • Can our national dish not be created locally?
  • When was the dish first created? How is it different now from past iteration?

Understanding Each Ethnic Groups

The ethnic groups the project will cover will consist mainly of:

  • Chinese
  • Malay
  • Indian
  • Peranakan
  • Eurasian

As Singapore is an immigrant society and much of its modern history is tied to it being a migrant trading port, here are some questions to ask ourselves in terms of food:

  • Who are the people that arrived in Singapore’s early history?
  • What were their occupations?
  • What were some of the dishes they brought from their native land?
  • How did they adept these dishes?
  • How do the ethnic groups influence Singapore’s national narrative?

Food & Singapore History

For Singapore’s history, we will focus more on the social and cultural aspect of it instead of economics and political aspect, while acknowledging that each contribute and influence the historical narrative.

This is generally to allow us to understand the historical landscape of Singapore. Some simple questions to ask ourselves:

  • How have Singapore ethnic enclaves changed since the colonial period?
  • How does food help us understand the history of Singapore?
  • Where do the population get their food & cooking ingredients from?
  • What does food tell us about Singapore’s ethnicities?

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Conclusion and Future Work

To understand our local dishes is to understand the heritage and culture of the people who create them. Through this in-depth research on Singapore’s cultural history, it is possible to get an understanding and document how our different ethnic cuisines were created, and later adapted during the course of changes in our national narrative.

In the near future, the collected knowledge would be organised into an online interactive map and database that allows visitors to quickly and easily find out more about our national dishes.

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